A Different Kind of Fire
Ruby Schmidt has the talent, the drive, even the guts to enroll in art school, leaving behind her childhood home and the beau she always expected to marry. Her life at the Academy seems heavenly at first, but she soon learns that societal norms in the East are as restrictive as those back home in West Texas. Rebelling against the insipid imagery women are expected to produce, Ruby embraces bohemian life. Her burgeoning sexuality drives her into a life-long love affair with another woman and into the arms of an Italian baron. With the Panic of 1893, the nation spirals into a depression, and Ruby’s career takes a similar downward trajectory. After thinking she could have it all, Ruby, now pregnant and broke, returns to Texas rather than join the queues at the neighborhood soup kitchen.Set against the Gilded Age of America, a time when suffragettes fight for reproductive rights and the right to vote, A Different Kind of Fire depicts one woman’s battle to balance husband, family, career, and ambition. Torn between her childhood sweetheart, her forbidden passion for another woman, the nobleman she had to marry, and becoming a renowned painter, Ruby's choices mold her in ways she could never have foreseen.Includes book club questions.

A Different Kind of Fire Details

TitleA Different Kind of Fire
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 1st, 2018
PublisherWaldorf Publishing
ISBN-139781641368650
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, LGBT

A Different Kind of Fire Review

  • Emily Mims
    January 1, 1970
    A sweeping saga of a woman torn between two worldsSet in turn of the century America, ‘A Different Kind of Fire’ is the story of a woman torn between the land and the man that she loves with all her heart, and the art and the woman that give her life meaning and make her whole. Talented and passionate, Ruby Schmidt leaves west Texas and rancher Bismarck Behrens for art school in Philadelphia. There she is challenged both as an artist and a woman, on one hand longing to break free of the strictur A sweeping saga of a woman torn between two worldsSet in turn of the century America, ‘A Different Kind of Fire’ is the story of a woman torn between the land and the man that she loves with all her heart, and the art and the woman that give her life meaning and make her whole. Talented and passionate, Ruby Schmidt leaves west Texas and rancher Bismarck Behrens for art school in Philadelphia. There she is challenged both as an artist and a woman, on one hand longing to break free of the strictures imposed on her by society yet still bound by her old life and the love she found there. Ms. Schafer does a marvelous job of bringing her characters to life. I felt Ruby’s deep desire to express herself creatively, her love for Bismarck, her wonder at the alternative possibilities offered to her in Philadelphia, her joy and her pain as she embarks on a different kind of romance with fellow artist Willow Wicke, her strength as she struggles to carve out a life of meaning in a society that was and yet in some ways wasn’t different from today. Ms. Schafer also brings both Bismarck and Willow to life as well, making me sympathize with them even when I didn’t always like them too much. ‘A Different Kind of Fire’ is a thought-provoking story of a woman seeking fulfillment, a ‘must read’ for anyone torn between the possibilities and seeking everything life has to offer them.
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  • Angela Pneuman
    January 1, 1970
    In Ruby Schmidt, Suanne Schafer has created a remarkable heroine, one who faces the challenges of time and convention with a vivid spirit and a sense of emotional adventure. It's a pleasure to follow her as she pursues her art, explores her loves and determines to live life on no terms but her own.
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  • Michael Hardesty
    January 1, 1970
    The protagonist, Ruby Schmidt, moves with ease between rural Texas and urban Pennsylvania, from feeding chickens to studying fine art. Even more delicate, however, is the conflict between traditional family life and bisexual romance. Ms. Schafer's story and character development make that reconciliation seem effortless.
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  • Gail Hart
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire tells the story of a remarkable woman in turn of the twentieth century America. Over the course of nearly forty years Ruby becomes a painter, a baroness, and a west Texas ranch wife, and she experiences two great loves. Debut author Schafer includes a remarkable amount of historical detail and covers important themes but avoids becoming long-winded or pretentious.
