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Winter Fire (Maxwells Series #2)
     

Winter Fire (Maxwells Series #2)

4.5 37
by Elizabeth Lowell, Laural Merlington (Read by)
 

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Orphaned at thirteen, a mail-order bride at fourteen, widowed at sixteen, Sarah Kennedy has learned to depend upon no one but herself—reserving all her love for her younger brother Conner, and for the wounded hawks she heals and returns to the air.

A hardened Civil War veteran, personal tragedy has taught Case Maxwell three things: to be a patient,

Overview

Orphaned at thirteen, a mail-order bride at fourteen, widowed at sixteen, Sarah Kennedy has learned to depend upon no one but herself—reserving all her love for her younger brother Conner, and for the wounded hawks she heals and returns to the air.

A hardened Civil War veteran, personal tragedy has taught Case Maxwell three things: to be a patient, deadly fighter, to love nothing that can die; and that justice is blind. But when a confrontation with his sworn enemies, the Culpepper clan, leaves him near death, Case finds himself, like many another damaged wild creature, under the tender, unwanted care of Sarah Kennedy.

Destiny has brought the healer and the warrior together to brave chilling risks and dangerous truths in a hard, magnificent land—two souls haunted by a perilous present and the bitter ghosts of the past. But the intense emotion both Case and Sarah fear—the passion that burns like fire in the very heart of winter—is the only thing that can truly save them, as together they seek the courage to face the greatest risk of all: love.Orphaned at thirteen, a mail-order bride at fourteen, widowed at sixteen, Sarah Kennedy has learned to depend upon no one but herself—reserving all her love for her younger brother Conner, and for the wounded hawks she heals and returns to the air.

A hardened Civil War veteran, personal tragedy has taught Case Maxwell three things: to be a patient, deadly fighter, to love nothing that can die; and that justice is blind. But when a confrontation with his sworn enemies, the Culpepper clan, leaves him near death, Case finds himself, like many another damaged wild creature, under the tender, unwantedcare of Sarah Kennedy.

Destiny has brought the healer and the warrior together to brave chilling risks and dangerous truths in a hard, magnificent land—two souls haunted by a perilous present and the bitter ghosts of the past. But the intense emotion both Case and Sarah fear—the passion that burns like fire in the very heart of winter—is the only thing that can truly save them, as together they seek the courage to face the greatest risk of all: love.

Author Biography:

Elizabeth Lowell is the author of numerous historical and contemporary novels, many of which have been New York Times bestsellers, including four masterful works of romantic suspense featuring the Donovan family. Ms. Lowell lives in Anacortes, Washington, with her husband with whom she writes mystery novels under a pseudonym.

Editorial Reviews

Johanna Lindsey
Elizabeth Lowell is great!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bestselling paperback romance novelist Lowell (Autumn Lover) makes her first foray into hardcover with this smoothly written post-Civil War western romance. Shortly after the death of her parents in a flood, 14-year-old Sarah Kennedy, now responsible for herself and her younger brother, Conner, becomes a mail-order bride, marrying a brutal older man who drinks and demands painful sex. Widowed two years later, she strives to maintain her farm in the Utah wilderness, where she lives with Conner, an outlaw named Ute and an ex-prostitute known as Big Lola. When she meets Case Maxwell, who is hunting down the Culpepper gang for murdering his niece and nephew, Sarah is still quite certain that she hates sex. But after he is shot in her backyard, she can't help surreptitiously peeking at Case's bulging loincloth while she's patching up his handsome, bullet-riddled body. While he finds her equally irresistible, he firmly resists the idea of marriage or children. His desire for revenge against the Culpepper gang is matched by Sarah's quest to find a silver treasure that she knows is buried near her property. Case agrees to help Sarah find the cache, but suddenly there is a crisis when Conner falls into the hands of the vicious Ab Culpepper. Case proves himself a hero, and the finale is a rousing, old-fashioned shoot-'em-up worthy of Louis L'Amour. Though the dialogue is sometimes sappy, Lowell keeps her entertaining story moving briskly. (Nov.) FYI: Lowell also writes SF fantasy under the name Ann Maxwell and, as A.E. Maxwell, she coauthors mystery and suspense novels with her husband, Evan Maxwell.
Library Journal
A top romance author's hardcover debut. First printing: 175,000 copies.
Kirkus Reviews
Lowell's first hardcover romance—as well as Avon's—is a solid if unexceptional effort by a prolific writer in the genre.

