Sunfire Romance Novels
In the 80s, the world was lit by Sunfire!

Caroline Quick Notes

Sunfire #7 is Caroline by Willo Davis Roberts. Caroline has the distinction of being the only Sunfire book in which the heroine has only one suitor.

Caroline Front Cover (credit: Joel Iskowitz)

Front Cover Blurb: Her disguise would keep her safe, but not from love.

Back cover blurb: If only men and boys were going to California, then Caroline would become–a boy.

(Note: this is one of the only blurbs that mentions the heroine’s name instead of “she.”)

Main character: Caroline Hoxie; silvery blond hair that curls when it’s short and gray-green eyes; not quite 16. She cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and disguises herself as a boy named Caro (and people buy this???) to follow her brothers from Michigan to California.

Suitor: Dan Riddle, auburn hair, blue eyes; 20 years old. He agrees to take “Caro” along in his wagon to California, thinking she’s a 13-year-old boy.

Instead of the typical Suitor #2, we have Caroline’s brothers: Frank, 19, has dark brown hair and brown eyes, while Billy, 17, has the same blond hair as Caroline, but blue eyes. They leave for California slightly ahead of Caro. She plans to meet up with them in Independence, Missouri, but misses them and ends up chasing them to and through California.

Random suitor: It is mentioned at the beginning of the book that Caroline could settle down with John Wilkins, who has kissed her, but she’s just not that into him.

Setting: A wagon train to the California gold fields, 1852.

On the cover: middle, Caroline (I’m thinking when she re-girls at the end of the book, because her hair isn’t down to her waist as it is on the back cover before she cuts it, and that dress is way too fancy for Michigan); right, Dan, looking like a serious Maverick-type gambler/dandy; left, Frank and Billy. There is no “couple” image on the front cover, although Caro and Dan MIGHT be on the spine, panning for gold. Hard to tell as my book’s spine is pretty cracked. Another stunning green cover; dark green this time. (Even though in Caro’s shopping spree at the end we never hear that she bought a medieval green gown. Whatever, it’s gorgeous.)

James Garner took Dan clothes shopping as soon as he'd cashed his first nugget.

The back cover shows Caro cutting off her hair, Mulan stye. Unfortunately this scene in the book hardly deserves cover treatment as it’s approximately 1/2 of a sentence.

Caroline Back Cover

I remember liking but not loving Caroline. It was slightly out of the box, differing from the set pattern. It makes perfect sense that Caro only has one suitor since she spends more than 3/4 of the book pretending to be a boy. Therefore, the real tension of the book comes not from “which one will she choose” but “when will Dan find out she’s a girl, and how will he react when he does?” Of course, this is Sunfire, so you assume it will have a happy ending.

There’s a long history of stories, especially romances, with the heroine cross-dressing as a boy, so it’s no surprise that one of the Sunfire entries went this route too.


One Response to “Caroline Quick Notes”

  1. ‘Caroline’ was one of my favorites. Don’t know why. I think I just like stories held in wagons, and I especially liked Dan. But I always thought it was a little creepy to have her brothers on the front cover where a suitor ought to have been…

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