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

Nicole Quick Notes

A teenage girl tilts her head and gazes from beneath her wide-brimmed hat up at the Titanic, the huge ship that will take her home to America. Although she is a privileged first-class passenger, she has a secret: her widowed mother has squandered her father’s entire fortune. The girl must marry money or she and her mother will lose everything. But she is about to meet the love of her life, who is not a rich, titled gentleman but a penniless steerage passenger whose values will inspire her to change her own outlook on life. And she can’t even imagine the disaster to come and how it will test her and her new love.

Sounds familiar, right? But believe it or not, I am not describing the plot of a blockbuster, award-winning movie…it’s Sunfire #18, Nicole, by Candice F. Ransom.

Nicole Front Cover (Credit: Joel Iskowitz)

Front Cover Blurb: The tragic sinking of the Titanic, and a new love, will change her life forever.

Back Cover Blurb: Can the love in her heart give her the courage to face incredible danger?

Main Character: Nicole Sanders, 16; light brown hair, brown eyes. Her flighty mother, Evangaline, whisked Nicole away to Europe when Nicole’s father, Hudson, died suddenly. She kept her there for two years, giddily running through Hudson’s money while Nicole did her best to manage the finances, buy travel tickets, and fend off boring European boys. Now penniless, the Sanders women have to return to New York…with Evangeline posing as “Vange,” Nicole’s older sister, in order to snag a rich husband. At least that’s the plan until Nicole meets…

Suitor #1: Lord Price Armsley, the future Earl of Dunsmoor; sandy light brown hair, blue eyes. Price is traveling alone because he’s actually running away from his overbearing father. Well, running away first-class with a motor car and plenty of tuxedos, but no valet. He meets Nicole on deck as the ship is leaving port and instantly takes a shine to her. Evangeline is furious that Nicole is ditching her to spend so much time with some boy, until she finds out the boy is a lord. Then the plan changes: let Nicole marry the wealthy husband instead. The fly in THAT ointment is: Nicole is already head-over-heels in love at first sight with…

Suitor #2: Karl Terez, a Hungarian immigrant; curly black hair, brown eyes. He and Nicole make eye contact as he is boarding the ship with his mother and two sisters. It’s obvious he won’t be a first-class passenger, so Nicole has to hunt for him for a bit until they officially meet. They sneak around meeting in laundry rooms (with Price’s help, after Nicole tells him Evangeline is trying to land him as a son-in-law for his money). Strangely enough, Vange is not the only family member less than thrilled about this romance. Karl’s miserable sister, Francesca, hates Nicole because she’s rich (or at least a first-class passenger) and Francesca was forced to leave her own love behind, so no one else should be happy anyway. Maybe Francesca is part Vogon.

Setting: This Sunfire is of the shortest duration, just five days: April 10th through the 15th, 1912, on the Titanic’s one-and-only voyage. Makes it kind of difficult to create a realistic love-of-your-life story. (Or is it?)

On the Cover: Middle, Nicole in one of her fancy dresses. I don’t think one of this color is mentioned, and her gowns are usually described as having long sleeves, but I still think it’s appropriate and I like the feather accessory. Her hair is probably not era-appropriate, but I always thought Nicole was one of the prettiest Sunfire girls. To the right is Price, looking dashing, and again accessory-complete with gloves, top hat, and walking stick. To the left is Karl, probably as he looked boarding the ship with his knapsack. Lower right is Price and Nicole on the deck, which gives us a glimpse of the romantic atmosphere of the ship pre-accident. Lower left is the Titanic going down. (I don’t think smoke should be coming out of the smokestacks as it’s sinking, but small point.) I always loved this cover with its dark berry title and mood-setting colors.

Nicole Back Cover

I still think the amount of detail Ransom packs into the short format is miraculous; although now the images of the ship in my mind as I read have been replaced by the movie scenery. I admit that as an adult, I find the idea of Nicole and Karl falling in love at first sight completely nuts, and that they developed their relationship to “true love” level in five short days incredible. And then I think about the movie, and how I believe in Rose and Jack’s love, cultivated in about the same amount of time…maybe even less, since Rose didn’t even see Jack for the first time until the second day at sea.

In any case, Ransom does a good job of conveying both the rising level of panic as well as the nonchalance of the people who insist there’s no danger. Even once Nicole is settled in the lifeboat, there’s still some possibility of her freezing to death before they are rescued. (This is a Sunfire book, so of course she’ll be rescued and at least one swain will survive.)

It’s incredible to believe that the final location of the Titanic had only been known for about a year when Nicole was published. These days, most of us have seen real images of the ship decaying at the bottom of the ocean.

Note: This was the last Sunfire book by Candice F. Ransom, and the loss was keenly felt by all Sunfire fans.

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