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Book CoverTabs’ review of Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, Book 2) by Amanda Bouchet
Fantasy Romance published by Sourcebooks Casablanca 3 Jan 17

I loved the first book in this series because it was so damn fun to read. Unfortunately, this second entry went in the opposite direction and is completely devoid of any and all fun. A by-the-numbers-quest, a borderline abusive hero, and rape used as a plot device sink this sequel.

This story picks up just a few days after A Promise of Fire left off with Cat recuperating in bed from a near-fatal stabbing and contemplating telling Griffin all of her insane secrets. Alas, coming up with a plan won’t be necessary because Griffin’s discovered her secrets from another party and is royally pissed off. This, only a page into the book, is where the story lost me.

I’m generally a fan of the over-bearing alpha hero who learns to relax the reins a bit, and I thought that was done well in the first book. Emotional abuse, however, is a hard line for me and I feel like Griffin crosses it here. He also grossly overreacts, considering he already knew she had major secrets. They had just made vows to each other, and she had told him she was almost ready to confide in him. So he discovers everything off screen, bursts into their room to scream at her, and then destroys the room with her in it? That’s not hero material to me. That’s abusive shithead material. I mean, she has to leap out of the bed (while still recovering from a stab wound!) because he draws his sword and then smashes it in two. I find this whole thing very triggering and no amount of apologies or declarations of love could fix it.

From this lovely opening volley, Cat and Griffin proceed to make up, gather Beta Team, and formulate a plan. They decide to go on the offensive and attack the most vulnerable of the other two realms. To do so, they first need to go on a quest to get magical creatures to help guard their border. This quest takes up the bulk of the book. Unfortunately, it’s also very prescribed and regimented. Basically, Cat and company go to the gods for help, are given all of the tools they’ll need, told exactly where to go and what to do, and then they go and do it. This doesn’t make for a super exciting adventure, I’m afraid.

This is also where the most problematic aspect of the story rears its head. One of the prescribed quest points involves a member of the team being raped by a goddess’ handmaiden in order to move the quest along. There’s no choice in the matter. He can either submit or the quest fails. There’s no grey area, here. There’s just rape. As a reader, this made me see red. I don’t like when women’s rapes are used to motivate heroes and move the plot along. Rape as a plot device is not okay.

I flat out hated this book and was so angry by the time I finished it. I can’t remember the last time a series soured so hard for me so fast. I feel like Bouchet took a promising story and made one bad decision after another with it. I will not be continuing with this series.

Grade: F


“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a girl to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or not at all.

No excerpt available.

Other books in this series:
Book Cover