Stars of Fire

Written by Mary Ellen Dennis
Review by B. J. Sedlock

This historical romance ranges between 1820 and 1860. Young James Coleman has a memorable meeting with the child Jenny McAllister in Pennsylvania. They stay in touch through letters over the years while he travels, prizefighting. Their paths finally cross again after Jenny has moved West with her cruel husband and is captured in an attack by the Miwok tribe in California. Cole rescues her by buying her at a slave auction and escorts her to her brother’s Pony Express station. Their time together leads to mutual attraction, but Cole is afraid to fall in love with her because every woman he’s ever loved has died, and Jenny feels unworthy.

This book didn’t measure up for me. I didn’t find the romantic tension believable – their reasons for not bedding each other seem to exist merely to extend the conflict. The plot seems overcrowded: Jenny lives with Native Americans twice, rides for the Pony Express, is heiress to a foundry, survives being shot by an arrow, has psychic powers, attends art school, etc. A less busy story would have made room for better character development. There are some good elements (Miwok culture is treated with respect), but it needs reworking.