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  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer is the story of Ruby Schmidt a young woman in West Texas near the turn of the twentieth century. I found this book in the Historical Fiction category and being a resident of Texas I thought I would give it a try. However, even before getting to the story I saw that the author is a member of the San Antonio Romance Authors and The Romance Writers of America. The Romance market is vast; it's just that I am not part of it. Happily, as it turns out, this is A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer is the story of Ruby Schmidt a young woman in West Texas near the turn of the twentieth century. I found this book in the Historical Fiction category and being a resident of Texas I thought I would give it a try. However, even before getting to the story I saw that the author is a member of the San Antonio Romance Authors and The Romance Writers of America. The Romance market is vast; it's just that I am not part of it. Happily, as it turns out, this is not a romance novel. Shortly into the book, I found the lead character Ruby Schmidt very likable. The strict West Texas environment both social and religious would be a tough place for a young female artist to get much notice and if she did, she would be reined in. Ruby develops into a strong lead female character who bends instead of breaks and uses her smarts to convince her parents to let her go to art school in Philidelphia. What follows is a series of challenges to the character. Life in the big city is fast and attractive for an eligible young woman. Relationships develop unexpectedly. She left her presumed husband to be in Texas and finds an exciting world where reproductive health leaves many options open. There is also the challenge between family and developing a career. Furthermore, establishing a career as a woman in a man's world is no easy task.What I found most interesting in the novel is its relation to early twentieth-century British Literature. There was the division between city and country, although not as drastic as West Texas and Philidelphia. The early feminist writers included many of the same themes concerning the woman's place and status to including voting and property rights (Vita Sackville-West lost Knole because of her sex). Relationships in British fiction are represented in books such as The Well of Loneliness. Careers for creative women appear in Virginia Woolf's A Room of Her Own and admittedly require some money (Ruby uses her grandmother's legacy). Not that the British women were unique in there struggle. Schafer demonstrates the same message in an American setting using historical events, legislation, and figures of the time. A well-written and thought out novel about America's lesser-known feminist beginnings.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire is a story of woman driven by her talent and her passions. Ruby does her best not to conform to the expectations of her time, class and sex. The title of the book symbolizes these contrasts from Ruby's point of view, the point of view of a rancher's daughter in Truly, Texas in the late 19th century. Her story spans from the Texas flatlands to the grimy city of Philadelphia where Ruby studies fine arts and perfects her style. The reader shares the disappointment at the pr A Different Kind of Fire is a story of woman driven by her talent and her passions. Ruby does her best not to conform to the expectations of her time, class and sex. The title of the book symbolizes these contrasts from Ruby's point of view, the point of view of a rancher's daughter in Truly, Texas in the late 19th century. Her story spans from the Texas flatlands to the grimy city of Philadelphia where Ruby studies fine arts and perfects her style. The reader shares the disappointment at the prejudices of a fine artist being confined to art appropriate to her sex and the triumph as she defies those standards. As well as in her professional life, her private life is subjected to criticism for bucking convention. When she leaves her fiance in Texas, she has a tumultuous affair with a fellow female student, an affair which haunts and follows her the rest of her life. Living a Bohemian student life gets Ruby into trouble when she gets pregnant with fellow student, d'Este's child. She marries and soon realizes her mistake as her new husband becomes violent with drink and leaves her for months on end to cope alone. Ruby makes a decision to leave and return to small town Texas where she is sharply criticized. It is a story of love and redemption. A Different Kind of Fire is one of those books you won't want to end!
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  • Janalyn Knight
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book-without stop-until I finished. The characters were so well developed I felt I knew them personally. As an art major in college I was impressed at the depth and accuracy of artistic detail throughout the book. But more than that, the author wrote from the perspective of an artist's soul. As a romance enthusiast I was caught by the loves and losses of Ruby's life and the bittersweet happily-ever-after ending. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.
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  • Elena Mikalsen
    January 1, 1970
    Great historical fiction. Quite unique as the main character is a bisexual artist and you don't usually read this kind of a historical novel. I really loved the author's voice. Ruby drew me in right away and I followed her eagerly on her journey to becoming an artist. The story starts in rural Texas and proceeds to an art school in Philadelphia. Lovely characters who came very much alive to me. I'd read this author again for sure.
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire is the story of Ruby Schmidt, a young woman who dreams of becoming an artist during the 19th century. The reader follows Ruby as she travels to Philadelphia where she attends art school, then back to Texas. Over a period of several decades, we experience Ruby’s sometimes sweet, sometimes heartbreaking journey. A Different Kind of Fire is a story of challenges, love, family, happiness, and loss. The secondary characters are well drawn. I must admit that Bismarck’s quiet s A Different Kind of Fire is the story of Ruby Schmidt, a young woman who dreams of becoming an artist during the 19th century. The reader follows Ruby as she travels to Philadelphia where she attends art school, then back to Texas. Over a period of several decades, we experience Ruby’s sometimes sweet, sometimes heartbreaking journey. A Different Kind of Fire is a story of challenges, love, family, happiness, and loss. The secondary characters are well drawn. I must admit that Bismarck’s quiet strength and his total love for Ruby was heartbreaking at times. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Neg Dardashti
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire is a unique historical romance in which the main character, Ruby, is a bisexual artist, creating an added layer of flare to the author's impeccable mastery of painting a picture and keeping her readers engaged. I loved how Ruby navigated with grace and strength through a time that was uncompr0mising and judgmental. Ruby came alive among the pages as I journeyed with her through love and loss, happiness and pain. I'd definitely recommend this book. A must read!
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  • IJ
    January 1, 1970
    I am a Book Blogger at For the Southwest By the Southwest Book Corner. I was given a free copy of this book for a honest and unbiased review.Ruby Schmidt certainly is a woman who has chased her demons her whole life. Her challenges were many and her rewards few. The desires of lust and recognition of talent are forces that will lead Ruby to heaven and hell many times over.This is a historical romance that takes place in Texas and Pennsylvania mostly involving 4 people. Ruby, her 2 husbands, one I am a Book Blogger at For the Southwest By the Southwest Book Corner. I was given a free copy of this book for a honest and unbiased review.Ruby Schmidt certainly is a woman who has chased her demons her whole life. Her challenges were many and her rewards few. The desires of lust and recognition of talent are forces that will lead Ruby to heaven and hell many times over.This is a historical romance that takes place in Texas and Pennsylvania mostly involving 4 people. Ruby, her 2 husbands, one she divorces, and one she buries, and Willow her lesbian lover.The sexual scenes in this book, in my opinion, makes it a R rated book, BUT, they really need to be in the book to make it realistic. I just think there should be a description in the overview of the book, so people are warned before they buy it.This story certainly makes me appreciate not having to live in the age of women being nothing more than a object to be owned by her husband and no recognition for the talents that equaled her male peers.This is a very emotional story and you will find yourself being caught up in all of Ruby's sorrows, tribulations and triumphs.
