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

Corey Quick Notes

It took 22 books to get to a main character of non-European descent. The one and only African-American Sunfire girl is Corey by Jane Claypool Miner.

NOTE: All three main characters are African-American, and only Ned gets a full physical description. Other than the sharp cheekbones Corey inherited from her Native-American grandfather and Penn’s height, none of their specific physical characteristics are described.

Corey Front Cover (Credit: Joel Iskowitz)

Corey Front Cover (Credit: Joel Iskowitz)

Front Cover Blurb: Freedom gave her the right to live, the chance to love.

Back Cover Blurb: She escaped from the South to the North, where a boy captured her heart.

Main Character: Corey, a 15-year-old house slave from South Carolina. She leaves the only home she’s ever known after Union troops burn the house down and her owner dies from a heart attack. With great fortitude, Corey makes her way north to Philadelphia. Eventually she takes the last name “Marshallhouse” to reflect her past while avoiding actually taking the name of her owner. Unlike most slaves, Corey was taught to read and write. She doesn’t know when her birthday is, but assumes she turns 16 before the end of teh book.

Suitor #1: Ned, another slave from Marshall House. He is 17 with warm brown eyes and short, curly black hair; he is tall and broad-shouldered. He’s a pretty simple guy—all he really wants is to marry Corey, and he nags her about constantly. Corey worries about Ned’s common sense and ability to handle money, despite his stubborn insistence that he should carry the money because he “is the man.” He heads north with Corey, helping her search for her mother, but they become separated during a battle and Ned is conscripted (or maybe not so much forced) into the Union Army.

Suitor #2: Penn Wilson, an educated writer, abolitionist, and teacher from Philadelphia who has never been enslaved. He has studied in London and, even though he is working to end slavery, sometimes has trouble differentiating between the idealism of freedom and the reality. Since Corey has experienced first-hand the reality and hardship of suddenly being free, she and Penn often clash, especially when it comes to Corey’s mother.

Setting: November 1864 through April 1865, South Carolina, then the “Jubilee Trail” north to Philadelphia. The book begins during Sherman’s march and ends a couple days after the characters learn of Lincoln’s assassination.

On the Cover: Middle, Corey. I wonder if her hair should be that short, but then, she did dress a boy while traveling. On the left is Ned in his Union Army uniform. On the right is Penn dressed like a gentleman, carrying books and smiling like he knows he’s awesome. Bottom right: Ned and Corey smooching, probably as Ned leaves for the West. It’s not the white dress and pink bonnet Corey buys for her visit with Ned. Ned also usually kisses Corey respectfully on the cheek, not the lips.

Corey Back Cover

Corey Back Cover

There is a LOT of historical information in this book (which incidentally clocks in as the shortest of the Sunfires). First we meet Harriet Tubman, known as “Moses” for leading people to freedom using the Underground Railroad. (In fact, it seems as if Corey’s journey north may be loosely based on hers.) Corey and Penn go see Frederick Douglass speak. Corey goes to Washington DC to bring the plight of unpaid Black Union soldiers to the attention of Abraham Lincoln and actually speaks to the president.

In fact, there are so many serious historical events that the romance is all but lost in the story. I didn’t feel like I really saw the couple fall in love. But that hardly seems to matter when you think of the difficult lives the characters probably led after the book’s close. Hopefully Corey was successful as a teacher and didn’t become the victim of violence in the Reconstruction-era South.

UP NEXT: I’ll start reviewing a new series…and we’ll party like it’s 1999! Then I’ll move on to Heather, and we’ll enjoy Frollo’s triumphant return.

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