Review: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Kingmaker Chronicles #3)

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 2, 2018

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Who is Catalia Fisa?

  

Powerful seer and Kingmaker Cat Fisa is about to fight the biggest battle of her life…but is she ready for it?

As always, the Greek mythology-inspired world building in this series is delightful. In HEART ON FIRE we learn more about the unique relationship that Cat has with the gods of the Greek pantheon…which means that we get to see them up close and personal. And as you might expect, with heavy-hitters like Ares involved, it’s a wild ride! Seeing Cat, Griffin, and the rest of the Beta Team working together to neutralize threats and unite the kingdoms was also fun, and those scenes reminded me of how much I enjoyed the first book in this series.

Much to my chagrin, the romantic aspects of this fantasy-romance story were some the least enjoyable for me to read thanks to shaky characterization. Despite the progress made in previous volumes, Cat reverts back to old habits and wallows in crippling low self-esteem while Griffin is over-protective and seems to forget what a total badass his wife is. When she’s not out there saving everyone’s butt, Cat falls prey to the whole “I’m a hero and therefore anything bad that happens ever is my fault” thing. Had this happened a handful of times in the story I would’ve been fine with it, but she had a guilt-induced meltdown after every semi-negative event in the story.

HEART ON FIRE being the final book in a trilogy, there are many “bad things” going on and the characters have to grapple with significant loss. There are a lot of loose ends and ambiguous endings for certain characters, which I found somewhat frustrating. The confrontation between Cat and her mother, the Big Bad of the series, finally comes to pass and it was underwhelming. Since the entire series was building up to that moment, I didn’t expect it to be over and done with in a few pages.

I’m also disappointed that Bouchet didn’t follow up on the character who was raped in the second book; personally, I thought it was brushed aside in the previous book BREATH OF FIRE and it was completely forgotten in HEART ON FIRE. Using sexual violence to manipulate readers is a cheap tactic, and given the conversations going on in the publishing world and in society at large, I’m genuinely surprised that any editor would let that slide.

Ultimately, I thought that HEART ON FIRE was the weakest book in the Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy. The world is still fascinating and the action fun, but for me, the magic of the series is gone.

Have you read HEART ON FIRE? Can you think of any series you initially enjoyed that took a disappointing turn? Let me know in the comments!

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20 thoughts on “Review: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

  1. Sorry to hear it wasn’t very good! I hate it when a sequel fails to deliver, and/or takes a weird turn. I remember I really enjoyed the Shattered Sea trilogy, but the latter part of the final book kinda took it to a weird place (spoiler-y, so I can’t say exactly why) and it felt a little out of place IMO.

  2. Oh no, I’m sorry the final book was a disappointment. But the guilt after every little thing does sound frustrating, especially if a lot of bad things are happening. And when the final big battle is underwhelming, it’s a let-down. I’ve read a couple series like this, where I loved them at first but they didn’t end strong, and it’s tough because part of me still wants to rec them because I did enjoy them, but I feel like I need to rec them with a disclaimer!

    1. Oh my gosh, yes! I definitely still want to rec the first book in this series to people looking for fantasy romance (such a tricky genre), but I feel like I should suggest *only* reading the first book. And now I kinda feel bad for hyping up the series so much when it turned out so differently than I thought it would! 😅

  3. I haven’t read this series, but there’s nothing worse than finishing a series off with a let down! I’m so sorry this book was a disappointment, it sucks to get to the end of a series and not have it finish like you want it to… Ah well! Onto a new series?!

  4. Everyone I’m seeing reviewing this book say they’re disappointed so it sucks you’re another one disliking elements of it. It’s the worst when the final book in a series is a let down as it really colours the rest of the series. I admit I only read the first book in this series and it was good but I did notice things I didn’t like which is why I’ve not gotten around to continuing on. I kind of feel like maybe it’s good I didn’t continue now, though.

    1. As far as I’m concerned, this series ended after the first book. LOL. But really though, I think you’re fine without reading the final two — the series ends exactly how you’d expect, but with a whole lot of whack and problematic stuff in the middle bits.

    1. Yes, I agree! These characters deserve better than the ending they got, in my opinion. Oh well — I haven’t been completely turned off from this author, so maybe Bouchet’s next effort will work for me better.

  5. Oh no! I am so sorry to hear that the last book was a dissapointment for you. I have the first book of this series and I still haven’t read it, despite all the raving reviews. Thanks for sharing your honest review!

    1. I gotta say, despite how disappointing I found this finale to be, I still think the first book is a lot of fun. It might be worth it to just read that one, if you’re still into it! You can always count on me to call ’em like I see ’em, Karen. 😉

  6. Goodness – that one really didn’t work out which is such a shame. It’s so disappointing when a series doesn’t live up to the initial promise.
    Lynn 😀

  7. Ha ha – I love the special snowflake icon. And unfortunately there is nothing more true about this book – which really saddens me. I mean, Cat was so kickass in the first book – why did she have to make her even more all powerful??? It’s not like being able to suck up magic and use it back wasn’t something amazing, was it? Yet powers kept on manifesting!

    The scenes with all of Beta team were just the best. But this book didn’t have enough of them.

    Guilt induced meltdowns aplent.y 🙁 As you say, once or twice would have been fine but sheesh. That point was hammered home way too hard.

    And YES! Alpha Fisa… What the heck happened? Especially after she beat them so badly every other time.. Now in her own home???

    And Kato. My poor, poor Kato. Unfortunately the first book was the best and then the series slowly went downhill until we had a landslide into this book. I was so sad and upset.

    But THANK YOU for an in depth and honest review and sorry for writing such a HUGE comment! Like a review in and of itself! :p

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