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  • Orna
    January 1, 1970
    Rubby is the most fun loving, hardworking, open-minded 19th Century Wonder Woman. She is A Different Kind of Fire’s heroine, decorating this terrific novel with her unwavering spirit. As she leaves her beloved home in Texas, her family and fiancé, as well as the vastness of desert land that she loves, and sets off to tarnished, industrial Philadelphia to pursue her dream, she becomes, to this reader, a woman-to-look-up-to in the best sense of this phrase.“At least Texas has clean dirt. Philadelp Rubby is the most fun loving, hardworking, open-minded 19th Century Wonder Woman. She is A Different Kind of Fire’s heroine, decorating this terrific novel with her unwavering spirit. As she leaves her beloved home in Texas, her family and fiancé, as well as the vastness of desert land that she loves, and sets off to tarnished, industrial Philadelphia to pursue her dream, she becomes, to this reader, a woman-to-look-up-to in the best sense of this phrase.“At least Texas has clean dirt. Philadelphia is filthy. Stinks worse than a pigsty.” She comments. “My New Life began today! I walked into the Academy and immediately knew I had answered my Calling.” One of the most astonishing characteristics about her, that women of all ages need to embrace, is the fact that she sustains her mental strength and keeps her head up no matter who tries to put her down/ get her to march to their drum/ give up her dream. “Men have a sacred duty to protect women and children, sheltering them from the savageries of life. In turn, women nurture their husbands and offspring in a warm, loving home. Your painting does not lie within the realm of womanly art.”Following her passions, she falls in love with a fellow female classmate. And despite that flame being forced to separate from her, and being married off far away, Ruby remains alone in the Academy and fights through the loneliness, the broken heart situation she’s in, and the fact that she doesn’t really know where she belongs: she doesn’t belong in Texas nor Philadelphia. And therein lies her real superhero powers: she sticks to her guns. She doesn’t “lose it” or give up “As sisters, we shall encourage each other. Our devotion to art—and each other—will be as strong as marriage vows. Our ambition shall not lie dormant. We shall become artists.The true journey of our lives begins now. We will travel it together, sweetest sister, dearest friend.” She says to her lover, Willow. I love that Ruby has an agenda, that life ain’t about the things she was taught to believe in but rather about the things she taught herself to believe it. “Women are just as intelligent, just as capable, as men. Constant pregnancies keep us from achieving our own lofty goals. Men have no such impediment, do they?”A non-apologetic personality, a true spice in her vocab and art, an ability to overcome fear and a way of perceiving the world that makes her unique, all this makes Ruby and her journey one of the best reads I encountered in a long, long time. A real masterpiece. And let me just put here, my favorite all time quote: “And housewife! What an odious word. First, foremost, always, my waking thought, from the moment I was conceived, has been my desire to be an artist.”
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  • Randee Green
    January 1, 1970
    Ruby Schmidt – not yet ready to settle into a hardscrabble, restricted life as a wife and mother on a ranch in 1890s West Texas – leaves behind her family and fiancé to attend art school in Philadelphia. At first, life at art school in the big city seems like everything Ruby had dreamed of as she perfects her techniques, makes new friends, and expands her horizons. After an affair with another woman, a disastrous marriage to an Italian nobleman, and numerous rejections as an artist, Ruby returns Ruby Schmidt – not yet ready to settle into a hardscrabble, restricted life as a wife and mother on a ranch in 1890s West Texas – leaves behind her family and fiancé to attend art school in Philadelphia. At first, life at art school in the big city seems like everything Ruby had dreamed of as she perfects her techniques, makes new friends, and expands her horizons. After an affair with another woman, a disastrous marriage to an Italian nobleman, and numerous rejections as an artist, Ruby returns home to Texas and marries her childhood sweetheart. Through the ups and downs of Ruby’s life, her art, her husband, and her best friend sustain her. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE is a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel about a woman who tries to break the mold in the art world in the late 1880s. During the Gilded Age, there were few choices for women other than to marry and have children. Ruby breaks the mold – especially in her small town – by attending art school. At the time, women were permitted to attend art school, but they were expected to paint pretty, feminine things. Instead of depicting children and flowers, Ruby showcases scenes of the gritty, tough life that she, her family, and friends experienced in West Texas. Ruby’s realistic, “manly” art sets her apart from other female artists, but it also hinders her career as an artist because very few people are willing to take a female artist seriously. Ruby conforms so she is able to make a living on her artwork, but she also paints for herself to save her sanity and soul. Ruby and the rest of the main characters are all well-developed. Schafer did a lot of research, and it shows in the precise details about the, people, time period, and various settings. The novel covers several decades – though the majority of the novel focuses on Ruby’s years attending art school in Philadelphia and the years immediately following her return to West Texas. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE covers many themes such as relationships (good, bad, and taboo), survival, family, ambition, and self-discovery.
