A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca: August 2, 2016
Source: Free from publisher
Reading this book felt like eating too much candy and regretting it afterward.
It has all the romance tropes you could want (and probably more): a heroine with a terrible past and unique skills who has to hide from the world for political reasons, a hero who doesn’t tell her who he is for his own political reasons, a kidnapping, instant attraction, bickering between the hero and heroine, and gradual trust.
It’s set in a fantasy world, and the heroine, Cat, has run away from her family to avoid becoming like her ruthless, malicious, sadistic, abusive and power-hungry mother. She’s been with the circus since she was 15, until the day the local warlord, Beta Sinta – the most powerful man in the kingdom she’s visiting at the time – discovers her. They meet, sparks fly, he abducts her, and they learn to get along through forced closeness (he captures her with a magical rope she can’t escape from). He’s a decent guy, though, a good one, and completely alien to Cat, since she grew up surrounded by terrible people. So the abduction, kidnapping, and travel to his castle in another city is okay – because neither he nor his men mean her any harm.
He falls for her first, she denies her attraction… and she’s determined not to tell him who she is really, at first because she doesn’t trust him not to use her the way her mother used her, and later because she doesn’t want to see him or his friends and family hurt.
This is a gods and mortals tale – set in a fantasy world with the Greek pantheon, the gods play a very hands-on role in the characters’ lives. Cat is the god-daughter of Poseidon, one of her fellow circus members is the lover of Hades, and Zeus gets in on the action at one point. Athena is worshiped by Beta Sinta and his people. If you want the favor of the gods or magical powers, you need to find an Oracle and not get eaten alive by it.
It’s fast-paced, exciting, and the romantic temperature is hot. I devoured this book and then wondered why a little, since nothing really novel happens in it. It’s chock-full of those romantic tropes and set in a pretty standard fantasy world. You’ll probably enjoy it if you read hot romances with characters who spend a bit of time not liking each other, and if you’re in the mood for a light fantasy that’s harder than it should be to put down.
C.L. Wilson has also written some romantic fantasies, heavy on the romance, that seem a little strange once finished, but may be difficult to put down. I read her Tairen Soul series years ago, which features, yes, flying panther shapeshifters. Also lots of emotion, action, and romantic tension.
One of my favorite romantic series, that has a ton of wit, lots of banter, and sweet romances, is by Lynn Kurland. If you’re looking for a funny, romantic, swashbuckling and magical fantasy, I’d highly recommend:
You may also enjoy Winterwood, which I reviewed in February. It has magic, pirates, shapeshifters, and fae in an alternate 19th century England.