The Fire Lord’s Lover by Kathryne Kennedy. Bland, Over-reaching Fantasy/Alternate History Romance.
Dominic Raikes is a half-elven bastard. His father is Mor’ded, one of seven elven lords who have divvied up England. Each lord fields an an army and Dominic is the general of his father’s forces. He is powerful, wielding influence over various forms of fire. But he is not powerful enough to overthrow or really even threaten his father.
Lady Cassandra is Dominic’s fiance. She has been schooled in a convent and raised to be the pure bride of Mor’ded’s champion. Her duty is to provide the elven lord a champion to replace Dominic when he has outlived his usefulness. Cass has other goals. She has been suborned by the Resistance and trained as an assassin. Her true purpose is to get close enough to Mor’ded to kill him.
Kennedy sets up two different stories. One is the romance between Dominic and Cassandra. The other is a grand fantasy epic wherein the human rebellion seeks to throw off their oppressors. Neither story is served well. Dominic has supposedly suppressed his emotions so that he is incapable of affection or attachment. Despite this he is head over heels in love with Cass within a day of marrying her. Instead of enlisting her in his scheme to hide his affection for her from his father, he’s just an overbearing jerk whenever they are in public.
Cass is set up to be a highly trained killer. When she gets to court and actually has to interact with people she turns into a complete ninny. She is all hurt feelings and self doubt, with no self possession or confidence. She is totally caught up in her feelings for Dominic and her embarrassment at being rejected by most of Court.
If the tyranny of Mor’ded had been the main obstacle the book would have been more cohesive. The romantic plot distracted from the rebellion, which was far more interesting. As it was, all the action was rushed and the plot points were touched upon perfunctorily. Dominic and Cass fell in love instantly because that’s what the author wanted. It did not flow naturally as part of their character arcs. The whole romance was forced: No buildup, no growing affection, just ice cold to head over heels in five pages because I need you to want to help each other out in two chapters.
The Fire Lord’s Lover was a lackluster read. It had promise but the author had too much going on to do fully develop any part of the story.