Author: Daisy Whitney
Length: 288 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
A forbidden romance literally heats up in this new fantasy from acclaimed author Daisy Whitney.
Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes the chance to get away from her family. But her power is fading too fast to keep stealing from the sky. She has no choice but to turn to a Granter—a modern day genie. She gets one wish at an extremely high price. Aria’s willing to take a chance, but then she falls in love with the Granter . . . and he wants his freedom. Aria must decide what she’s willing to bargain and how much her own heart, body, and soul are worth.
In a world where the sport of elemental powers is the most popular form of entertainment, readers will be swept away by a romance with stakes higher than life and death.
Protagonist: Aria steals fire from the sky. She does this because it's the only way to keep her family together. However the process to take the fire isn't always reliable and after she's transferred to big leagues for her elemental artistry she needs to find a more sustainable and long lasting solution to her problem. The only other way to achieve a fire artist's abilities other than being born with it or taking it from the sky is to find a Granter and wish for the ability. However all Granter's require a price, is Aria willing to pay hers? I actually really liked the character of Aria, she isn't resigned to a single trope or stereotype, instead she comes off as a very realistic character, she cares about her family, her friends, and it's her protectiveness that leads her every move in this book. Over the course of this book Aria gets even stronger becomes a more fully developed character.
Romance: Going into this book, I felt that a large majority of it would focus on the romance, and with this being a fairly short standalone, I didn't find that unreasonable. However, there is very little of this book, comparatively, that focuses on the romance. Another thing I'm going to stick in here, I know that the synopsis is usually written by the publisher and not the author so I won't take any stars off for it, but this isn't a forbidden romance, at least not in the traditional sense. There are aspects to the romance that if you squint hard enough could be called forbidden, but the romance itself isn't. Anyway, my biggest problem is that since this is a standalone, the "L" word is going to inevitably come up, and my deal is; if it feels earned by the time the words come out, sure I'll roll with it and if not then hey they're just kids it's not like it's true love. However by the time it comes up, since there isn't all that much romance beforehand and this book is so short, it doesn't feel earned, I was actually hoping that the author would find a way to not even have to use the word love when describing these characters feelings but alas it just didn't feel right.
World-Building: If you get to the halfway point of this book, you'll probably feel that while there is a decent amount of world-building there isn't a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but hey, it's a standalone so there doesn't need to be an abundance of world-building. The things is though, that in the back half of this book there's a lot more world-building to discover. I'm not necessarily angry at the abundance of world-building, more that with as much as there was, I could have easily seen this book become a series. I felt like with all that we learned in the back half, it wouldn't be very hard at all to extend some things, add some things and develop the world and characters just a bit more and then there would be plenty of content for more book set in this world. Again, I'm not mad that the world is so complex by the end of the story, I'm more just a bit disappointed that there was a missed opportunity.
Predictability: This book was actually really unpredictable. There was a fair amount of foreshadowing, some that it was easy to tell that, while I may not know how that will pop up again, I'm sure it will, and some that I didn't even realize until it was too late that it was important. There was even some misleading foreshadowing that made it seem like something was a big deal or that it would make a larger impact later, only for it to sort of not come to a head. Overall I really enjoyed the unpredictability of this book, of course there were a few times when I was able to catch onto things before they were revealed, but you kind of want that in a book, you don't want to feel like the author totally pulled the wool over your eyes, or at least I don't.
Ending: The ending of this book was really weird. Like I said before with so much world-building introduced toward the end of this book, I could have easily seen it becoming a series, and toward the end there was a perfect place for a crazy cliffhanger ending. However since this is a standalone it moves on past that to tie things up at the end so that there are no loose ends. I did really enjoy the way things turned out, and I didn't necessarily think they were rushed or squeezed together in an awkward way, but at the same time, it just feels off. I can't quite put my finger on what but while it didn't feel rushed it sort of felt a bit too convenient maybe. Regardless, I enjoyed the ending, but there was just something about it that didn't completely sit right with me.
On the whole I really enjoyed this story. It is a little bit of a slow start, the romance should have been given more page time and been developed a lot more, and there were a few parts in the book that were a tad confusing, but in the end I really enjoyed the world and the characters and look forward to what's next from this author.