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  • Suanne
    January 1, 1970
    5-star review from Readers' Favorites: "In A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer, a young artist in Texas in the late 1800s is betrothed to a man she has loved since childhood. Women's rights were barely heard of, let alone spoken about, during this time. Ever the wayward child, the young woman is accepted into a prestigious art school. After her fiance promises to wait for a year, she leaves for Philadelphia, where she learns brilliant technique and endures a magnitude of criticism from te 5-star review from Readers' Favorites: "In A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer, a young artist in Texas in the late 1800s is betrothed to a man she has loved since childhood. Women's rights were barely heard of, let alone spoken about, during this time. Ever the wayward child, the young woman is accepted into a prestigious art school. After her fiance promises to wait for a year, she leaves for Philadelphia, where she learns brilliant technique and endures a magnitude of criticism from teachers. She meets another young woman who becomes much more than just a best friend. The two of them admit to more than just friendship after being informed that there are committees for women that speak about a woman's right to vote, love whomever she chooses and the right to deny her husband marital relations as well as choosing not to bear children. After not reading a romance novel in more than 18 years, I chose this book by accident and honestly could not stop reading it until the early hours of the morning. The ideals portrayed in a place and time when a woman’s right to choose was all but unthinkable, this book truly gives a brand new shine to century-old issues. Schafer paints a brilliant picture of a time that still affects women today and adds a delicious spin of love, raw and vibrant in varying settings. The story line is wild and a bit off kilter which only serves to accentuate the plot. The writing style is very unique and interesting; it is a true page turner for any romantic. I hope to read more from this author who has reintroduced me to a genre I had abandoned."
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Set in the 1890s, Ruby is torn between Bismarck, her childhood sweetheart, and her desire to create art. Biz, as Ruby fondly calls him, begrudgingly agrees to wait for her for a year while she leaves Texas and attends art school in Philadelphia. Once there, however, her views on life are tested by the bohemian culture. Even art, however, is not without its conservative members and Ruby is stunned to discover that even at an art school, men's views of women affect her and her art. Will Ruby conti Set in the 1890s, Ruby is torn between Bismarck, her childhood sweetheart, and her desire to create art. Biz, as Ruby fondly calls him, begrudgingly agrees to wait for her for a year while she leaves Texas and attends art school in Philadelphia. Once there, however, her views on life are tested by the bohemian culture. Even art, however, is not without its conservative members and Ruby is stunned to discover that even at an art school, men's views of women affect her and her art. Will Ruby continue to stifle her own creativity because men tell her it's "unladylike" to paint anything but landscapes, portraits, and flowers? Or, will she finally find her true self?I was blown away by the author's beautiful writing and the complex story line. How can this be a debut?? Ms. Schafer has written a breathtaking story infused with so many complicated emotions ... yet it all comes down to love. I cannot say enough good things about this engrossing story and would highly recommend it for fans of: sagas, historical fiction, strong female characters, and books about artists. I am left desperate to read another work of art by this extremely talented author. Can you say, book hangover?Warning: Explicit sex scenes.Thank you to the author for gifting me an advance copy. All opinions are my own.Location: Truly, Texas and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Dianne Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    Art is a calling for Ruby Schmidt—if she couldn’t paint, she might as well curl up and die. Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles standing between her and the thing that makes her whole. First, it’s 1891 and few art schools even admit women, and if they do, they expect a specific feminine style, definitely missing from Ruby’s work. Second, she lives in Truly, TX, two thousand miles from the art school of her choice in Philadelphia. A Different Kind of Fire is the story of a woman whose heart Art is a calling for Ruby Schmidt—if she couldn’t paint, she might as well curl up and die. Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles standing between her and the thing that makes her whole. First, it’s 1891 and few art schools even admit women, and if they do, they expect a specific feminine style, definitely missing from Ruby’s work. Second, she lives in Truly, TX, two thousand miles from the art school of her choice in Philadelphia. A Different Kind of Fire is the story of a woman whose heart pulls her in two very different directions. If she chooses her fiancé, Bismark, she loses her lover, Willow. If she chooses a home she loves, she loses the art she needs. Ruby avoids the decision until her choices vanish. She becomes pregnant and marries the baby’s father, a brutal and feckless man who abandons her and the child. With her options gone, Ruby returns home to Texas to salvage something of her life. The best word I can think of to describe Schafer’s writing is honest, at some times painfully so. At times I didn’t like Ruby very much but I always understood her as Schafer pulled me right into this difficult journey with her. This is a book that’s hard to put down.
