Monday, July 2, 2018

A PROMISE OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet

Rating: A

Catalia "Cat" Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin's fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

My thoughts on the book:
I picked up A Promise of Fire at BEA in Chicago, back in 2016. Between all of the moves and life disasters and events since then, I never got around to reading it. When I was looking at my bookshelf yesterday, trying to decide what to read, it jumped out at me, and I'm glad it did. This is a fantastic novel. The characters are so well-developed, they feel like real people. The writing is superb; the pacing is spot-on. There is the right balance of action and romance, and the ending ties things up while leaving room for the sequel, which I've already bought and downloaded on my Kindle. 

Cat is a fantastic heroine. She has just the right amount of sass. Her horrific past is heartbreaking, and while she seems too combative and flat out abusive, it starts to make sense the more Cat reveals about herself. Griffin was a bit too "macho" for my tastes. He needed a course on toxic masculinity and then he needed to tone it down a bit. Cat can more than stand up for herself, though, and at least she called him out on his crap. Also, he took a lot of Cat's abuse, and even though he abducted her (when looking at this through an Ancient Greek mythological lens and all of the events surrounding it, it's not as annoying or awful as it would be in other contexts), he was kind and didn't deserve her wrath to the extent that she dealt it. I liked that both characters were flawed and that I didn't love everything about them, though. It made them more real. The secondary characters were just as well-developed, and I really loved Flynn and Carver. They were my two favorites, I think. 

The world-building and descriptions were well done, and I felt like I was there in this fantastical realm with Cat and Griffin. The plot was sound, and with all of the Greek mythology woven into a fantasy realm, that couldn't have been easy. Normally I get annoyed with characters who seem to develop Stockholm's Syndrome, I don't think that was really the case in this instance. There were a lot of sociopolitical, cultural, and religious things surrounding Cat's abduction that made it less of an abduction and more of a fate type of thing. Anyway, potential Stockholm's Syndrome aside, there was just the right mix of action and romance, and our heroine is no pansy. She can fight just as well, if not better than, the men. One thing that struck me as different in this novel is that there were large sections devoted to Cat developing relationships (friendships and a romantic relationship) with different people, and while I would have thought that would annoy me, it actually made the relationships feel more realistic and really created a rich emotional story. 

Overall, I'd recommend this novel to anyone who loves paranormal romance, fantasy novels, and Greek mythology. It's a wonderfully unique and genuine read.

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