I love a really good fantasy romance. If an author pairs magic or dragons or supernatural beasts with human characters who might kiss and then do kiss, I’m pretty much guaranteed to like it. In the case of Amanda Bouchet’s A Promise of Fire, book one in her Kingmaker Chronicles, I don’t just like it. I love it, I’m engrossed in it, and it makes me wish that I had super amazing abilities like absorbing the magic of others and using it as a weapon and also a really cool name like Cat.
When the book opens, Cat is reputedly a soothsayer working at a circus. A man—who is “striking in a dark, magnetic way, his size, weapons, and bearing all telling me he’s a tribal warlord”—stares at her before approaching her table and asking her a question about the fidelity of the men who serve under him. Cat’s uncomfortable, and it becomes increasingly clear that the warlord, whose name is Griffin, knows that she’s more than just a soothsayer: she’s a kingmaker, someone who can tell if someone else is being honest or untruthful.
It turns out that Griffin is more than he appears as well; he’s the second in command of a country, and he wants to kidnap Cat so that he and his family can maintain their hold on the country and further their dominion. Though Cat is extraordinarily strong and powerful (see first paragraph), Griffin succeeds in kidnapping her, and what follows is a thrilling, inventive, and insanely sexual-tension-filled cross-country ride.
Though Cat’s kidnapped, she proves time and time again that she’s an extremely resourceful and strong woman who is far from powerless. And though Griffin is a kidnapper—never a desirable trait, even in a romance novel—he proves that his motivations aren’t selfish and that he has genuine feeling for Cat. The characters in A Promise of Fire are complex, rich, and bold, and their epic lives—and love story—take place against a backdrop of warring countries and Greek mythology.
This is a romance novel unlike any that I’ve ever read before.
If you’re not usually drawn to romance novels, read this one because you’re looking for a mainstream fantasy that seems like it would draw in both ardent fans of the genre and those who usually avoid it. And if you are drawn to romance novels, read this one because it’s original and daring, and one of the hottest reads that I’ve read in a good long while.
Give me that HEA, please.
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