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The Hostage (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,630 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
A sweeping tale of love born from the ashes of revenge. . .

October 8, 1871 -- One small spark ignites the entire city of Chicago, sending its residents into panic. But amid the chaos, a chance encounter leads to an unexpected new love.

Unaware of the fire sweeping toward them, Deborah Sinclair confronts her wealthy, powerful father, determined to refuse the society marria

Kindle Edition
Published (first published April 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 19, 2010 Crista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, historical, series
So beware romance fans...this book reads more like fiction than romance until the last 100 pages or so...but when it FINALLY morphs into a romance novel it is really really good romance.

I'm a sucker for the movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Spoiled rich girl is exposed to hard work, family, and true love for the first time and never looks back. The Hostage is like that. Deborah is a wealthy heiress who is supposed to marry a member of the peer in order to give her wealthy dad t
Not many books leave me speechless, especially not books by authors I've never read before, but Susan Wiggs succeeded with this first book in her Chicago Fire Trilogy.

It started so slow I was convinced I'd be bored to tears only a few chapters in, but that's when things picked up pace and I was riveted until the very end. As a fellow reader mentioned in her review, this is a story you cannot help but call sweeping and majestic. Sure, it spanned only a few months, but it read more like a saga, du
Oct 30, 2008 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
It's 1871 and with the Great Fire of Chicago raging in the background, Tom Silver of Isle Royale takes advantage of the chaos and slips into Arthur Sinclair's home, intent on killing him. Arthur Sinclair's business interests have destroyed many lives on Isle Royale, including Tom Silver's foster son and he's come for his reckoning. Instead, Arthur escapes, leaving behind his only child to face Tom alone.

Deborah Sinclair knows her father's wishes and has always tried to obey. He wants her to mar
Marion Marchetto
Action. Adventure. Suspense. Murder. Mayhem. Kidnapping. Isolation. Desolation. Near Death. Introspection. Rape. Romance. Compassion. Empathy. Self-Reinvention. All of this and more set against the backdrop of The Great Chicago Fire.

When Deborah Sinclair experiences one life-changing event, she is unprepared for a chain-of-events that is set in motion on the night of the Chicago Fire. Returning to her father's mansion to confront him with a decision she has made about her engagement, she thwarts
* Must love big strong half Indian mountain men, who will walk through miles and miles of life threatening blizzards to save his woman*
Deborah Sinclair is an heiress who is engaged to be married to a man from an aristocratic family mainly because her father wants this marriage. Something happened with this fiance' and she goes to her father to tell him she will not marry this man. Her father ignores this and next thing you know all of Chicago is on fire and they are getting ready to flee. In c
Oct 27, 2016 Sonia189 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More between a 3.5 and a 3.8 than a 4.
I liked the book the plot, I loved how several situations were described and developed, the HEA was great too... but some descriptions were too lengthy and other things not as interesting.
The next one seems to be better, let's hope so.
Connie N.
Starts out as a typical regency romance but becomes a bit more interesting as the story evolved and adventure followed adventure. I liked the development of the heroine Deborah but Philip and Tom were not as well-rounded so I found I had a much harder time relating to them, Tom especially. Interesting twist at the end but a bit abrupt. I guess that was the intention, but it left me unfulfilled. This is my first Susan Wiggs book, and I've liked it enough to read some more.
Feb 27, 2017 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chicago Fire, the societal expectations and restrictions of the time and winter on the Great Lakes make for a great read that's romance, adventure, comedy, mystery.....and history.
Feb 02, 2012 Marleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: susan-wiggs
For a week or two now, I’ve been feeling very drawn to dive back into historical romance reads. Sometimes it’s just that fun and light escapism that you are able to cope with or that you yearn for. So I browsed around online bargain bookstores for some paperbacks in that genre and I ordered quite a few of the “not-so-recent” Susan Wiggs books for affordable prices and I’m quite thrilled with my selection! I think Susan Wiggs often delivers great story-telling. It’s not because I enjoy light read ...more
Linda Walters
Feb 21, 2017 Linda Walters rated it it was ok
Slow starting. Slow moving. At times it felt too wordy. Were different areas and surroundings detailed? Yes. There was some good research that went on. Still for me, it felt like there was so much of it that it took away from the story. I found myself starting to skip through parts of that. I hate to say that because the author had to have done a lot of work in that area. But it did start to get better for me about half way through (maybe a bit more than half). Then things did begin to speed up ...more
Jennifer Hevern
When I started this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I ended up loving it. I love how Deborah made the decision to move forward, to
Actually, 3,45 stars (more 4 than 3).

I decided to read this book again since I couldn’t remember what I liked in it.