Sarah Kennedy's parents die in a flood, and, at 14, Sarah takes her younger brother Conner and answers the ad of a man looking for a wife in Utah Territory. New husband, Hal, however, is coarse and abusive, and when he's killed, Sarah doesn't mourn him. She stays on at Lost River Canyon ranch with former prostitute Lola and the outlaw Indian, Ute, whose life she saved (she also rescues hawks and eagles). They search among the red canyons for the hoard of Spanish silver Sarah's no-good husband found before he died, when onto the scene comes battle-weary and soul-sore Case Maxwell (from Lowell's paperback Autumn Fire). Poor Case hasn't laughed or loved, or wanted to, since Ab Culpepper savaged and killed his niece and nephew after the Civil War. Now he's vowed to kill the Culpeppers, all of whom have moved to Utah and settled in as Sarah's neighbors. When Case is badly wounded in a shootout with the them, Sarah nurses him back to health (naturally, he has a wonderful body), and so he stays on at the ranch because he wants to protect her—and because, for some reason, he just can't make himself leave. It's the call of the land, he thinks, or maybe just his dumb old "handle" leading him around. After lots of sexual tension and cloaked vulnerability, Case shows Sarah that sex can be swell. Genre romance is like Olympic figure skating: The music and costumes change, but there are always the same double lutzes and triple salchows. Lowell (who as A.E. Maxwell also writes mysteries with husband Evan) performs creditably, but rings no changes on the genre.

Formula work, well done.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781561007202
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
11/01/1996
Series:
Maxwells Series , #2
Edition description:
4 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 7.05(h) x 1.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

"Don't move. Don't even breathe."

The man's low, emotionless voice was enough to freeze Sarah Kennedy in place. But even if his voice hadn't stilled her, the rest of him would have.

Moving and breathing just weren't possible.

Sarah was stretched out full-length on her stomach, pinned to cold slickrock at the edge of a drop-off, flattened beneath a stranger's overwhelming weight. The man covered her from head to heels.

"Lord, but that's a lot of man, she thought fearfully. Not fat. Just big."

"Too big."

Even if the stranger gave her an opening, she wouldn't have a chance in a fight against him. Despite his size, he was quick and quiet as a hawk.

Sarah had never even suspected that she was no longer alone beneath the stone overhang of the shallow cave.

The stranger's body was as hard as the cold rock that was squashing her breasts and gouging her hipbones even through her winter clothing. The man's leather-gloved right hand was across her mouth with a grip that meant to stay there no matter how she twisted or tried to bite him.

She didn't waste her strength in useless fighting. An unhappy marriage had taught her that even a young, healthy girl didn't have much chance against an old man her own size and weight.

The man pinning her down right now was neither old nor her size and weight.

And that wasn't the worst of it.

Despite the dry winter chill, the stranger's left hand was bare. It held a six-gun that looked entirely too well used.

As though Sarah's captor understood that she wasn't going to fight him, his grip eased enough for her to breathe.

But not enough for her to cry out.

"I won'thurt you," the man said very quietly against her ear.

Like hell you won't, she thought. "That's all most men are good for. Hurting women."

Silently she swallowed against the fear and nausea roiling in her stomach.

"Easy now, little one," the man murmured. "I don't mistreat women, horses, or dogs."

She hadn't heard that saying since her father's death. It startled her even as it gave her a flicker of hope.

"But if those Culpeppers gathering at the bottom of the cliff get their hands on you," the stranger continued, "they'll make you pray for death. Your prayers will be answered, but not nearly quick enough to suit you."

A chill washed over Sarah that had nothing to do with the winter night or the icy rock she was lying on.

"Nod if you understand me," the man said.

Despite his educated accents and the hint of a drawl, his voice was low, soft, deadly.

She nodded.

"Now, nod if you believe me," he added dryly.

An absurd desire to laugh shot through her.

Hysteria, she thought. Get hold of yourself. You've been through worse and come out right side up.

Again, Sarah nodded.

"Girl, I hope you're not lying to me."

She shook her head vigorously.

"Good," he murmured. "Because sure as God made little green apples, as soon as you scream we're going to be up to our butts in hot lead."

Once again she felt a crazy desire to laugh. She controlled it.

Barely.

Slowly the stranger's hand came away from her mouth.

Sarah took a long, deep, silent breath. The air she drew into her body tasted of leather and was spiced with an intriguing scent.

