Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stars of Fire-Mary Ellen Dennis

Stars of Fire
Mary Ellen Dennis
Five Star, Jan 5 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594149252

In 1820 Pennsylvania, a woman dies giving birth. Immediately after, someone poisons her midwife Matilda Tuttle. The baby James Coleman is given to the Higley family to raise and use on their farm. In 1832, Cole gets into a fight with the four older Higley brothers in which he cuts the finger of the oldest before fleeing. In 1849 Cole meets ten years old (or younger) Jane Elizabeth McAllister over times tables and a splinter; he is charmed by the young girl who tells him she has visions and forecasts one day he will be her husband before he leaves. In 1857 James Buchanan became president while Cole became a highly regarded boxer fighting in places like California. In 1860 Jenny lives with Ambrose Higley as her husband since she was sold to him to pay off her late uncle’s debts. James plans to rescue her.

He arrives in Sonora only to learn Jenny allegedly died in a fire that killed her spouse Brose. Garbed as a male, she becomes a Pony Express rider delivering a letter to President Buchanan. Cole, upset that his Jenny is dead, knows he can never feel complete until he knows who his father was, but has little hope of solving that mystery. Then he sees his Jenny again who shocks him with where she has been. He should have known her in his heart, but now wants to keep her safe offering to marry her.

This is an engaging epic historical starring two people who seem destined not to be together though they love each other. The story line moves quickly through the decades while rotating what is happening to each of the star-crossed lovers as each has odious caricaturist villains to contend with. With an interesting late twist, fans will enjoy this nineteenth century romance wondering if the lead couple will ever pair off.

Harriet Klausner

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