Blaze by Susan Johnson is a sensual Regency historical romance novel set in the early 1800’s. To accommodate Ms. Johnson’s extensive history on topics such as slavery, the civil war, native Americans, gold mining, and abortions, the novel was over 500 pages. I don’t know the last time I read a novel over 400 pages far less 500. It was vivid and verdant with greedy and malicious characters, as well as the beauty of the Absarokee in full regalia, especially the Chiefs.
The leading characters had flaws that I cringed to read about, but they were believable characteristics for Venetia Blaze Braddock and Jon Hazard Black. When Blaze and Hazard came together you knew you could expect tempers to flare, amazing sex, and green eye monsters to show themselves. I found Hazard very funny and frustrating, especially the scene where he came back to his mining cabin with Blaze. This scene unfolded because he wanted clothes, chocolates, and books to keep her entertained, while he’s mining for gold. Blaze begs him not to go into town, because Yancy Strahan maybe lying in wait to kill him. He goes anyway, because he believes he’s invincible.
When Hazard enters town, he sees his nemesis’ men strategically placed at entrances and exits to Rose’s establishment. He climbs over buildings, jumps across rooftops, and climbs through Rose’s window. When Rose sees it’s Hazard, she tries to impart the urgency in leaving posthaste. Hazard is only interested in books, chocolates, and dresses for his lover. Rose is exasperated when he requests, “if you have some [books] you don’t mind lending.”
“Lend? I think you’ve gone mad, Hazard. Watch my lips, darling. There are men out there itching to kill you. Do not, under any circumstances, consider bringing these back.” Rose shoves an armful of books at him. Then goes on to say, “Keep them! Do not return them. Do not return at all! Not until Yancy Strahan is gone or dead. Understand?”
Cool as you please Hazard place the books in his cloth bag. Tension rising as one of Rose’s workers had previously spotted Hazard. The man also works for Yancy. Rose is in a panic, while Hazard is moving slow like molasses. He stares at her after he added the last of the books to his bag. Rose finally asks, “What are you waiting for?”
Hazard replied with a temperate smile, “the dresses. If they’re ready.” I burst out laughing at this point, because I can feel Rose’s anger and fear warring with each other. I also am holding my breath. I know, it’s difficult to laugh and hold your breath. lol. This was that good. Susan Johnson really does tension well.
Rose explodes, “do you have a goddamn death wish? I hope you live dammit to let her see that charming smile again.” There’s action taking place between the lines of dialog. Rose stalking over to the armoire and jerking out dresses, and flinging them at him.
“You’re a sweetheart,” he blandly responds. And then proceeds to ask, “I don’t suppose you found any Guerlain?” He’s asking for the chocolates. If Blaze only knew he was risking his life for these trivial things, I’m sure she would be throwing her own temper tantrum by kicking him or pulling her hair out. lol. I won’t tell you anymore, or give the action away, but I hope you pick up a copy of this very entertaining novel.
The other thing I loved about this novel were the end-notes. On my E-reader I had two options: read the entire novel, and then the end notes, or press the number, and be transported to the fact at the end of the novel.
I chose to read the entire novel and then digest the end-notes. It made for some pretty interesting reads. Ms. Johnson handled all the big issues very nicely. She also explained some of the views of the settlers in that period. It was interesting to read how they felt about the Absorokee. I had never heard about the Absarokees before, and was happy to learn that I did know of them after reading the definition of their name. I won’t take the fun away from you, but will invite you to pick up a copy of Blaze, and thumb through the end-notes for an enjoyable history lesson.
I give this novel 5 plus stars!