Heart On Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: The Kingmaker Chronicals, #3
Released: January 2, 2018
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: “Hate is an easier emotion to deal with than love. Hate is cold, with a strong, hard shell. Love is burning, with a thousand fragile cracks that lead straight to your soul.”
Heart On Fire is book three in the Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy and I’m already trying to figure out how just onnnnneeeee more novel can fit in, I mean, who likes trilogies anyway? A Tetralogy- now that’s the wave of the future. You hear that Bouchet? Tetralogy, is all I’m saying. This series is everything enthralling and vibrant and action packed and romantic and funny and compelling and (insert enthusiastic adjective of your choice). Books one, A Promise of Fire and two, Breath of Fire were both reviewed by Mandi and I seriously suggest reading them in order. This is not a series that stands alone well, with it containing so much rich world building, realm politics, light mythology and complex personal relationships, much would be lost and the experience would be spoiled if read as a one-off.
Heart picks up shortly after events in Breath set the stage for a coup of epic proportions. Cat and Griffin are the newly minted Tarvan Alpha couple and have their hand full with managing the hoards of adoring crowds who have converged upon the castle. They take to donning disguises to slip away to handle another pressing problem in the across the realm and on their journey they run into Griffin’s siblings, teen-aged Kaia and warrior brother, and Judas du jour, Piers. Their ill fated meeting lays the groundwork for events that propel Cat on a most dangerous and catastrophic path and shifts something vital in Cat and Griffin, causing fissures that ran deep and manifested throughout the story. No more so than how they each contend with the knowledge that the Gods interfered and did a little more than nudge them toward one another.
Somehow, when Griffin would insist, low in my ear with a rasp in his voice, that I was made for him, I found that alluring, shiver-inducing, and safe. I reveled in it as much as I reveled in the feel of his big, sword-roughened hands skating up my bare ribs, and I started to crave those words like I craved his possessive touch. Hearing that, in essence, he was made for me makes me feel like rocks are churning in my stomach. If the Gods had never given him his immunity to harmful magic with our common future in mind, an alteration that eventually brought him to Castle Sinta and then to me on that fateful day at the circus fair, would his heart and soul have carried him toward someone else?
Aside from the emotional and romantic entanglements and fall out from Pier’s betrayal, the focus of the story is Cat gaining control and understanding how the special power, the ichor, in her blood and learning to trust herself while harnessing her power- to vanquish her evil incarnate mother, Alpha Fisa once and for all. Cat was destined to be the beacon, the embodiment of hope, as foretold by an oracle and she is faced with one test after the other, coming face to face with polarizing blasts from her past and with each test a different lesson learned regarding the importance of hope and belief in herself and her love.
My lesson was a long time coming, this unveiling of the truth. I think I’ve learned it now, after wading through the swamp of my own distrust and lies. I’ve finally stepped onto dry ground and see the future before me.
I look at Mother…And what I see is a parent whose children are pawns to her. And a queen whose subjects live in fear of her. Mother. Ruler. The responsibilities that should have been anchored deep in her heart, mean nothing to her. Give birth but don’t protect. Hold absolute power- only to abuse it. She is the very embodiment of betrayal.
The power struggle between Cat and her mother reaches a fever pitch, their battle vicious and cruel and not without casualties, collateral damage that leaves no one’s heart unscathed. What stood out to me was the progress Cat’s made since the first novel where her fear of Alpha Fisa was absolute. Now, Cat is Queen and has more to fight for than ever before and Alpha Fisa is on the defense and for the first time appears truly afraid of the daughter she raised with broken bones and blood. Her fear causing her to lash out without her usual calculating precision. Alpha Fisa is falling and it is magnificent to behold the descent and accession of the estranged mother and daughter whose battle changes the landscape of the kingdoms.
Overall, I didn’t find Heart On Fire to be as OMG, WHOA as its predecessors, there were truly some parts that felt a little muddled, and I wasn’t a fan of a particular big reveal, but this is absolutely, fantastic fantasy and I don’t care! The sarcasm and witty humor, the self-deprecation the adventure, it is all so addictive. The sexual tension is not as prevalent in this installment, but Griffin and Cat steamed things up just enough to keep the heat factor simmering.
Leaning forward, I sweep my hands up his thighs. His skin is damp and cold, his powerful muscles are taut, and his short, dark hair is coarse against my palms. I dip my head and kiss the first hard ridge of his abdomen. His midriff tenses. My breasts sway under me as I move, brushing his growing erection…My lips never leave his skin, and my breath swirls between us as I lick the indent next to his hip, humming softly at how good he tastes, like cold, fresh water and crisp mountain air.
This is fantasy romance and we are rewarded with a solid HEA, but the end wasn’t wrapped up as tightly as I like series enders to be. Most things were settled, yes, okay fine and well, but with the climax and resolution, even more questions arose, practically begging for an answer. Supporting characters (OMG Lycheron! Swoooooon!!!!) whom I’m not at all finished with. Sure, Cat and Griffin are riding off into the sunset, and hope and peace are renewed, but what about Griffin’s brothers? What about LB, What about Lycheron!!? (Seriously, you can’t write someone as freaking captivating as Lycheron and bail) Is this truly the last novel? Does this have to be a trilogy? Gah, I hope not. This world is far to rich to snuff out so early. Spin off or we riot!-
I think Cat would agree :-)