TBR Challenge Review: Heart of Fire by Linda Howard

The “suggested” TBR Challenge book for this month called for me to read “other genre besides romance.” When I went to look at the monthly listings on Wendy’s blog I just sat and stared at it for a bit and then said, “Well that’s just mean.” Lol I don’t have any books that aren’t romance on my shelves. Yes, I could have gone out and purchased a book that wasn’t romance but this challenge, for me at least, is all about getting the books on my shelves read. Instead I picked a book that came highly recommended by Holly and Rowena over at The Book Binge. When we were all at Holly’s house in September for a get together Rowena had brought the book to swap. When I mentioned that it sounded good and that I might take it they pounced! (I kid you not, they really did) They said that it was a fantastic book and that the hero of the story, Ben Lewis, was well worth reading about. Well, I definitely had to check this out for myself.

A fabulous lost Amazon city once inhabited by women warriors and containing a rare red diamond: it sounded like myth, but archeologist Jillian Sherwood believed it was real, and she was willing to put up with anything to find it -- even Ben Lewis. Ruffian, knock-about, and number one river guide in Brazil, Ben was all man -- over six feet of rock-hard muscles that rippled under his khakis, with lazy blue eyes that taunted her from his tanned face. Jillian watched him come to a fast boil when she refused to reveal their exact destination upriver in the uncharted rain forests -- and resolved to stand her ground. Neither of them could foresee what the days ahead promised: an odyssey into the fiery heart of passion and betrayal, and a danger that would force them to cast their fates together, immersed in the eternal, unsolved mysteries of love....

Jillian Sherwood is an archeologist. She’s fantastic at what she does but she never gets to go on any major digs with the foundation that she works for. Why is that? Because of her deceased father. Her father, Cyrus Sherwood, was a brilliant man who never discounted any legend or myth as ridiculous because it wasn’t proven right or wrong. The problem was that everyone in the field called him Crackpot Sherwood because he was constantly seeking the truth and never finding it. On one such a mission he died. On that mission Cyrus was searching for the Lost City of Anzar – possibly the home of the Amazons.

Jillian is frustrated and pissed off at her bosses and wants to look for some solace in her fathers papers. As she does so she finds something amazing – and that’s her father’s proof that the Lost City of Anzar does exist and that he had found the way there – he had just died before he could get physical evidence. Jillian and her brother Rick, along with a seedy man named Kates, who finances the trip, head to Brazil to find a guide to take them in to the depths of the jungle.

What they find is Ben Lewis. He is known as the best guide around but he’s not all that appealing to any of them. He looks like a lackadaisical drunk but underneath the fa├žade is a shrewd, intelligent man. He also loooooves women. He loves having sex and he appreciated the female body. Reading this description he doesn’t sound all that likable but he just had this innate charm that you couldn’t help wanting to know more about. He, of course, is not thrilled that Jillian is going on the trip but since she’s the only one who knows where they’re going (the directions to the Lost City were written in code by her father and she’s the only living being that can decipher it) he is forced to accept her presence. He thinks that he’ll be able to seduce her even if she isn’t really his type but his plans are soon thwarted by Jillian herself.

The trip to the City is fraught with unexpected events and even death but they actually find Anzar and Jillian is thrilled! She can’t believe that the City is real and it looks like this was in fact the home of the Amazons! Incredible! But there’s more brewing here than meets the eye. Kates had hired a man to come on the trip who is known to Ben as a hired killer. Kates and Jillian’s brother Rick believe that there is a red diamond in the City that will bring them great wealth. Kates however, plans on killing off everyone and taking the diamond for himself. When things come to a head in the City, Ben and Jillian escape but who did they leave behind that’s alive and who exactly is chasing them?

Prior to reading this book I’d only read 2 Linda Howard novels and let me tell you that this one, by far, is my favorite of the 3. When I opened the book I was completely caught up in the story. There was really not a lot of background story that I had to mess with prior to getting to the “now” story. All of that background info was told throughout the story and woven in perfectly.

Jillian is a brilliant woman. She’s good at what she does – you can just tell from the get-go and she’s smart enough to figure out Ben Lewis from day 1. Yes, he’s oh-so hot and yes, he can be charming but she’s just not interested in him or his tries at seduction. I loved Jillian. Her attitude towards just about everything was so interesting that I couldn’t help wanting to read more about her.

Ben finds Jillian mildly attractive at first but after a while he’s wowed by her personality, her strength, her vitality and it makes her beautiful to him. While he wants at first to get Jillian in the sack, after a while it’s a moral imperative to him to be with her and not just for a quick roll in the hay – for a damned long time. Jillian is HIS and he’s not letting her go any time soon. God, Ben is just such a man! He’s got some strange ideas about how things work but in his life that IS how things work so he’s just going with what he knows. He’s put down a time or two but it works more as a building block for him than anything else. When Ben finally does get Jillian to capitulate it is incredible. The two of them together is beyond amazing and I loved reading every word. Now Ben and his questionable morals did throw me for a loop there near the end of the book but I had great hopes for him and he showed me that he was indeed the man that I thought he was. (That’s a good thing)

The other part of the story – besides the romance (yes there was one) - was done quite well. The secondary characters in this book, both the good guys and the bad guys, are not quite as well fleshed out as Jillian and Ben but still very vibrant within the story. I have to say I was more than pleased with how it all came together in the end. When I’m sitting and reading a book and I have to force my self to relax and not tense up while reading – it’s a good thing!

I guess I have to say to Holly and Rowena: Yes, you were right. (That hurt less than I thought it would. Lol) This was a wonderful book and it’s definitely one that will go on my keeper shelf to be re-read again and again.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Linda Howard
Pocket Books Romance


Rowena said...

Haha, YAY I'm so glad that you enjoyed it (though I knew you would)...now aren't you glad that Holly and I pounced!

But just so you know, Ben is still off limits...don't listen to Holly.


Janna said...

Wow, that was quite a reading experience by the sound of it! Loved your review and thoughts on Ben, lol.

Tracy said...

Rowena - Yes, I AM glad you pounced. It was a really good book!
And I'll fight you for Ben! lol

Janna - It was really great. Ben was just such a MAN! lol Very...male. :)

nath said...

I think this is one of the few Linda Howard I haven't read. I just can't get into this book ^_^; No matter what Holly and Rowena say :) I think part of the problem is I've never been much into expeditions story.

orannia said...

Glad you enjoyed it. My favourite Linda Howard book is still Mackenzie's Mountain :) I love me those Mackenzies *grin*