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  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I waver back and forth between loving and hating the characters. I disliked Ruby for the way she treated Bismarck, and I disliked Bismark for allowing it -- over and over. I liked Ruby for her independence and for her journey of self-discovery; but I disliked her for the hurt she caused at every turn. I loved Bismarck for his patience and kindness and his strength, and yet I didn't understand him tolerating everything Ruby put him through. I loved t I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I waver back and forth between loving and hating the characters. I disliked Ruby for the way she treated Bismarck, and I disliked Bismark for allowing it -- over and over. I liked Ruby for her independence and for her journey of self-discovery; but I disliked her for the hurt she caused at every turn. I loved Bismarck for his patience and kindness and his strength, and yet I didn't understand him tolerating everything Ruby put him through. I loved that they stayed together but hated the part that Willow played in the story. I loved the author for her descriptions of the Texas landscape and her ability to convey internal struggles of the characters, but I hated the same description when it came to bedroom scenes. Some things can be left to the imagination. I hated the ending. It seemed rushed and ... I don't know... forced. It was an ok read. It's not one I'd recommend to anyone else.
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  • Kathryn Gauci
    January 1, 1970
    A woman's struggle to fulfil her desire to be an artist and balance this with the constraints of a woman's role in American society at the time. I was originally drawn to this novel because the protagonist is an artist and I was curious to know more about the art world at that time. Set in Texas and Pennsylvania during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Ruby Schmidt breaks free of the harsh life of living on the land in Texas when she is accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts i A woman's struggle to fulfil her desire to be an artist and balance this with the constraints of a woman's role in American society at the time. I was originally drawn to this novel because the protagonist is an artist and I was curious to know more about the art world at that time. Set in Texas and Pennsylvania during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Ruby Schmidt breaks free of the harsh life of living on the land in Texas when she is accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Once there, she not only discovers that she is equal to any man in her work, but she finds herself exploring the values in a changing world - should she remain faithful to the man she has promised to marry back in Texas, or should she follow her desires. Away from home, new kinds of relationships come her way which shape her strength and test her values. I particularly loved the author's descriptive way of writing. She has a profound knowledge of the art scene in America at the time and both the art and the relationships are vividly brought alive. Relationships are an underlying key in this story and the author writes these with sensitvity taking us on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride in which we find ourselves hoping Ruby will eventually find her dream. Higly recommended.
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  • Sidd Burth
    January 1, 1970
    Love has always been one of the most difficult emotions to portray in the light of art and under the shadow of internal conflict. In the strongest scenes of the story, Ruby, who embodies a 19th century innocence, breaks through the barriers of an age when the inadequacy of human civilization begins to become apparent in her life.“Many letters arrived from London and Paris. A sole dispatch from Rome was followed by an abrupt cessation. As the silence from her lovers lengthened, Ruby worried about Love has always been one of the most difficult emotions to portray in the light of art and under the shadow of internal conflict. In the strongest scenes of the story, Ruby, who embodies a 19th century innocence, breaks through the barriers of an age when the inadequacy of human civilization begins to become apparent in her life.“Many letters arrived from London and Paris. A sole dispatch from Rome was followed by an abrupt cessation. As the silence from her lovers lengthened, Ruby worried about them both.”Through her spontaneous and inflammable prose, Suanne Schafer makes Ruby’s world more intriguing by pushing her heroine into a battle of a mysterious desire and an existential confusion. She helps us grasp the intimate connection between art and love—passionate romantic instincts and “misplaced” artistic sensuality. Devouring vivid scenes of same-gender courtship can be one of the great pleasures of reading fiction. It can be a tonic to sensibilities blunted by post-modern literature and intended to arouse creative desire.As the story seesaws between Philadelphia and Truly of an America that flourished before the age of motor cars, the scenic landscape of ranches leads us to a world that at first seems to challenge the contributions of the Renaissance. Then her roommate—someone from old wealth, and Ruby’s visit to their mansion, continues to create fascinating history until we reach the point of ecstasy. America is struck by a financial depression, but not the unexplored desires of a ranch girl’s heart. Ruby acts and reacts in a sensible state of receptivity in which the other actors play the role of governing her emotions. Ruby projects an endurance of composure under dire straits when future artistry miraculously arrives at her doorstep, and does not look disturbed by her curious surroundings. It is a story that is difficult to discuss without giving away the plot. The author, for her part, is so judiciously imaginative and psychologically astute that she turns A Different Kind of Fire into a brilliant portrayal of love at a restrained pace and with a contemplative tenor. It has situations, superbly sensual and inventively vivid. Until I read this book, I always thought that creating a classic piece of work is literature’s hidden secret of appeal only a few like Jane Austen and Marilynne Robinson could master.Sidd BurthAuthor of The Poison Earrings
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  • Deborah Bluestein
    January 1, 1970
