I’ve always thought the very best stories, the very, very best, are ones where you find yourself lost in your own head and imagination while reading, ones that give you the feeling that you can actually see the sights and hear the sounds and reach out and practically touch the characters. Where you almost feel like you are a part of the story. They are the ones that give you all the feels. They hold you spellbound while reading, to the point where you almost don’t want to put your book down and come back to the real world until you’ve gotten to the end and read the last word. L.H. Cosway’s words always do that to me. She is an amazing storyteller. Her worlds and characters are so unique and vibrant that once I crack open the first page I find myself fascinated. I have to know what makes her protagonists tick, why they are the way they are. I need to see them find closure or love or acceptance. You might find this strange, but even her contemporaries feel like fantasy, they are magical. There is always an air of mystery to them, at least to me. Hearts of Fire is her newest offering and in my opinion, her best book to date.
All my life I felt like I’d been living in quiet desperation. Following my mother’s rules and biding my time, waiting for the moment when I could finally break free.
Lille is an artist who is floundering under her powerful mother’s thumb. She wants to break free, to have adventures and not walk the straight line. She even has a list of things she hopes to carry out. Things like: get a tattoo, have sex with a stranger and visit a place I’ve never been before. But it’s not until the circus comes to town that she actually becomes brave enough to take a risk. How many times have you wanted to run away from it all and live another life? Lille does just this when she makes the decision to use her skill with a paintbrush and paint faces in the Circus Spektakular. This is also where she meets Jack McCabe, fire-breather and knife-thrower.
“Skin is important, Lille. Some marks last forever. You have to decide if their worth it.”
Jack fascinates Lille from the moment she sets eyes on him. Tall, dark, dangerous and scarred, she can’t seem to get him out of her head. He’s not even really nice to her at first and she’s not sure what to make of the attention he does show her. In fact he warns her away from joining traveling circus, but for the first time in her life Lille has freedom and she revels in it. She is mesmerized by the colors and sounds of the people she meets and places she visits. She even decides to reach out and offer friendship to the one man who seems to need it most.
I wanted to wash away that shame, show him that though things could be born in darkness, with the right person you could make them light.
For those of you not familiar with Ms. Cosway’s work, Jack McCabe is the long-lost brother of Jay Fields from Six of Hearts. He’s had a rough life, which began even before he was severely burned in a house fire that killed both his parents. He is distrustful and maybe even a tad bit angry, but he desperately needs the friendship that Lille offers. Their romance is laid out beautifully as Lille slowly let’s go of her innocence and accepts the darker parts of Jack’s needs, while Jack begins to trust the new light in his life. Lille is in awe of her new life, at the same time Jack knows the dangers and wants to protect her, even if that is from himself and what he craves from her. There is a feeling of lust at first sight, but I think the falling in love was given the exact amount of time to build and grow. The chemistry and tension between these two practically jumps off the page as they fall deeper into friendship and passion. Even the ‘darker’ part of Jack’s sexuality was tastefully done and wasn’t in any way over the top.
They are surrounded by a colorful cast of characters who add richness to their romance, while giving life to the circus that serves as a backdrop. Everything about this book was magical. Every description, every character and every scene. I felt like I was walking through the circus and petting the lions. Or watching Jack spew fire across the stage. I could envision Lille painting a picture of the big top while Jack rested and read nearby. It all came together beautifully when Jay walked back on the page and found his brother again. And the ending… guys the ending was gorgeous. I can’t recommend this book enough. It really was that good. Final Grade- A+
“It’s a masterpiece.” he said finally. “I love how you see me. It makes me feel like I can be the man in the painting.”
“You are the man in the painting, Jack.”