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The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

The Fire Rose (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Mercedes Lackey

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1,572334,648 (3.87)113
Title:The Fire Rose
Authors:Mercedes Lackey
Info:Baen (1996), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library

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The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey (1995)

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Rosalind Hawkins is screwed. She had been in the middle of getting her masters degree when her father died, leaving behind a mountain of debts and no way to pay them off. Now all Rose has to her name is a couple of ratty dresses and handful of worthless mementos. And since this is 1905 her options of employment are pretty limited. So when Rose receives a job offer to be a governess for the railroad baron, Jason Cameron, she accepts it and moves to San Francisco. But when Rose arrives at Cameron’s estate she finds the place strangely devoid of human life except for Cameron’s creepy valet. She also discovers that the governess position was a hoax and that what Cameron really needed was someone who could read several ancient languages. This is fine with Rose seeing as she never really wanted to deal with a bunch of screaming kids anyway and she’ll be able to use her college education. Plus there are also the added bonuses of a big check, a new wardrobe, and plush living quarters. All for just reading to a disabled guy via speaking tube every night.

There was too many things going on at once between Rose and Jason’s developing relationship, the mission to find a way to reverse Jason’s wolf-iness, the valet creeping around, the other fire master trying to take Jason down, and the list goes on. It was still a really great story, but it felt too rushed for my tastes. The main villain was supposed to be the other fire master in the area and yet we hardly ever saw him. So I didn’t really get a chance to build up a nice big chuck of hate for the character. I disliked the valet a hell of a lot more than the main villain and the valet was just a pawn. So that kind of took away from the big showdown between Jason and the other fire master. -That showdown was still pretty awesome though.-

Despite the off stage main villain, all the other characters were awesome. Rose was smart and didn’t freak out over every little thing that Jason pulled with her. And Jason was awesome, even though he did have a bit of a stalker thing going with his being able to use mirrors to see what other people were doing. He watched Rose constantly, but that mostly because he didn’t trust her too much and then because he was vicariously living through her. This was fine by me, seeing as he didn’t build a shrine to her or start sniffing her underwear. Jason also had a great back story and was just a great character.

I was kind of disappointed when Jason didn’t find a way to reverse what happened to him. I think it’s because so much of the plot was about him trying to find some way to change him self back that I felt cheated when he didn’t find a cure. Also the way the plot was set up I think I would’ve looked at it more as him being redeemed from his past arrogance, etc. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
I'm not terribly impressed with Mercedes Lackey here. The story was just barely passable, and I found myself impatient to have it over with. The mildly interesting aspect was the magical realm of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, and the corresponding Eastern version. ( )
  2wonderY | Dec 26, 2014 |
Loved this! I cant believe I had her ebooks all this time and only now decided to read. Definitely my kind of story, set in the past, lots of descriptiveness and great rewrite of Beauty and the Beast. In a way some people may say it wasnt a completely happy ending, but I think it was more realistic? (In a magical sense :D)
Also the romance.. you really have to read well into the book to find it though you know its going to happen, they are not 'romantic', but I love their slow liking and love for each other.
Also this book mentions is not 'fairytale' happy, there is a lot of real life horribleness. Though it is never really graphic, it mentions sex slavery.

Anyway I loved it and can't wait to read the rest of her work. :) ( )
  JazMinderr | Jul 31, 2014 |
A different take on the traditional Beauty and the Beast, very entertaining. I expect nothing but the best from Mercedes Lackey ( )
  Steph1203 | Mar 14, 2014 |
This book is set in the early 20th century. Rose Hawkins is a young scholar in Chicago who finds herself having to make some tough decisions after her father dies and creditors take nearly everything she has left. With no other options left to her, she accepts a position as a governess for the children of Jason Cameron, a wealthy rail baron in San Francisco. When she arrives at her new home and workplace, she discovers that Cameron wasn't entirely truthful. While he doesn't actually have children, he does need her scholarly expertise. A recent accident has made it impossible to read the books he needs to read in order to conduct his research. Rose agrees to work for him under these changed conditions, but the strange books he has her reading make her begin to wonder about the secrets Cameron is hiding.

And wonder she should - Cameron is no ordinary man, and his accident was definitely not a normal one. Cameron is an Elemental Master whose specialty is Fire. Confident in his abilities, Cameron attempted a spell that he thought would allow him to assume the form of a wolf at will. However, something went wrong, and he was left in a painful half-man, half-wolf body. He's determined to find a way to undo what he's done, but he needs help for that, which is where Rose comes in. Of course, Rose is neither stupid nor incurious, and Jason eventually finds it necessary to prove the existence of Elemental Magic to her. Rose stays by Jason, even when she discovers what his accident has done to his appearance. With an old enemy looking for any exploitable weakness, Jason needs all the friends he can get.

