Spurned twice since the death of her first love in a logging accident, Lainey Kade has become the object of talk. "That Lainey, she's a shrew all right. Not ever going to marry, likely," the gossips say. Fleeing heartache and flaunting convention, Lainey seeks solace instead in seeking adventure and breaking the rules.
Embarking on a journey where she hopes to put the past behind her, Lainey crosses paths with brothers Zane and Kelly Beumont and pretends to be a married woman. It isn't long, however, before they find her out, and she soon forges an adventurous companionship with these men whose nightmares since the Civil War have never let them return home.
Following the lead of the next thrill, the ties of their friendship tighten, and Lainey denies love's rekindling spark. But, as fires rage across the Wisconsin wilderness, the brothers' attraction to her may tear them each apart, and Lainey may be consumed by the fury burning inside her.
When the others had gone, Lainey sat back down and waited for Zane to address her. For a long while he shuffled cards and said nothing at all. Then he stopped, cut the deck, and began to deal. When he finished and they both picked up their cards, he stared at her long and hard. She waited for him to speak. He didn't even blink. She finally dropped her gaze and squirmed beneath his silent examination.
"Are we going to play?" Her voice sounded breathy and slight in her ears.
He lifted a one-sided smile at her, and his eyes slipped into a dreamy gaze. "Sure we are. The first thing you need to learn, Lainey, is that you should never let someone disconcert you the way I just did. If you can hold steady under scrutiny, then you're a long way towards a better bluff than your opponent."
She took a deep breath. "I see."
"You understand that half of the game is the ability to bluff and to read your opponent."
"I don't know if you do."
Something in his tone pulled at her. "I think I do."
"But you're not a very good bluffer."
"I've not had the chance--"
"Haven't you?" He leaned forward on his elbows and perused her face so closely that her skin felt hot. She pressed back in her chair and frowned.
"You're not married, are you? Stephen isn't your husband. He isn't even your betrothed."
Lainey's mouth fell open and snapped closed again.
Zane smiled. "I thought not."
What was the point in arguing? He'd found her out. "How did you know?"
"As I said, you don't bluff as well as you think, but I can help you with that." His steady smile finally reached his eyes. They were clear again and sparkling and Lainey had the distinct feeling that she'd crossed onto more dangerous ground.
But she liked it.
"All right, Zane. Then teach me how to bluff."
Posted by Desert Breeze Publishing on behalf of Tracy Krauss on 15th Jun 2013
The Red Fury, Book Two in Naomi Musch’s Empire in Pine Series, is bursting with rich imagery. Every sight, sound and smell is vividly described as this historical story of romance and bravery unfolds. Lainey Kade has been irreparably hurt and seeks a new life away from her family. Labeled ‘un-marriable’ by some unfeeling community members, she leaves her home in the woods of Wisconsin to carve out a new life for herself as a single woman. She meets up with the Beaumont brothers, ‘drifters’ who are emotionally scarred after the civil war. They become fast friends and cohorts as they seek adventure, all the while trying to make sense of their shattered lives. The story unfolds at a gentle yet steady pace as both Beaumont brothers discover they have feelings for Lainey. The sensitive character development, largely facilitated by the three way point of view, forces the reader to feel invested in each person. This is a superb continuation of the saga started in Book One - The Green Veil. Some of the scenes were so real and when I read the credits at the end, I discovered that such events as the burning of a logging town, plus other details from the period, were meticulously researched and included. No wonder the book rings with authenticity! I probably enjoyed book two even more than book one, if that is possible, and I highly recommend the entire series.