The Firebrand (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy Series #3)

The Firebrand (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy Series #3)

3.8 63
by Susan Wiggs

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Chicago is burning

And Lucy Hathaway is running for her life. As she rushes past a fine hotel engulfed in flames, a wrapped bundle tumbles from a window into her arms. Seconds later the building crumbles—and Lucy is astonished to discover the swaddled blanket contains a baby.

Five years later Lucy walks into Rand Higgins's bank and

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Chicago is burning

And Lucy Hathaway is running for her life. As she rushes past a fine hotel engulfed in flames, a wrapped bundle tumbles from a window into her arms. Seconds later the building crumbles—and Lucy is astonished to discover the swaddled blanket contains a baby.

Five years later Lucy walks into Rand Higgins's bank and knows: the orphan she rescued that day actually belongs to this ruthless financier. Now, to keep the child she's come to love, she'll have to give up her hard-won freedom and become his wife. But giving Rand her heart? That, she could never have expected…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The great Chicago fire of 1871 is the catalyst for a story that deftly portrays a romance against the backdrop of the budding suffrage movement. Despite Lucy Hathaway's aristocratic background, her fiery political views and unconventional attitudes make her a social outsider. Nevertheless, she feels unexpectedly drawn to handsome banker Rand Higgins until she discovers that he's married to a dainty china doll of a woman. The fire changes everything, however, badly injuring Rand, estranging his wife and depriving Lucy of her father and her wealth. In the strangest twist of all, Rand's infant daughter, presumed dead in the fire, lands in Lucy's arms and is raised as an orphan. Although fate brings Lucy and Rand together again, the obstacles to their growing passion seem almost insurmountable. Both attempt to obtain custody of the child, and Lucy's association with the suffragists enrages Rand's banking colleagues. With this final installment of Wiggs's Chicago Fire trilogy (which also includes The Mistress), she has created a quiet page-turner that will hold readers spellbound as the relationships, characters and story unfold. Fans of historical romances will naturally flock to this skillfully executed trilogy, and general women's fiction readers should find this story enchanting as well. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Great Chicago Fire Trilogy Series, #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.63(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Firebrand

By Susan Wiggs

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1551667584

Chapter One

Chicago Sunday, October 8, 1871

The city was like a matchstick, waiting to be struck. The shipyards were stacked with lumber from the north woods, soon to be transformed into warehouses, tenements, breweries and shanties. In just a few short years, the prairie town had sprawled into an ungainly maze of wooden structures.

Many of the buildings looked grand. Some even appeared rock-solid. But in fact, most structures were clad in the false and fancy dress of ornate facades. Their insincere faces were painted to resemble stone or marble, copper or tin. But scratch beneath the surface, and the flimsy substance would be revealed - wood, as dry as tinder, capped by a deceptive veil of shingles glued on by flammable tar.

The roadways radiated like arteries from the giant, churning heart of the lake. Six hundred miles of wooden sidewalks and sixty miles of pine-block roadways spread through the business district and working-class neighborhoods where immigrant mothers tried to hush their fretful children, suffering in the unseasonably dry heat. Rickety boardwalks and causeways spread across manufacturing centers and even dared to encroach upon the fashionable wealthy areas north of the river.

The barons of industry and commerce had put up varnish factories, alcohol distilleries, coalyards, lumber mills and gasworks with more regard for fast profit than for fire prevention. They lived for show, in houses built to resemble the centuries-old manors of aristocrats. Blooded coach horses occupied stables crammed with dry straw and timothy hay. Avenues of trees, stripped dry by the summer-long drought, connected neighbor to neighbor, each trying to outdo the other in ostentation. Those who had established themselves in the city a mere fifteen years ago liked to call themselves Old Settlers, and the new arrivals had no grounds to challenge the designation. Instead they set to work earning their own fortunes so that one day they might buy their way into the ranks of the merchant princes.

Many of these newcomers stayed at the Sterling House Hotel, which was considered the very height of fashion. Literally. Crowned by a dome of colored glass, the five-story structure boasted a steam elevator and commanded an impressive view of the river.

Feverish and impatient with ambition, no one cared that Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest and reflection. No one heeded the fire alarms that had been shrieking through drought-choked neighborhoods all week. The wheels of commerce ground on with dogged relentlessness, and only those too timid to dream greatly would pause to worry that Chicago was a city built of tinder; or that sparks from a hundred thousand chimneys infested the gusting night air; or that the fire-fighting companies had already worked themselves into exhaustion.

To be sure, no one could have predicted the vicious speed with which the fire took hold. No one could have imagined that, with such a modern system of alarms and waterworks, the Great Fire would burn without interruption Sunday night, and on through Monday, and deep into the middle of Tuesday. No one looking at the falsely solid brickfronts could have believed the city would be so vulnerable.

But like anything built on an unstable foundation, the city had only the thinnest of defenses. Chicago was not long for this world.


