A Promise of Fire by Amanada Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca: August 2, 2016
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Source: Free From Publisher
I’d go there again!
A Promise of Fire is one of those books that’s a bit tricky to review. On the one hand, it’s a bit of a problematic read considering that it’s a romance and the so-called hero kidnaps the heroine. On the other hand, I found it an entertaining read that I couldn’t peel my eyes away from. So keep in mind that you too may be frustrated by some character’s actions in A Promise of Fire but you will ultimately enjoy this one for being a breath of fresh air in the romance genre.
Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a psychic who works in a circus. Cat is also in hiding from the powerful Fisa family. Cat’s powers make her unique; she can sense when a person is lying, which makes her valuable as a political tool. Due to her ability to sense a lie (just one of many fantastical abilities) Cat is known as a Kingmaker. Since escaping the Fisa family Cat has successfully hidden her abilities and carved out a life for herself in the circus. Naturally, that life is not mean to be and Cat is kidnapped by the Sintan warlord Griffin who wants to use Cat’s ability to solidify his sister’s leadership after overthrowing the previous leaders of the Sinta and bringing in a non-magical leader. Enter magic and mayhem and things get complicated very quickly. A Promise of Fire is a really, really good start to a fantasy romance series. The fantasy romance genre is one that I don’t see getting a lot of love, but is probably one of my favourite sub-genres. I wish more books in this genre were published! The fact that A Promise of Fire combined fantasy with romance is exactly what made me want to read the book. Personally, I found the level of detail in the world in which Bouchet created to be intriguing and descriptive without being overpowering (detailed world building can be your enemy). The Greek mythology aspects in the novel came across as both refreshing and reflective of those adventurous myths of old. Add in a romance and I was one happy camper and I’m officially anxious to get my hands on book two.
Despite my love for A Promise of Fire and it’s refreshing content, I will admit that I did find the romance problematic. Cat is kidnapped by Griffin. Okay, this concept is not a new one in the romance genre. But what I found troublesome was the fact that Griffin never realized why this was, you know, wrong. Cat was understandably not happy about being dragged away from the life she had built and fought back constantly. While Griffin and his merry band of kidnappers never abused Cat, the whole setup left me feeling rather uncomfortable. Definitely more of an “old school” romance vibe going on here, which isn’t helped by the fact that readers only get the story through Cat’s eyes. What was going through Griffin’s head is anyone’s guess. What I does help to mitigate some of the problematic nature of Cat and Griffin’s inevitable relationship is the fact that it took so long to develop. It’s not a perfect relationship by modern standards, but I do think the author was able to show that there was more than coercion at work in Cat and Griffin’s relationship. And, A Promise of Fire is only the first in a series, so there’s still time for Griffin to show some empathy towards Cat’s situation.
If you’re a fan of the fantasy romance genre and feel, like me, that there’s been a bit of a drought with these kinds of books being published, you will not want to miss A Promise of Fire. The world that the author has created is unique and familar. The romance might be problematic, but it’s also compelling and serves as a good base for deeper exploration in future books. An excellent debut from the author.
If you enjoyed the more old-school romance vibe that’s going on in Cat and Griffin’s romance, you will enjoy C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King. I definitely had issues with The Winter King, but at the same time, I appreciated the fantasy setting and was compelled to finish the book.
Maria V. Snyder’s Healer trilogy reads a bit younger than A Promise of Fire, but I do think fans of the fantasy romance genre will appreciate this one. The trilogy also features a hero that coerces the heroine to his causes. The relationship is less questionable than the one in A Promise of Fire, which is something that I appreciate. Start with the first book, Touch of Power.
Lastly, Grace Draven’s Master of Crows is an excellent fantasy romance. You’ve got another enemies-to-lovers story plus a whole lot of fantastic world building. Highly recommended.