Refiner’s Fire, by Ann Nolder Heinz

Another stunning period piece by the author. 

A riches to ruin tale of an upperclass southern belle. Lizzie Hamilton’s life gets real exciting, real fast. As she undertakes the journey far from the comforts of her Charleston plantation, she finds herself barraged with a myriad of life lessons. Most of which are learned the hard way, but that’s where all her development comes from. 

I like how the author made a story about growth, but didn’t make being rich the end result. For everyday Joes, being a millionaire is something of a wild concept. So the fact that Lizzie hits many of the hardships that the working class endures, it’s not about the money and status. It started that way, sure. Definitely did not end that way. The level of personal development for such a sheltered, proper young lady was massive. 

Writing style, again, was well-suited for the tone of the novel. Highbrow and proper at the beginning. Narration and dialogue changed with the actions of the story. The farther Lizzie delved into the working class, the more her speech reflected that. 
Knowledge of the time period was obvious and consistent throughout. There were, of course, several stereotypes. However, they felt useful for the end game of the novel. 
Description was quite good. Given the saturation of the Wild West in the media, things were easy to picture. The author took a definitive step away from the classic themes of the West. No gun-slinging deputies or damsels in distress there. In fact, all the women were capable. There were the obvious allowances for the time, but the author took creative license and elevated the women. It never felt like there was an actual villain, or antagonist. There were people with which conflict occurred, but the actual antagonist ended up being her situation rather than a person. 

I did have some questions left at the end. Things that I don’t feel were quite as wrapped up as they could be. There was an allusion to one of the authors’ other novels, A Light Within. One of the characters makes an appearance, and we get a nifty little backstory to them. I like the continuity between the novels. 

Another excellent novel from this author. Bring the olden days back to life in a tasteful way. They always manage to construct such excellent settings and characters. An author to keep an eye on for sure. 

Buy it here!

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