Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step–reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.What doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger…we hope.
Note: This review will contain slight spoilers for the book series. My review of the first book, A Promise of Fire, can be found here and my review of the second book, Breath of Fire, can be found here!
Also: This series contains mature scenes in both sexy times and graphic violence. Please be aware before reading!
Passion, empathy, love, and growth: four words that this book is comprised of. There is passion in the actions of the characters, stimulated by the love of their family or romantic counterparts. empathy in the feelings they feel regarding one another, and tremendous character growth as each takes the time to learn lessons that would help them grow stronger both physically and mentally. Heart on Fire was a romantic, fun ending to the Kingmakers’ Chronicles (although I do believe, and am excited, for extra stories featuring the side characters). Cat and Griffin’s love story is written in a dramatic conclusion that is full of action and twists.
The first thing I’d like to start with is my appreciation of the romance in these books. Cat and Griffin are equally strong in their own ways, making their romance quite balanced and lovely to see. They’re fiercely passionate about their loved ones, and both characters demonstrate Alpha personalities. Despite that, there’s a respect for the other that makes it a positive, wholesome relationship. Readers also see a progression with their trust in the other as they fall more in love. They are together for pretty much the whole book so there is a lot of sweet scenes romantically that the reader can count on.
“‘You’re the air I breathe,’ he says without a trace of humor in his voice.
My whole chest clenches hard, squeezing a tight, almost painful beat from my heart. ‘I admire you,’ I reply. ‘I need you. I love you with all my heart.’”
Other than that, I think the rest of the storyline felt very padded. The first 20% of the book seemed like the set-up of a side story and had almost nothing to do with the actual progression of the plot. Bouchet’s writing, I have discovered after reading all three of her books, does this thing where she instills a copious amount of dialogue for pages on end. It flows as you’re reading, but in hindsight is awkward when put into the fact that there is a scene going on and characters are just standing around talking for pages on end. These chapters of dialogue are spread between pages of just action. There’s not a good mix of two; the areas of action and fighting are distinctly separate from when she features heavy dialogue. Add to that the reliance on deus ex machina to escape certain plot lines, and it ends up being a story told with holes for me as a reader. I expected a bit more logical explanation rather than the cop out that happens whenever a Greek god appears.
Cat as a character develops so much throughout this series. Her growth is really phenomenal, and while I can appreciate that, I also can’t help but note how frustrating it was in this book. It takes a solid 80% of the book for her to realize something that’s been building up since the beginning of the book. To say reading her failures for the first ⅘ of the book with frustration would be an understatement. Remember what I said about the copious amounts of dialogue? This also includes her inner thoughts. Told in the first person POV, Cat is constantly raging an inner struggle in her narrative. And while this leads to realizations and understandings that augment character growth, I found it tedious by the fifth page. It was quite a lot of repetition that as a reader who was looking for a fast, action-packed story, didn’t quite fall in love with. Nevertheless, I do commend the author for adding these much-needed introspective bits to balance out with the continuous action in the storyline – I just think there could have been a better balance.
“I don’t need to be perfect, or have all the answers. I just have to be me, and fair, and do the best for the people and place I love.”
I really enjoyed getting glimpses of the side characters and the familial love that is always present in the Kingmaker Chronicles. Griffin’s fun family is always a blast to read about, as well as the burgeoning romance between specific side characters that I have no doubt we will explore more of. The overall storyline of defeating Cat’s mother and uniting all the kingdoms together to instill peace is nicely finished with a bow on top. It’s a fantasy romance with a wholesome ending that I think romance readers looking for some action will really like.
While Heart on Fire was a fun read with a passionate romance, excellent exploration of family dynamics, loads of action, and the flavor of friendship to top it off, I didn’t love it as much as previous books. Cat goes through and learns so much in this book, yet as a reader I found her repetitive mistakes quite frustrating. I think fans of the series definitely need to read this book, but for people interested in starting the series to not get their hopes up. The deus ex machina of some plot lines gets me every time though (which I also remember from the second book), bringing down the rating. Overall, Heart on Fire was a pleasant, romantic fantasy escape that readers looking for lots of love – be it friendly, familial, or otherwise – will enjoy.
heavy violence, gore, explicit sexual content, abuse
Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for the review copy!