The story is interesting and Wigg’s writing is compelling. Her portrait of what people might have felt while escaping the fire felt so real and desperate. People fleeing their houses, their anguish about leaving everything the possessed behind to save themselves – it was really well done.

I also think that the pace of the story was well executed, until the last part. The impression
Sara F.
Feb 09, 2017 Sara F. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quando un libro ti fa provare tutte le emozioni e i sentimenti dei protagonisti e ti lascia una sensazione di vuoto, ha fatto il suo dovere. Ti ha fatto sognare e sperare fino alla fine.
Non credevo di andare incontro a una storia così complessa e colma di dolore, ma allo stesso tempo di speranza e amore. È stato un viaggio devastante, ma bellissimo. Ho adorato Deborah e Tom, perché la loro non è una stupida storia d'amore. È una storia che nasce pian piano, permettendo ai protagonisti di conosc
I didn't know how many stars to give this book. it was the first Suans Wiggs book that I didn't absolutely love. I actually don't know what I feel about it. the first half I read super quick and was bored by most of it. the last bit I liked better, more Susan 's style. I found the love story sudden or rushed. like one day suddenly they love eachother. I also hated The main charactor, but maybe it's cuz I just wanna slap girls like that n tell them to grow up and get a life even though it had to ...more
Nov 26, 2013 R.G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this book I thought perhaps some of the things in it were a bit farfetched… I mean it is back in the day but not that far back… but the more I learn about this period of time the more realistic this book actually seems… although the love angle is a whole other thing… but who doesn’t love a good love story about forbidden romance… I love how both Tom and Deborah have secrets that the reader has to slowly pull apart to discover what is truly motivating both of them and what has d ...more
Buying this book was an easy sell. Finishing it is not.
I enjoy historical fiction set in the United States, and the backdrop for this one is fascinating. Set during the great fire in Chicago (and Peshtigo, WI, which gets a mention), there’s a lot of potential. Class clashes, a city in chaos. But I just can’t do it.

Our heroine, Deborah Sinclair, is a poor little rich girl. Her mother died when she was young, and her father, albeit a robber baron, is devoted to her and has high hopes for marryi
Heidi Hart
I picked this up on sale a month or so ago because of the series premise: a quartet of finishing school girls get caught up in the swarm of humanity fleeing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This first book in the series focuses on Deborah, the only daughter of one of the city's most wealthy men. During the fire, she is kidnapped and held for ransom by Tom Silver, a fisherman from Isle Royale who blames Deborah's father for the death of a loved one killed in an explosion at a mine her father owns. ...more
Beth Pearson
May 30, 2013 Beth Pearson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance-had-sex
I thought this was my first Susan Wiggs novel, but later discovered I had read another one. Anyways, things I liked about this romance novel--The hero and heroine were very imperfect people. He is so consumed with revenge that he sets out to commit murder. She is such window dressing that she doesn't really even have her own personality. Unlike most books I read, she isn't already fiesty and brave. I like that there is a lot of growth and changes in each character. I also liked that while the ma ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Marilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
October 8, 1871 was a day to be remembered by the world. Deborah and her father had a bit of a falling out. As the Chicago fire got too close to home they set out to run, but were intercepted by a madman whose intent was to kill her father. Unable to kill Arthur Sinclaire, Tom Silvers snatched Deborah and took her as hostage to remote Isle Royale in the north of Lake Superior. As the big freeze came upon them, all in the small community embarked on boats to return to the mainland for the winter. ...more
I Love, Love, Love, the Susan Wiggs' books that I have read so far. I have focused on the Historical and love how it is woven into the stories. Her characters are so complex you really feel you know them by the end. But it takes most of the novel to really learn about them.

This has action and even though it takes place during the Chicago fire, it has only a small portion that is about that event.

It has the unlikely characters coming together in a very unlikely way that she likes to write about.
May 20, 2013 rockycloe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read lots of romance novels this year but this one..... This is one I will never ever forget. Deborah is a pampered and sheltered heiress who, the night of the Chicago great fire, finds herself thrown into an inferno in more way than once. During the course of the book she is abandoned by all the men who should have protected her, but during this she finds something more, something she never thought she had:strenght, passion for life, courage, a capacity to love without hesitation, and ev ...more
I read this series long time ago and it started me following Wiggs. I must have loved it then, but compared with the emotional depth of the contemporaries she is now putting out this pales.
Wealthy socialite is in Chicago to marry the man who will bring her dad, who amassed his fortune by working for it, the respect the bluebloods don't give him.
Even as they enter town, it is burning in the Great Fire.
Also visiting is Tom Silver, set on revenge for deadly mining accident caused by negligence o
LPL Staff Reviews
Sep 06, 2016 LPL Staff Reviews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mature readers
From an event with her rake-fiancée, our heroine suffers with PTSD-like issues while enduring the Chicago Fire and a year-long kidnapping. This novel was well written and educational.

