Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet

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Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

Source: advance galley provided by Sourcebooks Casablanca

I have been blown away! Charged with a heady dose of Greek mythology, A Promise of Fire has all the action and adventure that I didn't even know I was missing. Every element from the characters to the plot to the writing worked so perfectly in unison that I declare it one of my favourite books of the year, and Amanda Bouchet a breakout star of 2016!

Cat grabbed my attention immediately as a very enjoyable protagonist whose spirited nature kept me on my toes throughout the book. Her complicated past informs her every decision. Self-preservation is a priority and her instincts have kept her alive so far. Griffin discovering her whereabouts creates a whole new set of complications. For his part, Griffin's calm demeanor and sarcasm make him the perfect foil to Cat's feistiness. He definitely forces her to up her game around him but she can't deny that he gets to her, too. Their vocal sparring and attraction adds fuel to the story though it isn't the only thing. Cat's special ability is a valuable prize for anyone who can capture her. There's always a threat against them no matter where they go making it hard not to be swept up in all the madness.

One of the things I love about the story is how wonderfully the characters are fleshed out. Cat's family history is complex (Mother Dearest has nothing on her mother) which puts anyone in contact with her at risk. Griffin's altruism is surprising considering the world they inhabit. His perspective comes off as naive when compared to Cat's cynical outlook. This is a world filled with political chicanery, warring factions, power-hungry individuals and shaky alliances. This subplot is just as intriguing as all the interpersonal relationships developing. Take for example, the romance brewing between Cat and Griffin. Their chemistry is a slow and steady build that's playful and teasing, flirty and serious, agonizing and amusing. Their intimate moments prior to their make-out sessions are so seductive; basically all the push and pull that makes romances an engaging read. Also interesting is Cat's connection with the guys in Griffin's entourage. They're fun, charming personalities but because Cat doesn't trust easily, the camaraderie and loyalty she witnesses between them is a foreign concept. 

I thought I was enjoying things as I was reading along but apparently I was wrong. With danger lurking anywhere, the story bristles with energy and anticipation. Bouchet allows the plot to unfold at a perfect pace, knowing exactly when to inject urgency or humour or tension. Her descriptions gave me a good sense of the the people and their world. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up A Promise of Fire. Yes, it has a stunning cover. Yes, it sounded like it would be a good time. What I discovered is a smart and thrilling story featuring a fearless and savvy heroine who meets an equally fearless and genuine-hearted hero. Together they hope to change their bloodthirsty world into a better one for the future. My suggestion: set aside time to lose yourself in this epic adventure! 

~ Bel

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