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December 8, 2017

Review: Fire's Kiss by Brittany Pate

by MK French

Embyr is a half fire demon and hides her heritage by running a tavern just outside of town. It's a lonely life, but she is safer this way than how she had grown up. Her peace is disturbed by reports of Death's Horsemen coming, and one of the hellhounds taking too much of an interest in her. His leader, Death himself, figures out Embyr's abilities and wants to use them in his war against Atrarius, the vampire that had killed his wife and turned his brother eight hundred years before.
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Fire's Kiss
November 2017; Fiery Seas Publishing
ebook (271 pages); paranormal romance
Fire's Kiss takes place in a high fantasy world, where magic, demons, vampires, and shapeshifters run rampant. As seems to be common in worlds like that, there is the everpresent threat of assault, violence, and death, especially to young women that live alone and don't have a "protector" of some kind. Many of these threats are leveled at Embyr throughout the novel, which I found more than a little annoying. Her friend Katrina hardly ever is threatened in such a way, possibly because she is described as a former assassin right away. Their friendship is brilliantly described in light touches and is wonderful to see. Katrina and Embyr truly care about one another, so it is perfectly in keeping with their characterization to risk life and limb for each other.

Embyr's relationship with Ryder is antagonistic from the first. This sets up the classic trope of enemies to lovers, which is always fun to read when it's done well. There's a lot of snark and back and forth between the two of them, and I enjoy that aspect of any relationship. Ryder points out his ability to best her physically a lot in the beginning, which is a bit off-putting, and Embyr's sass at that stage is at once believable and facepalm-worthy; with all the rumors of how dangerous Ryder is as the leader of Death's Horsemen, it seems like sheer lunacy to bait him the way that she does, even if she has nothing else left to lose. The tension in the beginning of the novel, between the rumors and the threat of death and torture definitely sets up a reason for Embyr and Ryder to be in close proximity, which of course leads to Embyr discovering more about Ryder than what the rumors tell.

Magic is generally handwaved through most of the novel, so there is more about weaponry and soldiers fighting. There are a number of action sequences, and Embyr certainly gives as good as she gets in them. They're very well done and vividly described, and I actually enjoyed them a lot more than some of the sex scenes.

The final quarter of the novel takes place six years after the events in the bulk of the book. Honestly, I found that a little jarring. The tone was different and would have likely worked better fleshed out as a sequel novel. There isn't enough information about the new characters mentioned to really get a sense of what is going on, and the relative isolation of the characters means that there is an awful lot of info dumping in the beginning of this section. It's not badly done, but it could have been done so much better if it was given as much detail and attention as the first three-quarters of the novel.

Buy Fire's Kiss at Amazon

Read an excerpt from chapter 4

“Are you done?” he asked. She nodded. “That was better. Your anger just might save your life.”
“Let me go,” she snapped.
He ignored her. “Your skin is so warm.”
“That happens when I get angry.” Embyr fidgeted, uncomfortable with the way he studied her face.
“Good. Use that.” He released her and stood.
Embyr climbed to her feet with as much dignity as she could muster, brushing her pants off. “What has Atrarius done to make you hate him so much?”
“He took someone from me.”
His expression never changed, but those cold eyes hardened just a bit. If she hadn’t spent years observing people in the tavern, she might have missed it altogether. Had she managed to find a crack in his fa├žade of Death?
“Who was it?” she asked softly, desperate to see if there might be a man hiding under that mask.
“It does not matter,” he replied. “It happened long ago.”
“How long?” Embyr prodded, unwilling to let this opportunity pass. Whatever happened to make him hate so fiercely had to be terrible.
“Eight hundred years.”
The reply startled her and Embyr took a step back, nearly falling over a chair. Her mind spun at the implication. She’d wrongly assumed he was merely human, that his immunity to fire was some odd effect of the hellhound shifter.
What a foolish mistake. All these years spent pretending to be human and she couldn’t even recognize when someone else was doing the same.
“You assumed the Horsemen chose a new Death when the old one died?” He chuckled at her nod. The sound lacked any sort of mirth and left her cold. “I am the same Death who has led the Horsemen since the moment of their birth and I have hunted Atrarius for the last eight hundred years.”
“What are you?” The roar of the fire nearly drowned out her words.
“A monster.”
He walked toward her, mask drawing her attention like never before. Gone was any hint of the man she thought she’d seen, replaced by a walking, talking nightmare. Embyr forced herself to meet his gaze and found a hatred there that ran deep, devoid of a gentler side to appeal to.
“Listen well, Embyr,” he said. “All the stories you’ve ever heard of the atrocities committed by the Horsemen were all me. Every single one. I do not deserve your pity. Give me your hate, your malice, for all the things I have done to make Atrarius look like a child. Do not forget for an instant that I am evil, and you may live to see the end of our association.”

About the author

Brittany Pate
Brittany Pate lives in Texas with her husband and son. She is a longtime lover of all things fantasy and romance. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys narrating audiobooks and drinking entirely too much coffee.

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Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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