The Hostage (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #1) - Susan Wiggs

This books starts a little slow but the second half really makes up for it.  Deborah starts off the book not so much spoiled as just oblivious as to how other people live and how to take care of herself.  I saw other reviews where they disliked her for this but for me it was realistic as to how she would be.  Something bad has happened between her and her fiance and although the story doesn't come out for a while if you've read a fair amount of romance (or even just read a fair amount) you'll figure out what happened.  Deborah's journey from sheltered and scared to self sufficient and confident is really the story of the book.

 

Tom Silver is wonderful hero but his emotional journey isn't nearly as compelling.  He needs to get over grieving and love again but who he is basically is the same throughout the book.  That said his physical journey to reach Deborah when her life is endangered is pretty awesome.

 

I have to admit that I got a little teared up at the end but still given the slow beginning this probably would have been 4*s, even with the strong second half.  But I was really excited to read a historical set in the US that wasn't a western.  Nothing against westerns or the typical London set historical, I've read and enjoyed both.  But there's a rich history in this country (and obviously in other settings) that gets ignored for the same regency ballroom setting.  This book is actually a nice bridge between the typical and the unusual.  Deborah, although from Chicago, is very much from the world of ballrooms and entertainments that wouldn't feel out of place in a typical regency.  However, Tom is a very American frontier type character.  And the winter challenges that they face are definitely not from London. 

 

I'm definitely intrigued by the next two in the series as well.