I have to admit, I wouldn't have minded it if Lackey had only written this one Elemental Masters book. This is by far the best in the series, with interesting and usually enjoyable characters and an almost believable romance (I'll get to that later). The "Beauty and the Beast" aspect doesn't feel at all forced, mainly because Lackey doesn't require that the book use all the details from the story (actually, she doesn't use hardly any).

The magical system was fascinating. I suppose I can see why she felt the need to write more books - this one only scratched the surface of one or two elements, leaving much more that could be explored. This book teaches readers about Elemental Magic through Rose, who becomes Jason's apprentice - it's a nice way to give readers a lot of information while keeping things from getting boring. I loved reading about the Salamanders, and I only wish Lackey had spent more time writing about the Sylphs.

The setting was also fun to read about. I can't personally say whether Lackey got all the details right, but nothing struck me as being jarringly wrong. I wasn't always a fan of Rose and Jason's many popular culture references (or what would have been popular culture back then - musicals, opera, books, etc.) - those felt a little overdone, like Lackey was trying a little too hard. I did, however, like the "life in 1905/1906" details that came up occasionally, like the tidbits about Rose's clothing, etc. Rose's trip to Chinatown was also a lot of fun.

I also enjoyed the romance in this book, although this is one of those romantic storylines that is most enjoyable if you don't think about it too much. The friendship and, eventually, love between Rose and Jason develops smoothly and naturally enough. I think what bothers me is thinking about how the mechanics of their relationship will work. Unlike "Beauty and the Beast," which ends with the Beast becoming a man again, Jason doesn't become like he once was. At one point, Jason finds himself wondering how a relationship between him and Rose could possibly work, since kissing him would be like "kissing an Alsatian," even though he's pretty much human from nipples to mid-thigh. Rose is, at first, startled and upset by Jason's appearance, but she gradually grows used to him and even finds him a little attractive, kind of like one of the Egyptian gods. This, I'm guessing, is supposed to reassure readers that she won't mind doing more than hand-holding with Jason, but I'm not buying it. Apparently, either Lackey thought a sex scene, or even kissing, would turn readers off, or maybe even she couldn't picture how things would work out, because Rose and Jason are never described as doing more than holding hands.

Some readers may also be turned off by Lackey's one-dimensional villains. Paul, Jason's apprentice and secretary, has absolutely no redeeming characteristics. Actually, the fact that Jason knew about his apprentice's horrific entertainments and did nothing is a black mark against him - if Rose ever finds out, Jason's going to be in the dog house, no pun intended. Simon, Jason's enemy, is even more one-dimensional. He's there to be both bad and (somewhat) clever, while Paul is merely bad. If you like your villains to be more than just cardboard, this is not the book for you.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and it held up nicely to a re-read, after a few years of sitting in my bookshelves collecting dust. I think I'll just pretend that the other books in the series never happened...

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 24, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mercedes Lackeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burn, AdamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Golden as sunlight, white-hot, the Salamander danced and twisted sinuously above a plate sculpted of Mexican obsidian, ebony glass born in the heart of a volcano and shaped into a form created exactly to receive the magic of a creature who bathed in the fires of the volcano with delight.
Then, after an interlude of terror too long to be time, it was over.
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Book description
Based on fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, set in 1905 - 1906 San Francisco.
Rosalind Hawkins is a medieval scholar from a fine family in Chicago. Unfortunately, her professor father has speculated away the family money and died, leaving young Rosalind with no fortune and no future. Desolate with grief, forced to cut her education short, she agrees to go Wet to take a job as governess to a wealthy man in San Francisco. A boom townin the 1850s, in 1905 San Francisco is the center of culture in the new West, and perhaps there she will rediscover a reason for living.
But when she arrives at Jason Cameron's mansion on a hill overlooking the Pacific, she discovers there are no children, not even a wife, in residence: just the gentleman himself and his enigmatic manservant. Penniless, Rosalind stays despite her misgivings. For the household is very odd indeed. Despite there being but one servant, the huge house is immaculate and food is prepared and served in the most elegant manner. Oddest of all is the master of hte house" Rosalind never sees him, but communicates only through a speaking--tube, and only at night. But then ... she is happy. For her job in the household is to read to him: Latin, French, Greek German - and she feels herself coming alive once more.
As for Jason Cameron, through his contact with Rosalind, he, too, is renewed. An Adept and Alchemist, Master of the Element of Fire, he had attempted the old French werewolf transformation - and bungled it. Stuck in wolf form, over the years hew had slowly been losing his humanity. Rosalind is bringing it sack to him. But when a rival alchemist offers Rosalind the chance to restore her family's fortune in exchange for Jason's secret, who will she side with? And then the earthquake strikes ...
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San Francisco, 1905: Rosalind, a medieval scholar, is hired by Jason, a powerful sorcerer. Jason's enemy offers to restore Rosalind's family fortune if she will betray Jason. And then the earthquake strikes. . . .

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