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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fierce Eden by Jennifer Blake

Fierce Eden by Jennifer Blake
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (394 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

She was living in fear…

Beautiful, young widow Elise Laffont embraces her freedom during the daylight hours, running the farm she loves so dearly, but the night brings with it painful reminders of the torment she endured at the hands of her abusive husband. Fate may have taken her husband, but it hasn’t erased the scars he left, and Elise wonders if she will ever be able to bear the touch of a man again.

He was a man torn by desire…

From the moment he laid eyes on the beautiful widow, Reynaud Chevalier wanted her. When disaster offers him the chance to claim her as his own, Reynaud seizes the opportunity to bind Elise to him, unaware that behind her determined bravado lays a heart shattered by the past.

Elise Laffont and Reynaud Chavalier’s trek through the forest to escape mayhem brings to mind the beginning of the Longfellow poem “Evangeline”:

“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight…”

Fierce Eden is a vicarious trip back in history with strong, resourceful, and, of course, flawed characters that are memorable. Their will to live, their determination to hold on to the culture they know, and their resilience is mindboggling—awesome reading.

The Natchez Indian Uprising, after so many years of ill treatment by the French, sets in motion events that start gigantic changes in the social structure of Louisiana Territory in the early eighteenth century. Fierce Eden is spellbinding.

Elise Laffont is a widow who has managed her property well since the death of her abusive husband, but her independent ways go against the grain of the many men who want her and her property. She’s been able to meet and beat their challenges until the Natchez Indians attack, killing and burning. Hiding in the forest, with nothing but the clothes on her back, she makes necessary decisions to stay alive. Her back-story gives the reader revealing insight into her survival instincts, her intelligence, and her skill with people.

The French-educated Reynaud Chavalier, half Natchez and half French, drives a hard bargain before he agrees to take Elise and other “on-the-run” French to a safe post. His own agenda puts him in danger, but he knows what he wants and is willing to take the risk. He seems to embody the best of both cultures in which he was reared. He is unquestionably a hero-though a somewhat flawed one. Even flawed, he is a lover that makes the heart race. To Elise who has suffered at the hands of every man she’s ever known, Reynaud is unbelievable. The freedom of choice he gives her becomes an aphrodisiac to Elise—the love scenes sizzle.

Elise and Reynaud’s love story reaches far past the physical. It shows a love that is loyal, faithful, giving, and felt to the core. However, Fierce Eden is much more than just a love story. It plumbs the depth of the human condition, reveals every one of the Cardinal Sins, yet, shows the compassion and caring that some of the characters never lose even when all hope seems gone. It also showcases how history is made and cultures changed.

Jennifer Blake, a master story teller, transports the reader to another time and place as she weaves together incredible descriptions of the environment, historical information, cultural differences, and a fantastic love story to create a tale that will be remembered long after the last page is read. Marvelous reading!