Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Cursed by Fire

Cursed by Fire (Immortal Brothers #1)

by Jacquelyn Frank


From New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank comes the scorching hot first book in a thrilling new series featuring four warrior brothers who have the power—and the curse—of immortality.
 For centuries, Dethan has been trapped in a fiery inferno for defying the gods and snatching the power of immortality. Condemned to have his battle-hardened body licked by flames only to regenerate and be consumed all over again, Dethan has lost all hope—until the Goddess of Conflict appears. She will release him from torment—if he’ll use his power and strength as a warrior to raise an army and defeat a fierce enemy faction of gods.
 Free to live as a man once again, Dethan meets Selinda—heir to the throne of Hexis—and his thoughts quickly turn from the conquest of cities to the conquest of this headstrong beauty. Betrothed to a cruel, calculating powermonger, Selinda needs a champion, and so Dethan enters into another bargain: If she will share her bed—and her body—with him, Dethan will save her city from destructive forces within and without. As the lovers ignite a searing passion, Dethan will risk all—even the wrath of the Goddess of Conflict—for a chance to make Selinda his forever.
Themes: paranormal, alternate reality
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Ok well that was certainly an …. Interesting… story.  I have read everything ever written by Jackie Frank, from her nightwalkers series to any number of smaller series and stand alone novels, but I must say that this new world she has created was definitely the strangest and the story itself was very Greek saga-esque. While I can’t say I loved this story, I did enjoy the plot and many of the characters were interesting, but for me the story lacked the level of passion and greatness I have come to expect from this author.  I can say with all certainty that I will be reading the next book in the series, but if this story had been written by anyone other than one of my favorite authors I would be reluctant to continue.  This story contained so much world building and setting up of the culture, that there didn’t seem to be enough time for the emotions of the characters to develop.  It was one of those stories that would have fit right in during Victorian England, but with a strangely alien twist.  All-in-all I think the series has great promise and hopefully book two will see a return of the passion and connection of the characters that I wanted. 
Dethan is being punished by the gods for his hubris in assuming that he could give himself and his brothers the gift of immortality and his suffering isn’t so much at and end as being compressed into a shorter time of each day.  He has been granted a reprieve by his patron goddess so that he can conquer in her name and give her back the power she needs in the war of the gods.  The first day of his reprieve he finds himself swept into the intrigue and drama of the local monarchy, and in lust with the Princess Selinda, who intrigues him and leads him into dangerous thoughts of staying with her.  Selinda sees in Dethan a savior and a chance for her to get out of under the thumb of the evil “vizier”, would I guess be the best term, but she know she’ll have to sacrifice to keep him around and find a way to entice him to take on her mission.  It will come down to choices for these two and only the trust that develops between them will make their enemies vulnerable and defeatable, and when the battle is won they have to come to a decision about their future that could tear them apart or ultimately win them their freedom to live and love together. 
Dethan was an ass; let’s just get that out there.  While I can honestly say that he had his reasons to be angry with the gods, his manipulations of the people around him and stubbornness to change his methods and reasons made me want to beat him over the head, often.  He enters into an agreement to protect and defeat in Selinda’s name, but at the same time he is blind to the danger he is putting her in.  Even as his mind for war leads him to an obvious defeat against their enemies, these same thoughts keep him from truly understanding the connection between Selinda and himself and the importance of her in his life.  It just takes him entirely too long to wizen up, and this puts Selinda in the unique position of becoming her own white knight.  For me Dethan was one of those characters I just never came to understand or care for, but Selinda on the other hand was a heroine I could love.  Selinda is a true dichotomy, working behind the scenes of her world to try to make her people’s lives better even when it puts her into immediate and deadly danger, but at the same time she is completely under the thumb of the men around her and often is forced to be submissive to them to keep her alive.  I can easily see how that repression could make a woman do something reckless to find a way to escape the hell she finds herself in.  Her life has definitely not been a cake walk, with her family mysteriously dying all around her, her father becoming oblivious to the plight of not only his people, but his own daughter, and the torture at the hands of the man who would be her husband.  When she makes the daring choice to offer anything he desires to Dethan for his help, there is no way she can truly see the outcome of those choices?  But as her true strength becomes more and more apparent, we begin to understand that she is the true star of this story and will be the one to ultimately save herself and her monarchy, even if she has given her heart to Dethan. 

Ok so I have to say I have read several other reviews that said this book was horrible, and I guess if all you’ve ever read by Jackie is her Nightwalkers series, you might be a bit disappointed and lost in the way she presents her new worlds, but having read several different series by her and seeing all the different worlds that she is able to create from her imagination, I was more than happy with the story and world building, if a bit let down by the hero himself. The world has many parallels to different time periods of our own world and if you have made a study of the past you can easily see how well the story meshes them together, while presenting us with unique twists and alien differences.  But Jackie’s writing ability keeps it from being too strange for me so I find those reviews were unfair, mainly because though they share an author, it is unjust to compare two such different series. 
So my honest opinion is that this story was pretty darn good and I am looking forward to the stories of the other brothers.  The premise of the story is very Greek tragedy, which gives me a familiar home to come to in my mind as the plot unfolds.  Dethan could have used a bit more spine for my personal reading pleasure, but sometimes the characters just don’t feel the same to one reader as they do to another, or even to the author.  He was intelligent, quick thinking, honorable and sensual, my biggest problem was that he was a bit emotionally stunted and took too long to understand the importance of his connection to Selinda and the redemption that connection could offer him.  Selinda however is one of the great heroines to me, strong willed but able to temper her outbursts, dedicated to her people and determined to keep them safe, and willing to give her all for a way to bring down the evil that is festering within her own house.  The passion between the characters was fiery and intense, even while the emotions seemed a bit one-sided (my biggest issue with Dethan revised) and seeing the way that Selinda uses that passion to find her inner strength was fabulous.  Overall I was kept interested in the story because of Selinda and her battles, both internal and external, and of course my desire to see the villain get his ass kicked—literally and figuratively.  I am reserving judgment on the entire series at least until I get through the next book, but I can see a lot of promise and am hoping that Garreth, whose book is next, will be the hero that I need to reinforce my love of this author.   So my advice, give the story a chance and ignore that negative reviews that you might read, sometimes your feelings on a book can surprise even you.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

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