on July 11, 2002
This is the first romance novel I ever read. I picked it up by recommendation of my mother, a long time Lindsey fan. This, of course, was several years ago and I have read more in the genre. When I first read it I was shocked and horrified. Recently I decided to reread it and see if it was as bad as I remembered. I still hate it!
The Basic Plot goes Lady Catherine, a forceful, competant earl's daughter of impeccable moral character, disguises herself as a maid to spy on her sister. When she goes out into London, she ends up belting an oaf who makes passes at her. This is something she regrets later on for the action amuses Prince Dimitri of Russia. Dimitri is a drop-dead-gorgeous stud who mission in life is to bed many beautiful women. His level of studliness is so high that maidens fall at his feet and beg him to relief them of their virginity. Catherine isn't the drop-dead-gorgeous vixen often found in pulp romance, but still she made him laugh, causing the prince to decide HE MUST HAVE HER! (What a plot twist.) So she's kidnapped and drugged with Spanish Fly in her tea to make her comply to his will. But raping her isn't enough for our dear prince charming. He decides to take her on his sea voyage to Russia while locked in a trunk. He can't have insane peasants who claim to be earl's daughters making waves during the Tsar's visit to England. So begins a turbulent lust -er- love story. Dimitri and Catherine hiss and spit at one another alot. (Dimitri trying to get her into bed again and Catherine adamantly refusing even though he makes her tremble with desire, making him angry which makes her angry ) But that doesn't stop them from reaching their quota of hot sex.
Here are the complaints:
1. Catherine's rape (any court would agree with me here) is too asily put on the back burner. It's like drugging someone into having sex is dismissed as if its not wrong. Even if the moral/ethical aspects aren't dealt with, Catherine doesn't worry being pregnant or that losing her virginity can bar her from marriage and make her a social pariah. This was set in 1844, y'know, but I guess Lindsey figured it didn't matter since she's going to end up with Dimitri anyway.
2. Dimitri has no illigitamate children! How can I believe this given Dimitri's high level of sexual activity. This guy probably thinks two days without a woman is a long period of celibacy. He should have enough kids to double the population of Bulgaria! Unbelievable!
3. Catherine realizes she loves Dimitri during a fit of lust induced by being drugged... yet again... on his order.That's just sick and wrong.
4. The Lust Potion itself sounds like Spanish Fly even though they never actually call it that. Just for your information, Spanish Fly is highly toxic, so you just have wonder what kind of hero is willing to poison a woman just becuase he's feeling frisky.
5. And perhaps most unbelievable of all is when Catherine returns to England with a child yet no husband... and the Ton welcomes her back and assumes her husband died while she was abroad. Huh!? Every other novel I've read depicts English high society as a malicious bunch of gossips who love nothing more than to destory people on the barest breathe of scandal. She dissapears out of the blue for months and comes back from Russia with a baby with her and yet her character remains untarnished!? Sounds pretty juicy to me.
Final Grade: F
on July 7, 2004
"Secret Fire" is definitely an eye-opening experience. The writing is explosive, filled to the brim with memorable scenes and outstanding characters.
It's the story of Russian Prince Dimitri, who sees English aristocrat Katherine on the street in disguise as a maid and decides to have her for the night. His personal manservant Vladimir won't let her refuse, and kidnaps her. From that point on, "Secret Fire" is a breathless romp between two stubborn, passionate people aching to be with one another.
The love scenes alone are original. Yes, she's drugged - but not by Dimitri (at first). However, I've never read anything sexier than what happens when these two are together. Later, Katherine's imperial temper and scathing wit collide with Dimitri's tyrant of an aunt, which results in an absolutely shocking punishment, followed by one of the coolest "rescue" scenes ever (in a kitchen, no less).
I love this story. Dimitri and his "Katya" are hot together, and their story is wickedly delightful and totally unforgettable. The only true criticism I have is that Lindsey spends one or two chapters solely discussing Russia and Russian history, which was not as interesting as Dimitri and Katherine's love lives. If you are a history or culture buff, this won't bother you; if you just want to see the two get it on, it won't hurt you to skip these passages.
"Secret Fire" is one of Lindsey's more risqué and fascinating stories. I highly recommend it!!!!
on April 25, 2004
Lady Katherine St John is dressed as a maid making her way through the streets of London when she is suddenly plucked off the street by a Russian at the order of his master, Prince Dimitri, simply because he must have her. She is unwilling to give herself to Dimitri for any price and therefore the Russian servant drugs her with some sort of date rape drug of the 1800s. Due to the drug, she is in firing need for a man's touch. Enter Prince Dimitri at the rescue to douse her flaming body. After the hot sexual encounter, Dimitri decides that he must return her to Russia with him in case a scandal breaks out. He doesn't believe that she is a lady because she was dusguised in a maid's clothing. Once in Russia, Katherine tries to plan her escape without much success.
I must say the sex scenes were hot although it is slightly scandalous that Katherine was in effect drugged and raped in her first meeting with Dimitri. However, if you can put aside the raping incident, the book is really quite a good read and the interaction between the two main leads is fun. I did find the ending a little bit rushed though.
on October 29, 2003
Hmmmmm, looks like many people have strong words about this book, mainly disgust and repulsion of lack of moral and resonableness of the plot. The story was a little forced and sort of assumed we would not have a sense of logic to spot the far-fetched plot of the story. Dimitri's behaviour was certainly outrageous, no matter how permissive his lifestyle. Sexual satisfaction or rather, unsatiable sexual need, was the first and most important attraction. But then, we read romance novels for romantic and sexual fantasy. Katherine first had sex with Dimitri because she was drugged and dying with need. Well, it was not morally right. (...) At least Katherine abstained from Dimitri since then till she was drugged again, and Dimitri did not force her, so I gave some credit for their moral and character. But Katherine did not seem as intelligent as she was made out to be, kind of naive in some ways though I found her stubborness quite entertaining to read about. A complaint would be that the ending appeared to be hastily written. To those who complain loudly about the logic and moral loopholes of this book, well, just take the story as a pinch of salt, we read such novels for fantasy, no point killing our brain cells to agonise the sense and sensibility of it.
on June 2, 2002
Being a long time Johanna Lindsey fan, I immediately picked up _Secret Fire_ when I saw it on the shelf of the library, realizing I had found a book of hers that I'd never read! The excitement of a new book! However, that excitement quickly died.