    The author sent me a copy of this book to review. Being a slow reader I thought it would take me a long time to read it, but it was such an easy and compelling read I kept coming back to it and read it in just a few days. I like the way the emphasis in the relationships is more about the interpersonal dynamic between the lovers whose gender is secondary to the attractions that bind them to each other. Aside from Ruby's passions for her lovers, her passion for her art and her commitment to develo The author sent me a copy of this book to review. Being a slow reader I thought it would take me a long time to read it, but it was such an easy and compelling read I kept coming back to it and read it in just a few days. I like the way the emphasis in the relationships is more about the interpersonal dynamic between the lovers whose gender is secondary to the attractions that bind them to each other. Aside from Ruby's passions for her lovers, her passion for her art and her commitment to develop it in the face of insurmountable obstacles—both in society and within herself—are believable. Though many scenes are sensual, the writing is never heavy handed and the descriptions of nature and landscapes are treated with as much sensory detail as the romantic encounters. The mention of artists who flourished and made their reputations during the historic period of the novel place it in an era when women artists, especially those painting "unladylike" subjects were often marginalized. A very accomplished first novel with a story that raises questions still relevant to all women struggling today to find, claim, express, and share their artistic visions with the world. —Dorah Blume, author of historical novel Botticelli's Muse
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  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    A more than powerful read. As a debut novel for author Suanne Schafer, her descriptive talents are intense. A Different Kind of Fire is riveting, heartbreaking, challenging, yet informative to the time period. The characters are well rounded; some extreme, some fiery and impassioned, some harsh.I found the overall story to be very well written as presented to the reader, however, the sexual content weaved within its chapters (most of them) may make some uncomfortable. Scenes of sex, abuse, bruta A more than powerful read. As a debut novel for author Suanne Schafer, her descriptive talents are intense. A Different Kind of Fire is riveting, heartbreaking, challenging, yet informative to the time period. The characters are well rounded; some extreme, some fiery and impassioned, some harsh.I found the overall story to be very well written as presented to the reader, however, the sexual content weaved within its chapters (most of them) may make some uncomfortable. Scenes of sex, abuse, brutal rape and the love and attraction our protagonist Ruby has and shares for not only men, but one particular woman are paramount within this story. Ruby's life choices take her full circle and then some. Her intense need and love for art in a male-dominated world and her struggles due to this have her fighting a battle she may NEVER win......all the while battling her loves, losses, family disgrace and her need too fit in somewhere, anywhere, during the mid 1800-1900's. An emotionally intense journey.....Novels N Latte Book BlogNovels & Latte Book Club
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  • Amanda Bennett
    January 1, 1970
    The story was so beautifully written I couldn't put it down. When I needed to step away, Ruby followed, and after I finished the book, I felt like I had endured something important. Ruby's internal struggles have stayed with me and made me question how my own artistic pursuits are in opposition to many of choices I've made in my life. I loved getting lost in her bohemian experiences at art school and how it impacted her relationships with her lovers. As a native Texan, I enjoyed reading about th The story was so beautifully written I couldn't put it down. When I needed to step away, Ruby followed, and after I finished the book, I felt like I had endured something important. Ruby's internal struggles have stayed with me and made me question how my own artistic pursuits are in opposition to many of choices I've made in my life. I loved getting lost in her bohemian experiences at art school and how it impacted her relationships with her lovers. As a native Texan, I enjoyed reading about the 1890s in west Texas. So much of Ruby's young life reminded me of the stories my grandmother used to tell. I can see myself re-reading A Different Kind of Fire, and I look forward to reading future books by Suanne Schafer.
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  • Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
    January 1, 1970
    I'm giving this one 3.5 to 4 stars. I had such mixed feelings as I was reading this book and, in the end, am so glad I stuck with it.Schafer has created a character that is really 3-dimensional and sometimes thoroughly infuriating. And still I found myself on this journey with Ruby and wanted to know where it would take us. The whole plot is a stack of triangles with Ruby always aiming to reach one of the apexes. Loved Bismark's character, really was petrified of Willow as I found her predatory. I'm giving this one 3.5 to 4 stars. I had such mixed feelings as I was reading this book and, in the end, am so glad I stuck with it.Schafer has created a character that is really 3-dimensional and sometimes thoroughly infuriating. And still I found myself on this journey with Ruby and wanted to know where it would take us. The whole plot is a stack of triangles with Ruby always aiming to reach one of the apexes. Loved Bismark's character, really was petrified of Willow as I found her predatory. And Frank - well, he was the main part of my frustration next to Ruby's seemingly "chronic dissatisfaction".I felt that some compressions of time and subplot left me dangling as either some things were not tied off at all or tied off too neatly, leaving me short-changed. Yet, throughout all the ups and downs, one thing was certain: I wanted to read to the end.This was also sexy and sensual in a surprising way. I don't read historical romance at all (with the steamy covers, etc.) and this was, at the very beginning, bordering on requiring a different kind of cover. I was cautious about whether the goal was to be exploitative or going for shock value. However, it soon became clear that this was part of Ruby's story and was required because it was key to her development as a woman on the brink of emancipation and feminism. I say on the brink because I never felt she really emancipated herself...the end simply underscores and hones that point. Without a doubt, Schafer demonstrates real talent and skill. I was immersed in the setting, the story, and the characters; they all stuck with me and made me ponder a lot - not just about the style and technique of the writer, but the subject and themes portrayed. And I love books that do that. I look forward to seeing what Schafer does in the future.
