Dark Fires [Bragg Saga #4] by Brenda Joyce

Publication Date: January 22nd, 2002
Format: Kindle Edition
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
“He murdered his wife,” they whispered. Nicholas Bragg, Earl of Dragmore, was notorious–even after a British court found him innocent. Now they called him Lord of Darkness, as much for his rakish good looks as for his black reputation.

She was an innocent at passion’s gate. Arriving uninvited at the massive stone manor, she shivered with terror–and excitement. Jane Barclay was his ward. Her sunny, innocent nature was in violent contrast to his hot temper. He was wild, explosive, an uncouth Texas rakehell–exactly the wrong kind of man for an English beauty to tame. Together they would be swept into the dark storm of their passionate destiny…and wild all-consuming love.

So this story rings like Bronte’s Jane Eyre; except there was sex (lots of it) and there was no wife who’s mentally ill hidden in the attic – just a scheming beyotch who couldn’t handle a little bit of the savage blood in Nick Bragg. You’d have to read this book to see for yourself.
Nicholas Bragg, being the first born son of Miranda Shelton, inherited the title of the Earl of Shelton from the Duke, his grandfather. Displaced from the wild, Wild West to the sprawling greens of England, he didn’t have a choice but to commit to the title he assumed. Rumored to have killed his wife, he haunted Dragmore and kept to his moniker, The Dark Lord. He didn’t mind the tile at all until he was saddled with an angelic, seventeen year-old ward. As soon as he saw Jane Barclay, he’s reminded of his dark nature, how he came to be and his real identity. He resisted Jane’s innocent charms but couldn’t really deny the palpable sexual tension between them. It wouldn’t take long until he had no choice but to face his demons and accept the inevitable. 
Jane Barclay understood the earl’s stigma – but only to a certain degree. His dark temper was clear as soon as they met. The thrill of being around him however, didn’t dissipate with every fit of rage he displayed. What she saw was a lonely man intent on putting walls around him. One night of drunken trance and Nick gave in to his baser instincts. The morning after came with the ugly realization that he must perform his duty, proposing to Jane in grievance. Jane refused then ran away. Years later and Nick couldn’t stay away. Thus began the story of a man in pursuit of a woman determined to disappear. 
I liked the gothic Victorian themes to this book. Nick suits the dark, mysterious hero characteristic of the genre. I’ve been reading this series for the last few days and the difference in setting is quite startling. This book didn’t have any historical reference running in the background unlike the last three books prior. What it has was an account of the importance of propriety and Society in England. Who couldn’t be more inappropriate than a half-breed Indian Nick Bragg? He was a rebel who wouldn’t put up with it dictates. 

The romance was tumultuous and a little intense. I think the pairing suited well because the two was literally night and day. While Jane has a bit of a wild streak in her, she was still more formal and more proper than Nick ever was. 
This book wasn’t as violent as the three others in this series. There was no imminent war, no rapes or KKK hiding in its pages – a truly romantic book regardless of the dark tones that epitomizes the gothic genre.

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