I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin on August 30, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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He’ll risk his whole heart to save her from the past
Gaby Cane was always a bit afraid of her attraction to Bowie McCayde. Even when she was fifteen and Bowie’s family took her in, she had sensed his simmering resentment. Now ten years later, she’s an aspiring journalist who can hold her own with any man professionally, the dark shadows of years gone by far behind her. Then Bowie strides back into her life—only this time, he needs her, and the pull of loyalty to his family is too strong to ignore.
When Bowie asked Gaby to help save his family’s Arizona ranch, he never expected the girl he once knew to return transformed into a stunning, successful woman. As they work together, Bowie is shocked to find that her innocence and beauty stir a hunger he can’t deny. But the rogue rancher can sense something holding her back, and he’s determined to uncover the terrible secret Gaby is fighting to keep hidden…
I’ve read dozens of Diana Palmer books, so when I encounter one I haven’t read before, I pretty much automatically put it on my to-read list, and Fire Brand is no different. It was recently rereleased by Harlequin, having been previously released under the pen name Susan Kyle by Popular Library in as part of the Lovestruck! series back in 1989. Although I wish I’d known that before I started reading, because I had a “wait, what?” moment at one point when the hero mentioned having been in the Vietnam War.
Outside of references like that one, though, the story holds up. The dynamics between the characters were interesting, given that the heroine, Gaby, had been welcomed into hero Bowie’s home with open arms, while Bowie felt like an interloper in his own family. The feels powered by Gaby’s gratitude and guilt and Bowie’s jealousy just add to the chemistry of their attraction.
As far as romance tropes go, this one’s an enemies-to-lovers story, which is something the author has an affinity for. Notably, Bowie is a bit less of a casual caveman than many other Palmer heroes, and that made me like him better. Gaby, in turn, isn’t all sweetness and light; she’s spunky and she’s been through quite a bit, which makes her both likable and relatable.
Fire Brand is a solid Diana Palmer read, and it’s very much in the author’s style, so if you’re a fan of her work, you might be interested in picking this book up, especially as it’s set outside her usual settings of Jacobsville or Wyoming. Just keep in mind that this was written in the ’80s so you don’t get too surprised by some of the references!
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