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  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    I used to read voraciously, until two years ago when tragedy battered our family for the better part of a year. Since then I've had to struggle to get through reading anything longer than a few paragraphs. It's very frustrating because I love reading... I just don't have the concentration to read books any more.That said, I had no trouble getting through 'Fire'. It's quite possibly the best book I've read since 'Oscar Wao'.The characters are wonderfully rendered, very realistic, and the kind of I used to read voraciously, until two years ago when tragedy battered our family for the better part of a year. Since then I've had to struggle to get through reading anything longer than a few paragraphs. It's very frustrating because I love reading... I just don't have the concentration to read books any more.That said, I had no trouble getting through 'Fire'. It's quite possibly the best book I've read since 'Oscar Wao'.The characters are wonderfully rendered, very realistic, and the kind of characters you don't mind spending time with. The plot is heart-wrenchingly real -- so much so that I was fully involved in Ruby's, Bismark's and Willow's happiness and heartbreak.The story is tastefully rendered while staying true to the topics of women's issues and maintaining historical accuracy.
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  • K. Loomis
    January 1, 1970
    This book is much more than your typical romance novel, although all the romance elements are strongly present and drive the overall plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the explorations of early feminism, art, history, prejudice, and social injustice as much as I did the love story. This book reminds me how lucky I am as a female to have been born when I was with the right to vote and make choices about my own body already won. Kudos to Suanne Schafer for taking on a tough story and wrangling it into an This book is much more than your typical romance novel, although all the romance elements are strongly present and drive the overall plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the explorations of early feminism, art, history, prejudice, and social injustice as much as I did the love story. This book reminds me how lucky I am as a female to have been born when I was with the right to vote and make choices about my own body already won. Kudos to Suanne Schafer for taking on a tough story and wrangling it into an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
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  • Anna Quinn
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written historical epic about a young woman coming to terms with her artistic, intimate and sexual passions in an era of relentless restrictions. Sensual and rich in its descriptions, you won’t be able to put this brilliant story down.
  • D.B. Moone
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve read many reviews by those that felt the plot of Schafer’s debut novel, A Different Kind of Fire was driven by romance; however, I found the plot to be inspired by all that was taboo for women in the 19th century, whether in America or across the pond, pursuing a life in the arts. Schafer’s protagonist, Ruby Louise was to me, reminiscent of the 19th-century French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin who wrote under the pseudonym George Sand because woman authors were demeaned by male auth I’ve read many reviews by those that felt the plot of Schafer’s debut novel, A Different Kind of Fire was driven by romance; however, I found the plot to be inspired by all that was taboo for women in the 19th century, whether in America or across the pond, pursuing a life in the arts. Schafer’s protagonist, Ruby Louise was to me, reminiscent of the 19th-century French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin who wrote under the pseudonym George Sand because woman authors were demeaned by male authors and treated condescendingly, just as Ruby Louise was treated in her pursuit of artistic painting.“What you paint is unladylike…Your artwork does not lie within the realm of womanly art.” – A Different Kind of FireBoth Sand and Ruby Louise were more alike than not, with the exception that George Sand dressed as a man, wearing pants, a top hat and smoking cigars to be a part of the intellectual places women were banned from attending. Aurora like Ruby Louise rebuffed the double standards of marriage and equality, if in differing ways. It was the time of the suffrage, a time that women were standing up for themselves and demanding free choice.Melodious, yet defiant, her voice rang out over the multitude. “Yes! I am a Free Lover. A woman has the right to control her body, to refuse her husband if she desires. She has the right to remain unmarried, to bear children outside of wedlock, to love whom she chooses when she chooses. The state has no right to interfere with a women’s–” A Different Kind of FireWas it romance or passion? Again, both Ruby Louise in America and Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin had a female lover, while still being sexually involved with men. I have read reviews in which Ruby Louise was referred to as being bisexual; however, this is not true, Ruby had one long-lasting sexual liaison with one woman and made it clear that she was not attracted to women, even after becoming sexually involved with, and thereafter falling in love with Willow, while also remaining in love with Bismarck. Ruby’s attraction to Willow developed out of their shared passion for painting which was a passion their families found scandalous and inappropriate. Becoming a painter was an unacceptable pursuit for women just as becoming a novelist was intolerable for women. The distinct difference between Ruby Louise was that Willow loved only women, and George Sand was considered bisexual as she had multiple sexual liaisons with both men and women. Ruby Louise and Willow’s passion for painting morphed into a sexual appetite and ultimately into a deep love. Despite this deep love Ruby Louise continued to be in love with her Texas beau regardless of the Baron and Willow. Who eventually ends up with Ruby’s heart in the end? I’m sorry to disappoint, but you will have to read A Different Kind of Fire to discover this for yourself.“Bound by fabric and art, the women covered late into the night, their subjects ranging from chiaroscuro to gouache, from Renaissance artists to those infamous impressionists.” – A Different Kind of Fire I relished A Different Kind of Fire as it returned me geographically to so many places I have visited or lived. When Ruby finds the book store on the corner of South 9th street, it was affecting as I once lived on South 9th street in Philadelphia. I lived in Philadelphia for ten years, and Schafer’s description of the many locales transported me back to the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, as I once fondly referred to the city. Schafer had a lot going on in A Different Kind of Fire but, it was easy to follow without getting lost. Her plot flowed; however, I felt as if some of the characters could have been more developed, but as a debut novel goes, Schafer nailed it. Thank you to Suanne Schafer for the opportunity to read and review A Different Kind of Fire.To read my complete review of A Different Kind of Fire please visit my blog at www.dbmoone.com
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  • Joyce Stewart Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Suanne SchaferA Different Kind of Fire5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐From the Back CoverTorn between her childhood sweetheart, her forbidden passion for another woman, the nobleman she had to marry, and her dream of becoming a painter, Ruby's choices mold her in ways she could never have foreseen as she balances husband, family, lovers, and ambition against the backdrop of 19th century AmericaMy Review 📚📙📘📗📚I cannot say enough good things about this beautiful emotional read . A Different Kind of Fire is a story of chal Suanne SchaferA Different Kind of Fire5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐From the Back CoverTorn between her childhood sweetheart, her forbidden passion for another woman, the nobleman she had to marry, and her dream of becoming a painter, Ruby's choices mold her in ways she could never have foreseen as she balances husband, family, lovers, and ambition against the backdrop of 19th century AmericaMy Review 📚📙📘📗📚I cannot say enough good things about this beautiful emotional read . A Different Kind of Fire is a story of challenges, family, loss, happiness, heartbreak and love. This is the story of a woman whose heart pulls her in two very different directions. Ruby has a very hard decision to make. If she chooses her lover Willow she will lose her fiance, Bismark. If she chooses a home she loves, she loses the art she needs. What will she choose ? All of the characters are well developed. They become alive on the pages and you feel their emotions from her amazing writing. The writing style of this author brings you right into the story as if you are a part of it. She has amazing talent .I also love a book with a strong female character. If you like historical fiction filled with love, relationships, adventure you will love this .
