So on a scale of having your liver repeatedly ripped out by an eagle for all eternity to being the ruler of Mount Olympus, reading this book surpassed even the mighty, lightning-wielding Zeus. This book was freakin’ awesome.
*Minor spoilers abound after this point*
It was particularly awesome because I had absolutely no idea what it was about when I first decided I wanted to read it, which meant I was so utterly surprised, multiple times, as I read it. I’m not sure who shared it or what, but I was just perusing through Twitter one afternoon and I saw the cover. That’s it. I didn’t read whatever the person wrote about it and didn’t know if it was a new release (hint: it sorta is). I just saw the cover. It had a woman who looked like a major BAMF (and I am always drawn to major BAMF-ing females) and it mentioned fire.
I didn’t need anything else.
So I put the book on hold and got it from the library a few weeks later. Never once did I even look at the back and see anything about what this book was about. I just dove right in. And I think that made it just 20 times more epic that it naturally already was. I was thrown into a world that I wasn’t prepared for: a world where magic is both common and feared; a world dripping with familiar mythology–that was also made new–that seriously skyrocketed my excitement levels; a world where I related to the characters, became so attached their humor and got so invested in what was going to happen next.
And then I think I discovered my greatest surprise, diving in with complete ignorance: it’s a romance. A gloriously steamy, tempting, dangerous-level-swoon-worthy romance (hint: do not read the last 60 pages whilst waiting for your car to get repaired. I repeat: DO NOT). Also, I know what you’re thinking: Nicole, the blurb on the cover even says, “fantasy romance at its finest,” but I didn’t even read that. I was so blind. Oh so totally blind.
Cat, our brilliant heroine rocking the front cover, was someone who I empathize with and also someone I wanted to throw against a wall and shake some sense into her. If Griffon was making those sort of advances on me…*fans self* Granted, I understood her rationale, but still, if you aren’t interested, dearie, please move along, because some of us have been waiting patiently over here!
Anyway, romantic feelings over a fictional character aside, I love romance novels. I love being able to pretend to have a love life by living vicariously through these characters (which also explains why I got so angry with Cat because she has what I want). Yet I’ve read very few romance novels or authors where I become as equally interested in other aspects of the books (political schemes, for example) as I do waiting for the next steamy scene to make my breath catch. Bec McMaster is one author who comes to mind where I’m equally invested in all aspects that make up her steampunk London.
And it would appear that Amanda Bouchet is now another.
I loved the magic involved. I am so invested in all of the characters, both from the circus and from Griffon’s group and his family. I loved the Greek mythology. Ohmygosh, did I love it. I loved Cat’s spunk and her attitude and her abilities and how she struggled against becoming “one of the guys,” so to speak, and loved it as she finally embraced it. I was just as concerned with Cat fitting in with the royal family and the drama with the healing centers as I was enthralled at every passionate kiss Cat and Griffon experienced. I never skimmed through the sections that weren’t steamy, like I’ve done with a few regency romances in my day (sorry about that…).
My only complaint falls in line with the ending–and it’s probably because I thought the book was longer than it actually was, as it included that first chapter from the next book, thus tricking me into a false comfort of more pages, more action, more answers and instead I turn the page, see that it is about to end, say, “What the fmfsnsinf,” aloud in front of two old ladies who are also reading beside me in the waiting room at the car dealership and am forced to meet their glares as I interrupted their own bliss. I properly blushed, sunk further into my chair and then finished reading the last page, stewing in anger silently that it was over and I have to wait until January to read the next installment. It was not okay to end it there. I have questions.
*slips back into a stew of anger while staring at her calendar, waiting for the New Year to roll around…slowly…ever slowly…*