Burning Bright: In 1812, Elinor Pembroke wakes to find her bedchamber in flames—and extinguishes them with a thought. At 21, she is old to manifest magical talent, but the evidence is unmistakable: she not only has the ability to start a fire, but the far more powerful ability to control and extinguish them. She is an Extraordinary, and the only one in England capable of wielding fire in over one hundred years. As an Extraordinary, she is respected and feared, but to her father, she represents power and prestige for himself. Mr. Pembroke, having spent his life studying magic, is determined to control Elinor and her talent by forcing her to marry where he chooses, a marriage that will produce even more powerful offspring.
Trapped between the choices of a loveless marriage or living penniless and dependent on her parents, Elinor takes a third path: she defies tradition and society to join the Royal Navy. Assigned to serve under Captain Miles Ramsay aboard the frigate Athena, she turns her fiery talent on England’s enemies, French privateers and vicious pirates preying on English ships in the Caribbean. At first feared by her shipmates, a growing number of victories make her truly part of Athena’s crew and bring her joy in her fire. But as her power grows and changes in unexpected ways, Elinor’s ability to control it is challenged. She may have the power to destroy her enemies utterly—but could it be at the cost of her own life?
Well. I read Burning Bright whilst camping in the mountains with my various male family members, and they had to endure both my exclamations of dismay over 19th century chauvinism and my glee at heroine Elinor’s bravery and extraordinary “girl power.” The word extraordinary fits because Elinor is an Extraordinary in this version of the world, which means she has a power that is rare and valued. Her talent is with the wielding and controlling of fire, which is rather useful. Burning Bright is unique and intense compared to our usual fare, and I was literally on the edge of my hammock by the end. And my boys knew that I wholeheartedly wished for fire to come out of my fingertips. All my attempts failed.
Sometimes when Sissy gets REALLY angry, fire comes out of her eyeballs, but that’s less useful of a talent…
I’m so frightening, I know. Everyone thinks so. I just wish it was REAL fire. Then I’d get the respect I deserve. Plus I’d obliterate pirates.
Before I go into my ravings about how much I enjoyed Burning Bright, I must offer you readers a small disclaimer. This story is about war. They are right in the middle of several pretty intense battles and Elinor has to use her power both defensively and offensively. It’s a little violent. There’s nothing graphic, and it makes for a great story, but I just wanted to make you all aware that Elinor is not spending her time at tea parties and sewing circles! Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s proceed to the part where I gush about how fabulous this novel is. I was, just like Sissy, riveted. There is action and adventure and even romance. I don’t want to spoil anything, but oh! Captain Ramsay! That man is Colin Firth in “Pride and Prejudice” worthy! Swoon!
Yes, Captain Ramsay very ably provides us a side of romance with his strong and silent yet secretly tender persona. There are many interesting and multi-faceted side characters in Burning Bright, including Elinor’s tyrannical and self-serving father, who basically wants to use her as a brood mare for magical offspring. If you haven’t read a fantasy regency novel before, this is an excellent place to start. Who can resist the lure of a Regency lass kicking trash on the Pirates of the Caribbean? And the cover is gorgeous! Melissa McShane has written a riveting, entertaining tale. Will we see more from her, Bubby?
Of course we will! Melissa McShane already has several other books available (The Crown of Tremontane Series, Emissary, The Smoke-Scented Girl and The View From Castle Always) as well as a serial novel (Sesskia’s Diary) that is only available on her website. Will she write a sequel to Burning Bright? Well, it says that it’s book #1 in the Extraordinary Series, so I’d say absolutely yes! I hope she hurries!
Click HERE to buy Burning Bright by Melissa McShane