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  • Rhonda Gilmour
    January 1, 1970
    A deeply touching historical epic.Note: This meaty, satisfying work of historical fiction contains realistic depictions of violence and rape. The heroine’s strength and determination in the face of these and other obstacles made the brutality bearable for me, but sensitive readers should beware.It’s been a while since I read through the night, but this meaty, satisfying tale wouldn’t let me go. Set during the Gilded Age of the late 1800s/early 1900s, the narrative spans over forty years in the l A deeply touching historical epic.Note: This meaty, satisfying work of historical fiction contains realistic depictions of violence and rape. The heroine’s strength and determination in the face of these and other obstacles made the brutality bearable for me, but sensitive readers should beware.It’s been a while since I read through the night, but this meaty, satisfying tale wouldn’t let me go. Set during the Gilded Age of the late 1800s/early 1900s, the narrative spans over forty years in the life of Ruby Schmidt, who leaves rural Texas at eighteen to attend art school back East, against her family’s wishes. Her fiancé Biz (short for Bismarck) is reluctant to part from her for a year. Their passionate love (written in steamy detail) isn’t enough to make Ruby relinquish her passion for art, “a different kind of fire.” Schafer’s lyrical writing about art, color, and the world of the senses beautifully conveys the strength of Ruby’s drive to paint.Though she must battle sexist ideas about “women’s art,” Ruby thrives at the Academy. When her one-year stay turns into two, then three, her hopes that Biz will wait for her dwindle, but she never stops loving him, even when her friendship with Willow, a fellow art student, flames into sensual love and a deep soul connection. Despite Willow’s mother’s feminism, their lesbian affair is too scandalous to go unchallenged. Yearning for both Biz and Willow, Ruby eventually falls in with a charming Italian baron, also a fellow art student, and becomes pregnant just as the depression of 1893 hits. Abandoned and penniless, she cannot go back home to Texas, whose beauty continues to tug at her soul. Eventually, with the help of Buffalo Bill Cody and her artistic skill, she earns enough to return home and face her family and Biz. But neither her baron nor Willow are ready to let her go.A skilled author of historical fiction, Schafer weaves in fascinating events from this era. What I enjoyed most, though, was her sensual, moving descriptions of beauty. She conveys Ruby’s experience of physical love, her connection to the land of her birth, her experience of painting, with such creative detail that I was able to really lose myself in the story. Ditto for her depictions of ugliness: the cinder-choked cityscapes back East, acts of violence and their aftermath, and the despair that nearly destroys Ruby when dire circumstances keep her from her art. Truly a beautiful, moving read.
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  • Kaska-Boom!
    January 1, 1970
    I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I waver back and forth between loving and hating the characters. I disliked Ruby for the way she treated Bismarck, and I disliked Bismark for allowing it -- over and over. I liked Ruby for her independence and for her journey of self-discovery; but I disliked her for the hurt she caused at every turn. I loved Bismarck for his patience and kindness and his strength, and yet I didn't understand him tolerating everything Ruby put him through. I loved t I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I waver back and forth between loving and hating the characters. I disliked Ruby for the way she treated Bismarck, and I disliked Bismark for allowing it -- over and over. I liked Ruby for her independence and for her journey of self-discovery; but I disliked her for the hurt she caused at every turn. I loved Bismarck for his patience and kindness and his strength, and yet I didn't understand him tolerating everything Ruby put him through. I loved that they stayed together but hated the part that Willow played in the story. I loved the author for her descriptions of the Texas landscape and her ability to convey internal struggles of the characters, but I hated the same description when it came to bedroom scenes. Some things can be left to the imagination. I hated the ending. It seemed rushed and ... I don't know... forced. It was an ok read. It's not one I'd recommend to anyone else.
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