Set against the backdrop of the Chicago Fire of 1871, this fictionalized account grabs the reader quickly. The descriptions of the fire and the reactions of the people were excellent.
Tom Silver, upset by the death of his adoptive son, Asa, goes to Chicago to kill Arthur Sinclair, the man he knows to be responsible for Asa's loss. Instead, he kidnaps Arthur's only heir, his daughter Deborah.
We soon learn that Arthur is a social-climber and one of the richest men in Chicago. He has promised his daughter to one Philip Ascot, a penniless man of Chicago's 'old money.' With the marriage, Arthur will attain his fondest wish - to be accepted by the upper crust of Chicago society.
Because the two main characters, Tom and Deborah, had so far to go emotionally, I was relieved that the relationship took a big hunk of the book to ripen. It takes time to move from kidnapper/kidnapee to friends, etc. By taking the long route, I found the relationship to be very realistic.
On the down side, the story is an oft-told one. However, Susan Wiggs wrapped it within a larger story (the burning of Chicago and its aftermath), lifting it out its common roots.
Chicago Fire Trilogy
1. The Hostage (2000)
2. The Mistress (2000)
3. The Firebrand (2001)
Susan Wiggs does it again! The first of a trilogy based on the friendship of three friends and their fates as the Chicago fire sweeps through the city. I read this one and went searching for the other two; The Firebrand and The Mistress.
Good book. Story line is not heavy so it makes for a quick read.