Lille has spent her entire life living under her mother's thumb, friendless and craving adventure in Nowheresville, Ireland. So naturally when she gets the chance to run away with the circus, she takes it. But all is not quirky characters and crazy balloon animals in the Circus of Spectacularly Awkward Social Situations–the fire breather, Jack McCabe, keeps staring at her; one of the psycho trapeze artists has Lille in her jealous sights; and the circus itself is haunted by a murrrrrrrrderrrrrrrr. Will the sparks between Lille and Jack turn into a fire of passion? Will the murder no one really cares about be solved? Questions!
So, this book is basically Twilight. Jack stares at Lille constantly in the first quarter of the novel, follows her around and won't leave her alone, yet tells her she should stay away from him. Why? She doesn't want to know, she's too sweet and innocent. But while he manages not to lose control with other women, he just knows that with her, he will! And then she'll realize his horrifying secret (hint you don't need: burning people gets him off. He's a fire breather, for god's sake).
But then of course he does tell her, and Lille's like, "Oh, that's a little scary but I twust woo," and then she decides she likes getting hot wax poured on her, so. Hashtag tru luv.
In case you couldn't tell, I had some problems with Hearts of Fire. I actually almost DNF'd it in the beginning, but I forced myself to continue and was lured into a sense of complacency when the book picked up slightly after Lille joined the circus. By the end, though, I was wishing I'd listened to my instincts and moved on to something else before I'd wasted a good two weeks of my life on it.
The Twilight thing actually didn't bother me that much–I enjoy Twilight. What bothered me was the tons of telling-not-showing, the weirdo Captain Obvious statements, and the lack of plausibility and character development.
Let's take one example. After Lille joins the circus, she watches Jack feed the lions (why is he feeding them? Who knows) and thinks to herself, "The sight of such a strong, vital man feeding a strong, vital animal was kind of arousing in a strange way."
Uhg, Lille. First of all, everything seems to arouse you. It's kind of ridiculous. Secondly, I get the fact that this scene underscores Jack's masculinity without being hit over the head with it. JACK/LION=STRONG, VITAL. There's no need to be repetitive repetitive.
Thirdly, um what?
The entire book is filled with statements like that. "It was like masturbation for artists: draw the thing that turns you on." Pretty sure that's not how it works, but okay. Perhaps sentences like this were meant to be sexy but I'm not sure.
The point is, the writing was pretty damn shaky, but I was liking the story okay and Jack had his moments. Then around the 60% mark, Lille started really annoying me with her illogical reactions to deus-ex-machina plot developments. The book limped along for a while after that, until Jay Fields (hero of Six of Hearts and Jack's long-lost brother) showed up, at which point it completely stopped. The scene where Jay gathered the entire Circus Awkwardis together to reveal the killer was probably one of the most patience-trying scenes I've ever read in my life. It took me three days to force myself through it. And don't even get me started on the obvious setting up of King as Cosway's next romantic hero.
I still think Cosway's an excellent writer, but it feels like she's churning out books too fast to really consider her characters, work on the plot of each book, and polish up her writing. Like with Six of Hearts, Hearts of Fire is a story that seems like it had potential (although a lot less potential than Six of Hearts), but it was just slap-dashed together. And is it just me, or does it feel like Cosway's writing the same book over and over lately? Wasn't the hero of The Hooker and the Hermit also a closet BDSM-er? (Kidding, that wasn't a question. I know he was.)
I probably won't read Cosway's next book in this series, King of Hearts, unless by some miracle it happens to be better than Hearts of Fire. Maybe once Cosway finishes up this series she'll get back into her groove.
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