This one was a complete hit. I have determined that Clare has improved her writing with each new book published. Ride the Fire is the last of the Blakewell / Kenleigh Family trilogy, telling the story of Nicholas Kenleigh the first son born to Alec and Cassie of Sweet Release.
Nicholas joined in the French-Indian war but was captured and tortured by an Indian tribe. Catching the eye of the chief's daughter he avoided being killed but suffered greatly at the hands of the tribe before he escaped. The emotional scars he had, rivaled those his body endured and as he returned home he realized he couldn't pickup were his life had left off. So he returned to the wilderness and lived the next six years in a sort of limbo.
Elspeth Stewart escaped a tortuous past herself. She was married off after an incident with her step brother that made her weary of men in general. Her husband died recently leaving her in Frontier land heavy with child.
When Nicholas comes across her cabin in the woods, he is wounded and needs her assistance but she fears him and doesn't take lightly to his highhandedness in coercing her into giving him aid. They strike up a bargain where he will stay until he is of able body and in return he will not harm her and her unborn child as well as protect them against outside threat.
During the ensuing weeks they start to trust each other but it is not until Bethie gives birth that real trust starts to bear root. With trust also comes the attraction that start simmering between them. Circumstances keep them together through a mad dash out of the wilderness and to the nearest Fort where Bethie poses as Nicholas' wife.
This book just pulls you right in from page one. There is no lag at any point. We enjoy seeing how the coldness in Nicholas' heart melts into feelings he has problems accepting and with those feelings come the responsibilities he has tried to put aside. Bethie's past catches up with them and we see how Nicholas helps her confront the ghosts of her past while accepting that at one point he will have to do the same. He accepts this and doesn't hesitate when it's his turn to peel back the layers of his nightmares.
The journey through our history's past makes a wondrous backdrop for the love story between these two wounded souls. A wonderful ending to a great trilogy.