Apple, she realized. He's just eaten an apple.

A bit more of the aching tension left her body.

Her husband had demanded sex only when he was drinking, not when he was eating.

Even more reassuring to her, there wasn't the faintest trace ~, of liquor on the stranger's breath. Nor was there any hint of liquor on his skin or clothes. All she could smell was a trace of soap, leather, heat, and . . . apple.

That's why I'm not as scared as I should be, she realized. He may be an outlaw, but he's sober, smells clean, and likes apples.

Maybe he's no meaner than he has to be.

The slow easing of her painful tension communicated itself to the man whose body was covering hers like a heavy, living blanket.

"That's better," the man murmured. "I'm going to take some of my weight off you. But don't you move at all. Not a bit. Hear me?"

Sarah nodded.

With a silence and speed that left her feeling a bit dizzy, the man shifted to one side. Rock no longer dug into her breasts and belly. Now the weight and strength of the man lay lightly along her right side.

He was still there, still poised. If he wanted to, he could cover her again as swiftly and silently as he had before.

"You all right?" the man asked softly.

She nodded.

Then she wondered if the man would understand her silent communication now that he wasn't close enough to feel her every heartbeat. It was as dark as the inside of a boot beneath the overhang of rock.

"Good girl," he murmured.

He must have eyes like an eagle, Sarah thought. Lord, if only I had the wings of an eagle I would fly away.

The thought sent a shudder of pure longing through her.

"Now don't go all contrary on me," the stranger said softly. "We're not out of this mess by a long sight."

We? she asked silently. Last time I looked, I was alone and there wasn't any mess at all!

Men's voices, the creaking of saddle leather, and a horse's impatient snort drifted up from the blackness at the base of the cliff.

In the night stillness of the red rock desert, sound carried a long, long way.

All right, she amended silently. I was alone and a mess was gathering around me.

Now I'm not alone. Danger is right within reach.

And it smells of apples.

Sarah struggled against a smile.

She lost.

Case Maxwell saw the flash of her smile. He wondered what the girl found worth smiling about in this unholy mess.

And despite the darkness, despite the heavy men's clothes she wore, Case had no doubt that it was a female he was lying halfway across. She was soft, slender, and smelled of summer roses.

Must be Sarah Kennedy, he decided. Either that or Big Lola. They're the only white women for several days' ride.

Somehow he doubted that the girl he had discovered in the shallow cave was Big Lola. Word had it that Lola was man-sized, man-hard, and tough as any sporting gal who had ever ventured west of the Mississippi.

The slender waif who was trying not to smile didn't have the attitude"or the smell" of a sporting gal.

Sarah Kennedy, he said to himself. Has to be.

As it had during the Civil War, his mind worked quickly, assembling the information he had on the subject of a girl called Sarah Kennedy.

Widow. Young. Avoids men, quiet as a shadow, and even harder to lasso.

A kid brother called Conner, an old outlaw known as Ute, and Big Lola live with her on Lost River Canyon ranch.

Wonder why nobody mentioned that Sarah smells of summer roses and has a smile quick as lightning?

Just what the hell is. she smiling about, anyway?

What People are Saying About This

Amanda Clift
A law unto herself in the world of romance.
Johanna Lindsey
Elizabeth Lowell is great!

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell has more than eighty titles published to date with over twenty-four million copies of her books in print. She lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband, with whom she writes novels under a pseudonym. Her favorite activity is exploring the Western United States to find the landscapes that speak to her soul and inspire her writing.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 5, 1944
Place of Birth:
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education:
B. A., University of California, 1966

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Winter Fire 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
This is the second time that I read this book and didn't enjoy it as much as the first time. I like the writing style of the author and there were good subplots going on throughout the book. The romance in this book was just lame. Case is a man who is really a bully to Sarah and she who is suppose to be strong and independent takes it. Not a total waste of time.
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pbandzb More than 1 year ago
Really good historical romance!!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great read , have imensly emjoyed all of her romance books. Lots of emotions, laughter and family bonds that makes you believe in love and fairy tales, the passion is always great in every book too !!
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LinMarie More than 1 year ago
This is the novel that had me falling in love with Lowell! The emotion and characters are compelling, along with the descriptive beauty of the landscape that encompasses them. A GREAT READ THAT WILL HAVE YOU LOOKING FOR MORE LOWELL NOVELS QUICKLY!