A Fire In Heaven
There were enough good things and bad things about A Fire in Heaven that balanced this book out to a perfect C for me. While some of the characterizations were well done, others weren’t. And while the book starts and ends well, there’s too much padding inbetween.
Kira Scottney is the bastard child of Nicholas Scottney and a gypsy/circus woman. Nick has decided to acknowledge Kira and invites her to England to become part of the family. It’s a good thing Kira has been acknowledged because her mother and the most of the circus have perished in a fire. Once in England, Kira is forced to take a variety of lessons she hates in order to become a lady. On the way to one of her father’s estates, she literally runs into Damien Sharpe, who hates the Scottneys because they ruined his life. Of course there’s an immediate attraction between them both. Unfortunately, all of the Scottney family thinks Damien murdered his wife, Rachelle Scottney, Kira’s cousin, and got away with the crime.
Kira is the best thing about this book. She is forthright, sees through her father’s manipulations as well as those of the too friendly neighbor, Rolf. She has a chimpanzee for a pet – another unique characteristic. She’s also very sympathetic to animals and likes to have fun. I liked her very much.
A Fire in Heaven is a very intense book, mainly because Damien is a very intense man. Dark and Brooding should be his middle names. The descriptions in the book add to the dark and intense feeling. There’s a lush, almost jungle-like forest where Damien and Kira meet occasionally, and the author describes it beautifully. Also, the character of Kira’s father is well done. He has genuine affection for his daughter, and he’s fairly honest about his emotions and motivations, especially when Kira catches him manipulating her. To his credit, he does come through for her in the end.
The two things I didn’t like were the villain of the story and the assumptions of Damien’s guilt by almost everyone in the book. The villain is described at the end as sad and pitiful. Well, he’s not. Envy and delusion really aren’t pitiable characteristics. Also, the villain is never portrayed through the rest of the book as remotely sympathetic. Actually, he’s rather obnoxious and I was unable to drum up an ounce of sympathy for him. Maybe if the author had shown him to be a nice character with just flashes of obnoxiousness, he would have been more sympathetic at the end. The automatic assumption by everyone of Damien’s guilt borders on the ridiculous when a body is found and though Damien is nowhere near, everyone assumes the murderer is Damien. Why? No one else is capable of killing?
Also, the basic plot – dark brooding man under a cloud of suspicion – is kind of tired, but to Carter’s credit it held my interest until about half way through. The end scenes were good, though, and I confess that I skipped ahead to read them (don’t worry, I went back and read the rest). While the reasons for the murders and the villain were fairly generic, the scenes were still well-done. The book was too long though – I can take dark and intense only up to a point. If A Fire In Heaven had been cut by about a quarter, it would have been much better. So while I don’t highly recommend this book, it’s still readable and you could do worse.