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

Megan Quick Notes

Sunfire #16 was the first short-format Sunfire in the series. I still remember stumbling upon it for the first time at the library. I hadn’t been looking for any more Sunfires, and yet, here was a totally unfamiliar one! I remember picking it up and thinking, “But where’s the rest of it?”

Unfortunately, Megan, by Vivan Schurfranz, is also my least favorite book in the series. In fact, this book may have single-handedly inspired my career choice. More on that later.

Megan Front Cover (Credit: Joel Iskowitz)

Front Cover Blurb: In the frozen loneliness of Alaska, a burning love is born.

Back Cover Blurb: One man will win her; one man will become her enemy.

Main Character: Megan O’ Brien, black hair, blue eyes. She celebrates her 16th birthday about 1/3 into the book. Her family has moved to Alaska as the territory is transferred from Russia to the U.S.; her father has a government job regulating the fur trade. Being a Schurfranz heroine, Megan is of course perfectly lovely, important, smart, and talented; she makes friends out of enemies, plays matchmaker for people twice her age, trains her Husky puppy to behave perfectly with no effort whatsoever, thwarts evildoers, walks on water, and raises the dead. Yawn.

Suitor #1: Adam Logan, age 19; curly black hair, brown eyes. He is the son of the local storekeeper, who tangles with Megan’s father over fur trading laws. Adam has severe problems with other kids playing with his toys.

Suitor #2: Ivan Zolotov: blonde, green eyes, 18. The son of a Russian fisherman who wants to build a cannery until he’s cheated by…whoops…Adam’s father. He reiterates several times that Megan will make her own choices, so you know who will win this battle.

Setting: Alaska, 1867.

Front Cover: Middle, Megan wearing her fur parka. I think Megan’s illustration suffers from the same problem as Jacquelyn’s; her eyes are strangely positioned so they’re pretty vacant. Also her face has a weird smooshy look. On the right: Adam, showing off his chest hair. On the left, Ivan, complete with fishing net. Bottom left: Megan and Adam, maybe at the dance, but I love how Adam can’t be bothered to dress up! Bottom right: a dog sled team. I suspect that’s Adam again, since he was described as wearing the white jacket and that figure seems to have dark hair.

Back Cover: With the change to the shorter-format books, the back cover illustration went bye-bye. The blurb and summary remain, but the only illustration is an oval showing a closeup of the heroine from the front cover. Bummer.

Megan Back Cover

You may ask, “Why do you dislike this book so much?” Well, people, all the worst characteristics of Schurfranz are packed tightly into one little 220-page book. We have the perfect heroine, if you count leading two boys on at the same time “perfect.” We have possessive jerk boyfriend and gentle understanding boyfriend. We have a native who hates the heroine, yet is somehow won over quickly by the gift of a necklace. We have guys calling the heroine “little one” and things like “my sweet little tutor” and “my staunch little Megan.” Really? REALLY? I am not a fan of “my little….anything,” but I think “my little staunch Megan” might be the ultimate.

Then, because this is a Schurfranz book, we have a Frollo alert.

Dude, I totally feel your pain.

In this case, it’s actually a pair of Frollos; two fur trappers who don’t want Megan’s father to curtail their trade. You know they’re mean because when they first meet Megan, they…make fun of her clothes.

No, I am so not kidding.

Then they move on to other forms of bullying, such as pushing her in the mud and taking her father’s report from her (and, by the way, if you had a SUPER-important yet wildly unpopular report due on the next boat to the mainland, would you entrust it to your teenage daughter?) and then dog-napping and, finally, kidnapping.

“So,” you may continue to ask, “Where does your career enter into it? Are you a dog sled trainer?” Fair question, but no. I’m an editor, and have been for many a year, and I think it was this book’s overwhelming use of EXCLAMATION POINTS that drove me to it. Oh, the exclamation points in this book. Here’s the thing about exclamation points: They give something special emphasis. And if EVERYTHING is emphasized…then NOTHING is.

Syndrome had it right, except with exclamation points instead of super powers.

There are some good qualities in this book. The historical era is one that isn’t often covered, so I find that interesting. Various aspects of stereotypes and racism are addressed. I will also give Megan this: she knows she’s too young to be getting married, and she doesn’t want someone who will dictate what she does or calls her “his.” Also, in a rare instance, the heroine stays friends with the dumped boyfriend. Also for the first time, I get the impression that the relationship between the heroine and her chosen man is only at the “steady dating” stage by the end of the book, instead of “Obviously we’re getting hitched ASAP.”

But overall, I think this book is a real dog. Which reminds me of possibly my favorite line of all time in all of literature, which Megan says to Adam as they’re breaking up: “I still expect you to be my trainer for the Dog Derby.” Yes, Megan, don’t worry. Adam will train you along with the rest of the dogs.

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