Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #17: Cold Fire

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #17: Cold FireCold Fire by Kate Elliott
Series: Spiritwalker #2
Published by Orbit on September 26, 2011
Genres: Alternate History, Epic Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 652
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Only one thing is certain: when Hallows' Night comes, the Wild Hunt will ride - and it feeds on mortal blood.

Cat and her cousin Bee are caught in a maze of intrigue, treachery, and magic. Everyone seems to want something from them: the Cold Mages are trying to take them prisoner, and the warlord who wants to conquer all of Europa seems sure they have a special destiny to aid him whether they want to or not. Worse, hidden powers deep in the spirit world are rising, and they are the most dangerous of all. Cat must seek allies and figure out who she can trust in order to save the ones she loves. For if she doesn't, everything will be lost.

Recommended by: Nafiza of Bibliophilic Monologues

First Sentence: “It was a cursed long and struggling walk hauling two heavy carpetbags stuffed with books across the city of Adurnam.”

You know what I love? A series that just gets better and better as it goes along. Cold Magic had a rocky start, and took a couple hundred pages before I really started enjoying it. Cold Fire caught my interest right away, amping up to a finale that stomped on my heart and made me need to read book three posthaste. The Spiritwalker Trilogy boasts one of my favorite romances, and I’m going to need to fangirl about the feels.

Know that there’s totally a lot more going on in Cold Fire than romance, but that I’m mostly going to blabber on about that, because, being totally honest here, THAT is what I care about most. BY FAR. I make no secret of the fact that I burn for hate to love romance arcs, and this one is SO well done. Gah. There’s a very Pride & Prejudice sort of emotional arc that just makes me swoon. When they meet, Vai is dismissive of Catherine, which is all sorts of awkward, since they’re forced to marry at the beginning of the first book. However, you find out that he’s just sort of awkward and makes disdainful faces when he’s uncomfortable, but that he actually really cares for her. Cat, on the other hand, does not forgive or trust easily, so she has little interest in Vai for most of Cold Magic.

In Cold Fire, my ship finally takes sail, and, oh my, was it ever glorious. There’s also a sort of vaguely Tamora Pierce-ian element to the romance, wherein Cat has a dalliance with someone else. Even though I ship them so hard, I loved this, because in some ways it was needful. There’s just something so freeing about the heroine making her own choices and being more informed. And, yes, technically it was adultery, but they were forced to wed, so that doesn’t bother me in this instance.

Once Vai and Cat are together again, the sexual tension is something fierce. They have crazy amounts of chemistry, and Vai is being such a freaking sweetheart. He KNOWS she hooked up with someone else, and he’s still so understanding even though she’s technically his wife. He keeps feeding her all of this delicious fruit, and omg it’s so hot I can’t even. Plus, these two and their banter. Oy, it’s fantastic. She’s under a bit of a curse thing where she’s not allowed to impart certain information, so she has to respond to certain questions with questions, which sort of becomes a flirty banter thing for them and I love it so much. Yes, I do realize I’m a bit incoherent, but GOD I LOVE THEM. Vai loves her for her spirit and strength and the fact that she can be so damn stubborn, and just LOVE.

Obviously, I would rate the romance a full five glorious stars, but, despite those feels, I feel like Elliott’s still getting a hang of the pacing and plotting. Parts of the book do drag (like when Vai and Cat are not together duh), and it feels like not all that much is actually happening for a lot of the book. The plotting really does pick up towards the end, when Elliott decides to wreak havoc on my emotional state, but the rest felt like a really long way to get there, not that it was not worth it for Vai and Cat.

The world herein is quite lush, but I still don’t entirely understand its underpinnings, though I vaguely remember it was some sort of alternate history spun off from Roman times, I think. What I love is how diverse the characters are, many of them mixed race. There are a lot of messages about cultural sensitivity, which is great.

While I think this series has some drawbacks, for me, it’s ONE HUNDRED PERCENT worth the slow moments for the epic ship of Cat and Vai. I am all kinds of glad that I sort of neglected to read this review copy for a shameful amount of time, because I would have HATED waiting for book three to come out, because THAT ENDING.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Catherine, I promise you, no one will ever make you feel as good as I will.’
As the djeli said, “Men act humble until they get what they want.” Although obviously the djeli who said that hadn’t met you. Anyway, wouldn’t a person of scientific inclination say that to verify such a statement I would need to make a significant number of comparative tests with other subjects?’
His eyes opened as at a shot. ‘No!’
‘Then I could never actually know.’
He pushed up onto one elbow, dislodging my head from its pleasant resting place, and brushed hair from my cheek. ‘You can’t possibly have any complaints.’
‘But I do.’
His hand stilled. ‘Name one.’
‘You’re talking.'”

Up Next:

The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, with the other books in the Lumatere Chronicles following as time permits. So freaking excited to read my first Marchetta ever. Let’s hope I love it! Thanks to Steph of Cuddlebuggery and Lynn for requesting it!

Want to tell me what to read? For more details, check this post.

12 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #17: Cold Fire”

  1. Ah, I knew you’d love this one! 🙂 What a fab review, Christina! I can’t wait to read Cold Steel as well. It’s on Netgalley, but my request has been pending for a month, so I have no hope to read it before its release. 🙁

  2. thebookwurrm says:

    I’m so glad you loved this. I loved the ship something fierce. Did you check out the author’s site for the sexy times that were not included in the book? I swooned and then some. Haha. I chose to wait for my preordered copy of the last one instead of requesting it on Net Galley. It just seems like reading the paper copy will be a better and richer experience. I hope the ending is epic.

  3. Soma Rostam says:

    Well,this sounds really good
    This is the first time I hear of this book and the author
    But looks good enough and i love romances that have a Pride and Prejudice feel to them
    GREAT review
    Your reader,

  4. Amy says:

    Is it bad that I have never heard of this series? It sounds good, but I don’t typically read a lot of books like this. Great review hon!!

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, no, I don’t think so. I’d not heard of it either, until I read the first one. There’s not much buzz for epic fantasy, aside from LOTR/Game of Thrones/Wheel of Time. Pretty much only when they get shows or movies. Haha.

  5. Amanda says:

    Yay I am so glad to read your positive review of Cold Fire! I think that it’s been a long enough time since I read Cold Magic that I’ll just wait until Cold Steel releases so I can read Cold Fire and Cold Steel back to back.
    My favorite part of the first book was actually Elliot’s worldbuilding and creation of this alternative history steampunk Victorian-era world. It’s so interesting (even if it did cause the first book to slow down from info-dumping and all. I liked Cat’s relationship with Vai, but even more than that I remember loving Cat’s relationship with Bee. I want all these things to be there in the final two books.
    Wonderful review! So glad you were able to enjoy the second book. (And it really is the best when two people you ship really get to come together in a satisfying way, I agree wholeheartedly.)

    • Christina says:

      Waiting is a good choice, I think. This one left off in a really tense place, not exactly a cliffhanger, but you know what the arc of the next book is going to be and want to get started.

      The world building confuses me. I never did figure out exactly what was going on in the first book, and, since she established it there, there was almost nothing here to help me.

      I think I did like her relationship with Bee in the first book, but now I’ve joined the camp of readers who find Bee intensely irritating. Haha.

  6. Lynn K. says:

    Must add this to list! Haven’t read a slow burn romance in awhile now. Might as well get a head start since book #3 is coming out soon. *___*

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