Excerpted from The Firebrand by Susan Wiggs Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Firebrand 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
songbirdsue More than 1 year ago
I love Susan Wiggs writing but did not enjoy this one as well as others I have read. I had a hard time relating to the characters unlike the previous 2 in this trilogy. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that most of the book was Lucy fighting for women’s rights. Though interesting to view that portion of history, I became frustrated with her obsession with women’s rights. Refusing to embrace the wonderful aspects of womanhood, she never really gained a balance. I felt that Rand was forced to give in their relationship much more than she was. Their struggles came from their differing views which were never resolved or compromised adequately. Lucy seemed to lack trust as well, which was hard for us to understand given all that she had in her life and as well as Rand treated her given that he did not share her passion of Woman's Rights. There is still much to love in the story: instant attraction, a disaster that brings people together, a rescued baby, and second chances. It is written well as all of Susan Wiggs books are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth novel by SW that I have read in the past year. I also read ¿Miranda¿ (pretty good) and ¿The Horsemaster¿s Daughter¿ & ¿A Summer Affair¿ both excellent stories which tied into one another. In this most recent book I read, ¿The Firebrand¿, I found both the setting, plot line and characters appealing and interesting. The author selected the historical fire set in Chicago in the late 1800¿s as the main fascinating topic. Through her words and descriptions, you could feel the devastation that such a catastrophe created with old wooden buildings like tinder boxes, lack of fire departments and easy to find water and traditional means of living in high rise locations as rent/costs were cheaper the higher up you lived so, escape became impossible for most people. SW showed how fire could turn a major city into rubble within a few hours of burning and how entire families were wiped out in one day. SW brought to life for the reader the lives of Lucy and Rand. Both had blessed lives before the fire ¿ money, status, looks, loving families and a strong history. After the fire, the learned how to deal with loss of life, loss of money, loss of friends and loss of looks. Fortunately, Lucy always had that ¿I am woman hear me roar¿ attitude going on which kept her feisty even in the toughest of circumstances. She in turned, challenged Rand into believing he could do and be more as well. Their paths crossed before the fire and then again after the fire due to a shared love of one small child ¿ Maggie/Christine. The love of parents for their child was wonderful to read in this story ¿ how sacrifices are made, boundaries set and spirits allowed to blossom and grow ¿ regardless of what society says. Their coming together as individuals and then a family was a beautiful thing. I would have liked the story to focus a little more on the development of Lucy and Rand¿s love and passion for one another. Lots of the book focused on the custody issue of Maggie/Christine, Lucy¿s book store and constant marches and fights for woman¿s rights and Rand¿s work at the bank. There were many pleasing secondary characters in this book ¿ such as Lucy¿s friends ¿ who have novels of their own as well. I am looking forward to future reads by this author. She always knows how to please the reader from start to finish. If you have not read this author yet ¿ what are you waiting for? If you already know of her and read some of her books...lucky you. Happy reading to all!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1871 Chicago, Lucy Hathaway and Rand Higgins debate women¿s rights in a public forum. As they argue, Lucy is shocked to find herself very attracted to the married Rand, a feeling she abhors. Their debate ends when they hear of a dangerous fire spreading throughout the city. Going by a blazing hotel, Lucy catches an infant tossed out a window. Finding no clues to the parents, Lucy raises the child as her own.

Five years later, Lucy runs a bookstore while raising Maggie. Rand is divorced and believes his daughter died in the inferno. When Lucy needs a loan she turns to Rand¿s bank where she sees the picture of his deceased infant whom she recognizes as her Maggie. She must tell him the truth, but fears she will lose her beloved ¿daughter¿. As Rand and Lucy become better acquainted they fall in love. However, his cronies detest Lucy and her suffragettes while her side loathes the obstinate bankers. This makes their romance look more like that of Romeo and Juliet with the extra catalyst being a five year old girl they both love.

The final tale in Susan Wiggs¿ Chicago Fire trilogy (see THE HOSTAGE and THE MISTRESS) closes out a fabulous series. The story line never slows down for a moment while readers observe the aftermath of the destructive inferno and the early moments in the women¿s suffragette movement. In his backdrop, the lead couple struggles with unacceptable feelings for one another. Calling her bookstore THE FIREBRAND seems inappropriate, but naming Ms. Wiggs a firebrand of an author appears apropos because this author always writes a powerful thought provoking historical romance.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
4theloveofdolls More than 1 year ago
Awesome. Great book
IvoryAce More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this third book in the Chicago Fire Trilogy. It took a while for Lucy to realize that women's suffrage did not mean that a woman didn't need a man in her life. She only saw the negatives, if you will, without seeing the wonderful relationship/love possibilities of marriage and life with a husband and children. When she did, she realized there could be both and it was more liberating for her that she ever imagined.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really didn't like Lucy, her obsession with women's sufferage became annoying and she had no concept of family. Any scene with her in it was frusterating to read and I just don't see why Rand would even want this woman. I did like the Great Fire theme and the storyline with Maggie/ Christine was very touching and had a lot of depth. It was very original.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
livingthedream More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome series! I recommend all three books!
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adan navarro More than 1 year ago
I think this is a good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago