Review: Born in Fire by K.F. Breene (2017)

Fire and Ice Trilogy, Book 1

Heat Factor: No sex, but some very explicit moments of “we are very very ready to bone”

Character Chemistry: Lots of mistrust, but they are stuck with each other

Plot: Vampires vs mages plus inscrutable magic politics with a high body count

Overall: Too much snark

I bet you can’t believe that I, who has not written a single review that 100% snark-free, said that a book is too snarky. But… it is. Reagan, our Heroine / Narrator, has an attitude, and while that can be endearing, here’s it just too much. Because she never turns the attitude off. So she doesn’t just mouth off to the readers as she narrates the events, but also constantly mouths off to everyone around her, whether the situation warrants it or not.

Reagan has some powerful magic, involving fire and the ability to identify and nullify spells cast by others. She has inherited this magic from her elusive and mysterious father, and she wants to keep him mysterious and elusive. So she operates alone, specifically so that no one can figure out what exactly she is. Regan uses her unique set of skills to operate as a freelance magical bounty hunter. Basically, some magical creature or witch or whatever is acting up and she brings them in. With you so far.

But then some vampires want to hire her to find someone, which involves her being forced to work in partnership with this extremely attractive and powerful vampire named Darius because reasons. The logic behind this whole partnership is extremely murky, but ok, we’ll go with it.

Then there’s a very boring section where the Secret of the Vampires is revealed to her and she and Darius wander around in the Land of Magic and other vampires try to kill her to test her skills (???) and this relates to the main story somehow. The slowness of the first half is exacerbated by the unevenness of the world-building – there are lots of magical creatures running around and Breene doesn’t provide a lot of context. Generally I’m cool with being thrown into a world and figuring things out (I’ve read basically everything by China Miéville, whose books result in readers saying things like: “Oh, now there are apparently cactus people”), but in this case it’s just confusing. Plus there’s a lot of magic politics going on that is alluded to but not developed, which also slows down the pace.

Anyways, things really get going when Reagan meets some kooky old mages who are also extremely powerful and cast excellent spells (Dinosaur Distraction Spell trumps Harry Potter any day!) and are also funny without being overly snarky. These mages get her a new magic sword and reveal that they know the Deep Dark Secret of her parentage and are therefore useful allies.

The second half clips along at a good place as Reagan and Darius and the Kooky Mages figure out what’s going on with the rogue mage they’re tracking and work to bring down a burgeoning mage army. Lots of fighting, high body count, not a lot of gory details about the ways people die.

One thing I did appreciate in terms of world building is the fact that vampires have two forms. They have their human form, which is just human, but hot:

No period clothing, sadly

But then, when they want to fight, they turn into their true vampire form, ie, swamp monster with fangs and long claws:

Except maybe uglier

Now, because I’m all about reviewing things as romance novels, let’s drill down on the relationship between Reagan and Darius. They are forced to work together, though neither is particularly thrilled by the situation. They don’t particularly care for each other, which leads to some banter, but mainly, Reagan does not trust this dude! And everyone around her is like: don’t trust this dude, he’s a vampire! Vampires are not trustworthy!

However, they are also definitely attracted to each other on a primal level. Darius is hot, because he’s a vampire. Reagan’s blood smells delicious, because of her special magic inherited from her mysterious and elusive dad. No matter how attractive Darius is, though, Reagan definitely does not want him to bite her, mainly because then he’d have power over her, no matter how awesome and sexy the experience would be.  So they have a couple of moments where they do some dry humping and making out and then Reagan is like AGH, must regain self control! And then Darius is like, “what is this consent you speak of?”. And then she shoots him in the leg so he’ll stop trying to coerce her into having sex / sharing her tasty tasty blood.

Basically, Darius sucks. Literally and figuratively. But since Reagan is annoying, maybe they deserve each other?

Buy Now: Amazon

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