“Cat” Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.
The Kingmaker Chronicles:
A Promise of Fire
Breath of Fire
Heart on Fire
Visit Amanda Bouchet's website for more information
Every so often a book comes along that surprises you and that's exactly what happened with A Promise of Fire. I saw it was getting some incredibly positive reviews but that just made me more nervous in case it had been over hyped, thankfully that wasn't the case though and this is an impressive debut from Amanda Bouchet that's left me with incredibly high hopes for the Kingmaker Chronicles. The author has created an interesting and well thought out world but where she really excels is with her characters and I totally fell in love with all of them here.
Cat has been hiding in plain sight since she escaped from her powerful and ruthless family several years ago, she works as a fortune teller in a travelling circus and has done her best to keep her true powers hidden from the people around her. She wants no part of the destiny that the gods saddled her with and just wants to be able to live her life in peace. Griffin is pretty sure that she's the Kingmaker, someone with the rare ability to tell when people around her are lying, and he desperately needs her help to ensure his non magical family are able to maintain their crown when they're up against enemies whose abilities are far greater. Cat has no intention of coming out of hiding to help him so he does the only thing he can think of and takes her captive.
I have to admit that I was nervous about that very early development in the story, I'm not a huge fan of heroes who kidnap their leading ladies and literally tie themselves to her for the first quarter of a book, especially when there is a romance involved. Let's face it, potential Stockholm Syndrome isn't very sexy is it? But Amanda Bouchet managed to not only make it work but to make me enjoy every minute of it. I liked that we got enough information about Griffin's motivations to understand why he did the things he did even if I didn't always agree with his choices but what I liked even more was that Cat wasn't a passive captive. She didn't just automatically follow his lead and she fought him every step of the way. She wasn't at all happy about the situation she found herself in and her reactions were completely believable.
Cat is a fabulous character, she's quite a tomboy and she's very open in her dislike of Griffin and his band of men. She pushes and pushes at them and even though there is some immediate chemistry between her and Griffin she absolutely refuses to act on it when he's holding her prisoner. I loved that the relationship between them develops slowly, Cat gradually comes to respect Griffin as she gets to know him and sees the way he treats the people around him. She's used to dealing with royalty that treat their subjects like dirt so she's shocked that he genuinely cares about his men and fights alongside them. Griffin isn't at all the man she first thought he was and it's only when she starts to see beyond the kidnapping that she starts to fall for him.
Griffin is one of those heroes that does things that you know logically should make you hate him but that you find yourself falling for anyway. To be fair, aside from the kidnapping he was a pretty great guy and when you find out why he did what he did it becomes much harder to vilify him for it. I'm not trying to justify his actions because he was totally in the wrong but he was trying to make the best of a bad situation and he was doing it to protect his family and the people he cares about so it's hard to hate him for it. It took time for him to trust that Cat would help his family and she's still keeping a pretty major secret from him but I enjoyed their relationship so much. I also really enjoyed seeing him with his men and I loved the banter between the whole group, especially when Cat had been added into the mix. She earned the respect of everyone around her and just fitted in with them like she was meant to be there.
A Promise of Fire was full of action, suspense and humour, the romance element was done perfectly and the world building was brilliant. It's a story that sucked me in on the first page and kept me completely hooked until the last, I was actually annoyed when real life got in the way and I had to put it down. I loved both the setting and the characters and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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