Heart of Fire
by Kristen Painter
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Smashwords (or buy for Kindle)
What I Liked:
Oh, wow. Wow, wow, wow. This is quite possibly the best fantasy romance I've ever read. Definitely the best one I've read recently, and I can only think of one that might compare--even come close--to the level of this book. The writing is phenomenal, the plotting excellent, the world-building exquisite, the character development proficient, and the sexual tension... oh, wow. And we're back to the wow-ing again. I just can't help it.
I don't generally say "go out and buy this book, now", because I'm never quite sure if other readers have my same tastes. But if you haven't bought this book by the time you read this review, then you must go and buy it now. It has the most delicious love story, the most unique hero, the most engaging heroine... wow. This book, I will read again. I'm transferring it to my Kindle, and I'm going to reread it very soon.
I hope, on a side note, that Kristen Painter continues to write in this world. The level of detail in her worldbuilding is just fantastic. It's hard to find a fantasy book that doesn't feel a little bit old and tired, because when it's been done well before, it's really hard to reinvent without making the reader think "I liked that better in _(insert book title here)_". But I didn't think that in this book. Not even once. The fantasy elements were original and engaging enough that, while I was aware of other fantasy books from having read them, I wasn't wishing she'd done things differently in her world-building. That's important when you write fantasy, I can't even explain how important that is. And when it's well done, it just makes for such enjoyable reading. Not to mention the fact that the love story is so poignant and beautiful.
Really, this is going on my favorites list immediately. I can't wait for more books in this world to come out by Kristen Painter. If you haven't bought it yet, especially if you like fantasy romance, seriously, it's amazing.
Eager to find her place in the world and understand the frightening gifts she’s been born with, Jessalyne Brandborn aches to leave her sheltered life behind and take on the job that's been promised to her. Apprentice to the most powerful sorceress in Shaldar, the king’s magewoman. Even if traveling to Castle Ryght means keeping company with the deadliest man in the realm to get there.
On the run, dark elf Ertemis Elta-naya doesn’t want to escort firemage Jessalyne any more than he wants the Legion to catch up with him. He just wants to vindicate his mother’s life before the price on his head results in a knife at his throat. Or in his back. Life as a mercenary has taught him to strike first and ask questions later.
And yet, within them lies the hope of the dying elven race, the renewal of Shaldar's beleaguered kingdom and an incredible chance at love. If they don't kill each other first.