The basis for the plot is an often used but enjoyed one... mistaken identity. While in disguise to fool her sister, Lady Katherine is mistaken for a servant, leading to her abduction in order to please a Russian prince who has taken it upon himself to 'hire her services for the evening'. She says no, and is kidnapped. When it becomes clear that she won't cooperate, she is drugged, lest the servants upset their Prince. The powerful aphrodesiac brings a night of passion upon them both. Katherine is then kidnapped and taken to Russia where more of the same ensues.
I've never been so horrifically offended by a romance novel before. I've been a long time fan of Ms. Lindsey, but would never have read another of her books had I started with this one. I cannot believe that it was published, or even reprinted. It cannot be compared with the much enjoyed Malory books. The two hours I spent reading it in the hopes that she would pull out a decent book were a waste of time. I'll still continue to enjoy her other books, but will certainly never be reading this one again, nor recommending it to anyone.
on January 6, 2001
In a desperate attempt to prevent her sister from making a terrible mistake, Lady Katherine St. John changes places with her maid. While in disguise, she is accosted and manages to ward off her offender. Prince Dimitri of Russia sees the exchange and is amused by the wench's boldness. With a word, he has her taken off the street and into his room. He is stunned when this little maid gives him a severe tongue-lashing, amused when she protests that she is a lady, and overcome with lust when she is given a potent drug designed to cause her body to enflame with desire. After a night of pure pleasure, Dimitri has Katherine brought to his ship, which is bound for Russia. Katherine is drawn to this handsome man, but can not bring herself to become his mistress. Dimitri is drawn to Katherine, but can not bring himself to marry a servant. What will happen when he finally learns the truth?
Katherine is no great beauty and has the reputation of being intelligent, cool, and very practical. She is a fantastic character and very likable. Dimitri is handsome and arrogant, but when he is around Katherine, he loses himself. He becomes tender and devoted. Together they sizzle!
on October 8, 2000
Out of all of Johanna Lindsey's novels, I feel that this one is the most satisfying to read. I've read a lot of her books, and I found that most of them were either horribly written or lacking enough suspense or excitement to make me want to keep reading. Not so with Dimitri and Katherine's story...
Dimitri is the typical God's gift to women... breathtakingly handsome, perfect body, and wealth to boot. He sees Katherine, an extraordinarily plain looking woman with am explosive personality, and decides he just HAS to have her. Immediately the sparks fly, for who would have thought that Katherine wouldn't want him?
What follows is a clever plot that had me rolling in laughter at times and on the brink of tears at others. Lindsey somehow manages to write a romance novel not just aboutsex, but also provides two fantastic characters and their story together. For those Lindsey fans out there, a must-read. And for those don't particularly care for this author's past works such as myself, I suggest you try this one. It just might change your mind as it did mine.
on November 25, 2003
Okay, I don't know what book you other reviewers read but it can't be the same Secret Fire 'cause the one I read rocked! Katherine and Dimitri have such amazing chemistry I'm tempted to go to Russia with the hope that I'd meet someone just as fabulous as Dimitri. So I've heard their first encounter described as rape, I'm inclined to think diferently. The only aspect of this book I didn't thoroughly like was the fact that Katherine never completely explained her clothing until close to the end of the book, oh well withouth that tidbit the story wouldn't have been as great as it is. By the by, those of you readers who didn't even finish the book I don't see how you feel justified to report on it when you don't even know the whole story. Think about that. Do whatever you want to do but reading this, i'm sure, will be an enjoyable use of your time. Personally, I'm desperately hoping for either a sequel/prequel or just another story set in Russia. Happy Reading
on October 17, 2001
This novel is set against the background of 1840's London and Russia. The first chapters knock one's socks off, they are so powerful. They describe how an earl's daughter is kidnapped, drugged, and against her will, driven by the drugs to submit to the passionate love-making of a Russsian prince. It is one of the most explicit such scenes that Ms. Lindsey has written. While the plotline that follows is interesting, the first chapters are just so extraordinary,that the rest of the book seems to drag in places. Ms. Lindsey's humor and wit are rife throughout, and the book pulls at one's heartstrings. There does not appear to be a sequel to this story, even though the secondary characters in this novel could carry a sequel--Dmitri's sister Anastasia, his friend Vassili etc. This is well worth reading, especially at this time in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks on America, it is welcome respite.
on April 8, 2001
I've been reading Lindsey's work for a very long time, and although the majority of her novels have been barely worth buying, this is definitely one of her best. Finally, another original. Beyond the intense, sizzling sex scenes of which I have rarely seen the like in writing, the mere fact that an average-appearing woman can win over a man like Dimitri with her personlity is a breakthrough in romance literature. Too often in most cheesey romances, including several of Lindsey's own, do you see a woman's beauty become the only characteristic drawing a hero to her.
By the way, if you're looking for a read that will truly have you laughing out loud throughout the entire novel, try Lindsey's Gentle Rogue. James Malory has always been my favorite hero, and I've still yet to find anyone who disagrees with me after they read the novel. Dimitri in Secret Fire is no James Malory.