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

Dawn of Love Book 1: Reckless Heart

About a year after the Sunfire Romances started being released, Pocket Books/Archway came out with their version of the teen historical romance: the Dawn of Love series. There were only six of these books, and they were only about 200 pages each, but I enjoyed them. Their tagline is, “Is sixteen too young…” and this leads into the title. It changes a bit for each book. The heroines were much less goody-goody than the Sunfire heroines, and these books were slightly, SLIGHTLY, less chaste than the Sunfires. Did I say slightly? Okay, one character does a semi-striptease for charity, and there are some mentions of “stopping before we go too far,” but that’s about it. All but one had a Sunfire counterpart, but the stories and characters are still pretty different and enjoyable. There is no set number of suitors, and occasionally the point of view switches to other characters. (I can only remember this happening once in a Sunfire, in Jennie.)Like Sunfires, the Dawn of Love books are out of print.

Book #1 is Reckless Heart by Dee Austin, copyright 1985.

Reckless Heart Front Cover (Credit: Joe Cellini)

Front Cover Blurb: Is sixteen too young to have a…Reckless Heart

On the Cover: Azalee La Fontaine, Lt. Johnny Trent

Setting: Battle of New Orleans, 1814-1815

Similar Sunfire Book: Danielle

Main Character: Azalee La Fontaine (called “Azie” for short); 16 years old, black hair, green eyes. Azie is the spoiled daughter of a wealthy widowed shipowner, and she is constantly in trouble. Even when she tries to behave, she ends up doing the wrong thing. The way Azalee is written, though, is pretty charming. She’s so much more fun than a perfect Schurfranz heroine. She still manages to become “the heroine of New Orleans,” BUT she ruins her reputation in doing so.

Suitor #1: Alain Duval, 19; dark brown hair, dark brown eyes. He was Azie’s childhood friend and can’t wait to marry her. He is a lieutenant in the New Orleans Regiment.

Suitor #2: Johnny Trent, 20; streaky brown hair, topaz-brown eyes, from Tennessee. A lieutenant in the United States Army. He meets Azalee at a ball where he sweeps her off the staircase and into a waltz. (She’s supposed to be upstairs in the nursery, as 16 is too young to dance. Except, wait, isn’t that Danielle Verlaine dancing with General Jackson downstairs? Is she even 16 yet?)

And then there’s…wait for it…

Suitor #3: Jean Lafitte. WHAAA??? The real-life pirate Jean Lafitte? The very one whose nephew is running around Grand Terre with Danielle? Yup, that one. He thinks marrying a respectable (if wild and unpredictable) New Orleans girl will make him respectable, too. I’m sorry, but this crosses the line. It’s bad enough when fictional heroines figure importantly into real events, but to have a heroine actually courted by a real person? Please. We know this relationship is going nowhere. But for the sake of argument, Jean is described as being as old as Azie’s father, and having dark brown hair with one white streak and steel-gray eyes.

Back Cover Blurb: It’s Hard To Be A Perfect Lady…

Reckless Heart Back Cover

Yes, summary writer, I’m sure the battle for Azie’s heart was MUCH bigger than the battle of New Orleans.

How does it stack up against its Sunfire counterpart? Well, the story is weak, but it is packed full of action and the characterizations are better. The story is ludicrous, yet the writing style seems more believable. Does that make any sense? If it weren’t for Jean Lafitte and all the descriptions of Azie “weeping,” you’d be able to get lost in this short book. However, way too much emphasis is placed on Azie’s transformation from spoiled, headstrong child into strong, thoughtful woman, which happens overnight. I think Sunfire fans would probably enjoy checking it out.

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