Richard N
Mahon Branch
Apr 27, 2008 July rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Deborah Sinclair finds herself kidnapped by a brute of a man who tried to kill her father. Tom Silver set's off to take revenge on Arthur Sinclair for the deaths of miners in the community of Isle Royale. When he gets to Chicago and confronts Arthur Sinclair there is a raging fire that is engulfing the city. His beautiful daughter Deborah gets in the way of his plans so he just takes her with him back to Isle Royale as a Hostage. But Arthur Sinclair has no heart or so it seems. This book is the ...more
Jul 03, 2016 Nessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I wanted to give this a 4 stars but towards the end, the revelation of the heroine's circumstance made me feel a bit annoyed.

While I didn't have qualms about the hero, but I hated how STUPID AND NAIVE the heroine turned out at the end. We were misled that she is pure virginal but she was raped by her fiance?! It was so fucking random I just dropped a star then. Who the fucks let her fiance rapes her and then take the blame?

How can anyone be that dumb?! Well yea...the pacing of their
Jun 07, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had I rated this toward the middle of the book I would have given it only two stars. I felt that the wording was a bit awkward at times, and that occasionally the author seemed to have tried to describe a scene but come up short. However, she redeemed herself with spurts of good adventure and the story of Deborah Sinclair's inward growth. As I neared the end of the story I couldn't pull myself away. That said, the writing could have been better, and I'm undecided as to whether I'm interested in ...more
Aug 22, 2010 Pamela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a romance with the usual hero and the beautiful heiress, but the setting of the Chicago fire in 1871 that begins the novel makes it a little different. There is also a lot about the fishing families on the islands in Lake Superior. So, the time period and the places make the novel more than a typical romance. This is an easy, fast read, perfect for the beach. Because the author does a good job with historical aspect, the romance part only enters late in the novel. The author has two oth ...more
The character development was much more advanced than what I was expecting from a romance novel. I liked the story and can not wait to read the rest of the series. Seeing so many lives torn apart by a disaster brings the more recent disasters to my mind.

I love that Deborah is not the simpering, pampered rich girl that you expect but has a huge heart that she has always hidden. I enjoy strong women and that Deborah learns to stand up for herself and survives when no one expects her to really end
I hadn't read much by this author, but decided to mooch a few more anyway.
I started reading this one out loud to my husband while driving back from France to Switzerland. Reading it out loud, the beginning was a bit irritating in the way Wiggs skirts around what becomes increasingly obvious but is only confirmed towards the end of the book. I found the themes unusual and interesting, and enjoyed it a lot more after the first hundred pages once we'd arrived and I was reading it to myself! The end
Although I'm a huge fan of Susan Wiggs' contemporary novels, I don't believe I had read any of her historicals. Because this is a different genre and because it was written many years (and many books) ago, I wasn't too surprised that the writing lacked crispness in some places. Once I got caught up into the story, though, I couldn't put it down. I really liked the way Deborah's character blossomed as the story progressed, and Wiggs did a great job of weaving the great Chicago Fire into the tale.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Mar 05, 2015 10:13AM  
  • The Passions of Emma
  • A Candle in the Dark
  • Nobody's Darling
  • Desired (The Scandalous Women of the Ton, #5)
  • Merely Married
  • The Duke's Captive (Winter Garden #4)
  • The Dangerous Gentleman (Rogues of Regent Street, #1)
  • Sins of Summer (Wyoming Frontier, #3)
  • A Hearing Heart
  • Bitterleaf
  • Lions and Lace (Van Alen Sisters #1)
  • The Outlaw Hearts
  • The Sinner (Seducers #4)
  • Deadly Desire (Francesca Cahill Deadly, #4)
  • Just Wicked Enough (Rogues and Roses, #2)
  • Gabriel's Bride
  • Pieces of Sky (Blood Rose, #1)
  • The Virgin's Secret (Lost City, #2)
Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world's top authors to her seaside community. (See ...more
More about Susan Wiggs...

Other Books in the Series

Great Chicago Fire Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Mistress (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy, #2)
  • The Firebrand (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #3)

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“If I'm all alone, then the standard for sanity is up to me entirely.” 0 likes
“Even the most egregious captive state, bound and gagged on her damp bunk, felt eerily familiar to her. With nothing to do but lie there and think of things, she reflected that captivity took many different forms. A woman under the domination of her father or husband was as much a prisoner as a hostage on a boat. She had merely traded one form of servitude for another.” 0 likes
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