Title: Crucible of Fate (Change of Heart #4)
Author: Mary Calmes
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com;
Genre: urban fantasy, shapeshifters
Length: Novel (234 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Larissa
Review Summary: A new angle in the Change of Heart series that you’ll either love or hate.
Blurb: In the secret city of Sobek, Domin Thorne is making his way as the newly chosen semel-aten, the leader of the werepanther world. He aspires to make sweeping changes—he’s set goals for himself and the people he chose to bring with him, modeling his reign after that of his friend, Logan Church. But Domin may have set too lofty a goal: his normal leadership style isn’t working.
While juggling a homesick Crane, a moody Mikhail, a bullwhip-wielding Taj, servants with murderous intentions, a visiting ex, and a mate on a dangerous goodwill mission, Domin has to figure out his new role alone. He also must determine how to deal with a conspiracy, all the while falling hard for a man who, for the first time in Domin’s life, reciprocates that love. Whether Domin is ready or not, Fate has stepped in to teach him a lesson: internal threats are just as dangerous as external ones.
Change of Heart Series
Review: There are a lot of readers who have a love/hate relationship with Mary Calmes’ books. They are compelling to read and very hard to put down, but there are elements in a lot of her books, not just the Change of Heart series, that are annoying and frustrating such as the near perfect characters who are very beautiful and above reproach to name just one. The constant return of ex-lovers or love interests is another.
I remember that by the third Change of Heart book: Honored Vow I wanted to strangle Jin for having become such an ass and Mary Calmes for the direction the book had taken and the contradictions and a society riddled with psychopaths who got away with everything. I made my own vow then: I would never pick up another Change of Heart book EVER.AGAIN!
But as always, I just couldn’t resist (and it was Domin of course and the cute cover and well… everything) and here I am.
Sorry for the ramble folks.
Fortunately Crucible of Fate is quite different from the previous books in the series and in a way quite refreshing. There is a new narrator: Domin, who is very much different from Jin and gives the story new life and a new voice. He’s quite gloomy, paranoid and pessimistic when we meet him at the beginning of the story. Taking up such a massive, heavy mantle of leadership is quite something. As they always say, change takes time and Domin finds that it is not easy trying to change a people set in its ways.
I will not go deeper into the plot as the blurb sums it up nicely and to do so would give away too much of the story.
The story is not a romance in itself. Domin and Yuri are an established couple and while it’s very nice to see their very much different relationship, there are only brief moments in the story where they actually share page time and some of them are flashbacks. However, they do have a good dynamic and it’s clear they are perfect for each other. In a way they complement each other.
Much of the story is focused on a gloomy Domin while Yuri takes off to play the hero.
Apart from Domin and Yuri there are a host of other characters. Some we are familiar with: yes Jin and Logan come for a visit and gah do they take on god like appearances in this story. Some new characters are introduced as well. A Mary Calmes story never lacks for characters and Crucible of Fate is no different in that regard.
The topic of characterization with this author is always very sketchy. I always think her characters are mildly schizophrenic for them to behave the way they do (or hit by one too many of Cupid’s arrows). They have a tendency to do a 180 throughout the story. It will come as no surprise that halfway through the story Domin’s former lover Koren shows up to do something very predictable.
While in the other books the main characters always got too perfect or god-like qualities, this wasn’t so for Domin and Yuri. Domin does a lot of good, but he needs to grow into the role of the leader he needs to be and he is not always perfect (especially when he starts to doubt himself). We know Domin was Semel of his own pride, but was taken down by Logan. It’s clear he is leader material and just needs a second chance.
Yuri is the voice of calm. He is Domin’s rock. Yuri isn’t present for much of the story, but when he is, he isn’t always perfect and I liked that. In fact, he does something very stupid in the book ;-).
As always the world-building is extensive and detailed. We get to see much more of the world this series is set in and from a different angle. We get just as frustrated as Domin to try and change a culture that is very much set in its traditions. There are a lot of instances in the story where I figured they would be much better off to just whip them out and get a ruler to see whose is bigger.
Personally, I liked this fourth installment in the series. It was refreshing to switch to Domin’s perspective and get a new adventure. A lot happens in the story and it leads me to believe there will be more. Some plot angles are resolved and others are new or left open.
The writing is gripping and makes it that you’re unable to put the book down. It’s for you to decide if you pick up Crucible of Fate or not, but I can tell you that if you didn’t like Honored Vow you might like this one as it gets the story back on track.