A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
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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.
This book actually has a lot going for it. Really. The world is interesting, Cat is a great feisty character and it seems like she has a rich past full of secrets to discover. I’m intrigued by her magic and by the history of the world it’s set in. I liked the tone and pacing. It had the makings of a perfect “me” book.
But I just couldn’t get past that opening. Basically, Griffin kidnaps Cat for her magic because he needs her to help him keep his recently-conquored kingdom together. Cat, understandably, does not like being blackmailed and kidnapped and then restrained all the time so she doesn’t disappear. I’m fine with all that, but what I don’t like is how it dragged out. The idea is that Griffin isn’t a “bad guy,” he’s just doing what needs to be done for his kingdom, has good intent, so pragmatic and direct it goes into grey areas, yadda yadda. Fine. BUT. The opening was too harsh, too smash and grab. There was no attempt to get Cat on his side, it was just “Bam, you’re mine, I’ll kill your friends if you keep fighting.” Followed by…nothing. No attempts to calm her down, woo her to their cause, explain things to her, nothing. He was too aggressive at the start and then he followed it up by doing zilch to make up for his (quite frankly) horrible actions. I could have handled it if either half of that sentence had changed. If he’d grabbed her then tried to make nice, or if he’d tried to convince her first and only resorted to force as a last (ish) resort. I mean, he wouldn’t be a hero or anything because kidnapping is still shitty, but at least I could roll along with it.
And Cat, bless her, put up a fight the whole way. Which is great and well she should because she’s been kidnapped and threatened, but that just means that Griffin’s douchery is front-and-center every time I open the book. And that’s really exhausting. It got to the point where my reading time was actually making me anxious. So, nope, DNF.
So close to a really good thing, and I’m sure others will have a blast with it, because it does have a lot going for it. But I just couldn’t get past that initial bit.