Also posted as a guest review over at Paranormalhaven.com
Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series was my first foray into paranormal YA, and her books continue to be an autobuy for me to this day. The Fiery Heart is the 4th book within the Bloodlines series and features a dual point of view from both Sydney and Adrian. Truth be told, I like these books even more than the VA series probably because Sydney and Adrian were two of my favorite characters from the previous novels.
The book immediately picks up from where Indigo Spell ended. Sydney’s little sister, Zoe, has arrived on assignment to work as an apprentice and keep eyes on her sister (I’m inferring because this isn’t said in the summary – but it’s how Zoe’s presence reads to me). Sydney has to tread very carefully to keep her relationship with Adrian a secret from her sister along with the fact she’s no longer blindly taking orders from the Alchemists.
While I enjoyed reading Adrian’s point of view, I’m not sure that it was necessary or that it made the book that much better. With Indigo Spell, there’s a sense of urgency about what Sydney uncovers and reading solely from her point of view made her romance with Adrian seem all that much more intense. That fades quite a bit within The Fiery Heart, and I can’t reconcile if it’s because of the dual points of view, or that the intensity of the illicit romance has lessened because they now have come to terms with their feelings for one another.
I found the pacing issues problematic within the book. It seemed to take quite a while to get going, with Sydney working on how to break the magical tattoos that are used on the Alchemists and Adrian figuring out how to channel spirit to be used against the Strigoi. There are cameos from Rose and Dimitri, but that doesn’t last longer than a chapter, and just serves to demonstrate that Adrian has finally gotten over Rose and cherishes what he shares with Sydney.
A good portion of the book is spent with Adrian and Sydney meeting furtively, and while I truly am rooting for the two of them, after several hundred pages in, I found myself getting a little bored wishing something would just happen. I was also disappointed to see several side characters that I liked getting a lot less page time. Eddie, one of the dhampir guards, and Jill, are given several scenes, but mostly, their characters are sort of put to the wayside in favor of Sydney and Adrian’s developing relationship.
If you read primarily for romance, The Fiery Heart should be a rather satisfying read. I was happy enough to read Adrian’s POV, but I missed the action and intensity that the three previous books had. I will say the book ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, but if you’ve read the series up til now, it won’t come as a huge surprise with how it ends given how the book sets up in the beginning.