Desert Phoenix—Inspired by a True Story by Suzette Bruggeman is a poignant narrative that is as psychologically disturbing as it is emotionally rich. It follows the story of a woman forced into prostitution and her journey to finding love and inner freedom. She has known love and innocence as a child, but after losing her family to yellow fever, Tempa is forced into prostitution as a girl. Hers is a hard world where drugs, alcoholism, and depression are a constant for her. While she enjoys literature, hers is a world without that luxury, yet she finds ways to share literature with her fellow prostitutes. Then she meets Henry, a German immigrant and a very kind man who is being hunted by a ruthless enemy. In nursing him, Tempa develops feelings for Henry, but she knows deep within her that it can't lead anywhere. When the danger that pursues Henry gets even closer, will she risk everything to grab the only chance at freedom and to be with the man for whom her heart throbs?
This is a mesmerizing story that has an irresistible appeal to fans of romance and tales that are enmeshed in reality. The protagonist is a richly-wrought character and her transition from being Lou — the girl brought up with a strong sense of heaven and hell and an in whose heart has been instilled the fear of hellfire — into Tempa, a prostitute is a shift that has strong psychological implications in the narrative and the author explores them with intelligence and literary bravado. Her inner struggle is to keep her dignity and self-worth while doing something directly opposing everything she has been raised to be. Bruggeman provides a fascinating background to the story, letting readers know this is a true story that is only enriched by her imagination. The writing is infused with reality and the characters are not only believable but real. The author injects honesty into her depiction of the characters and the raw fervor and passion underline the care with which the author explores the humanity of these characters. Desert Phoenix—Inspired by a True Story features clever plotting, focused scenes, and superior storytelling.