By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I picked this up on sale a month or so ago because of the series premise: a quartet of finishing school girls get caught up in the swarm of humanity fleeing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This first book in the series focuses on Deborah, the only daughter of one of the city's most wealthy men. During the fire, she is kidnapped and held for ransom by Tom Silver, a fisherman from Isle Royale who blames Deborah's father for the death of a loved one killed in an explosion at a mine her father owns.
Susan Wiggs is very, very good at setting a scene. The descriptions of the fire are masterful. The journey by water from Chicago, up through the locks at Sault Sainte Marie, and finally to the pine wilderness of Isle Royale is beautiful. The months of isolation during the winter on Isle Royale are simultaneously cozy and compelling, and desolate and lonely. I'm happy to have read the book just for the unique settings.
The romance fell flat for me. Deborah was too sheltered and too timid for my tastes. Tom was too much a stereotypical villain with a heart of gold. Their relationship was believable, albeit predictable (yet another kidnap victim falls in love with her captor), but it didn't connect with me emotionally.