If you are sensitive about spoilers, please stop reading this review right now. Please shade your eyes and click your “back” button.
There. Anyone still with me?
There is no possible way I can describe Greenfire without telling you up front that two-thirds through the book the hero kills the hero. Or the villain kills the villain. Or possibly the other way around. Confused? I was, and still am.
Nazleen is the Liege of Hamloor, a country where some women are born to the old powers of the Cerecians and, with the exception of the ruling family, join the Sisterhood. Nazleen must produce a royal heir and selects Miklav, the Warrior Chief, as the sire. Miklav is unhappy about the political situation and very ambitious for himself, but is deeply attracted and attatched to Nazleen. Suddenly more advanced strangers are spotted approaching the borders. some of them appear to be male Cerecians – an impossibility. One of them is Zaktar, who forms a mental and spiritual bond with Nazleen without hardly meeting her.
The back blurb suggests Zaktar is the hero, but the “extract blurb” behind the cover describes an intimate scene between Nazleen and Miklav, sounding like any other semi-love scene involving an overbearing alpha male. Since overbearing-alpha-hero-forced-to-grovel is a guilty pleasure more potent than dark chocolate for me, I curled up to read, looking for nice traits and redeeming features in Miklav, as I would in any hero.
But, oh, how wrong I was! The strain between locals and foreigners heat up to the point of warfare. Zaktar, drawn by Nazleen’s presence, locates her and in a blind, jealous rush kills Miklav with the fire talents of Cerecians. Stunned Nazleen defends herself the same way, and is injured by Zaktar, to the point of having a misscarriage. In the last third of the book they are bonded by the fire and the male and female halves of the Cerecian race begin to reunite. Ta-da! The end.
So, there we have one hero who’s loyal to his country, nice to his family, forceful but not violent to Nazleen, and also very, very dead. Then we have another, outsider hero who believes in marriage, shares the old powers and just marches into the book to form an attachment with the heroine, while musing superciliously that some of her ideas “had to go.” But for the problem of him being dead, I would have voted for Miklav any day. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and Zaktar was intended as the hero and mate for Nazleen.
The confused state of the romance might have been compensated by thorough world-building and writing excellence. Unfortunately, the world in which heroine and hero(es) live is very lightly described, and the historical background for the male/female division is sketchy at best. If the romance of a story is strong that is fine. If the romance is found wanting, a television-studio setting does little to keep your emotions burning. Since I was focused on the story the writing flowed along for me, but purists might rail at a tendency to abrupt changes in view-point. From time to time contextual lapses occur, as when Nazleen’s age is given as 27, with an 8-year ruling experience, but she is later referred to as young and inexperienced. In these 8 years she has also overseen a literacy campaign which has been so effective it threatens her autocratic rule. Sound convincing to you?
This book had the makings of a decent futuristic. The premise is interesting, and it is a pleasant change to see the heroine not believing in relationships and commitments. But the uncertainty I felt about the identity of the hero – not to mention the fact that the guy who turns out to be the hero is nothing but a handsome bully – kept me from enjoying Greenfire as a romance novel. The storyline might work for me with some extensive polishing and rephrasing. The setting could have been interesting, if the author had invested a little more imagination in it, rather than paging through a copy of World Building for Dummies. But in the state the novel was published, I sincerely wish I had passed this one by.