Soul of Fire

Author: Sarah A. Hoyt

Publisher: Bantam Spectra

Release Date: July 29, 2008

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4

Format: PRINT

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Miss Sofie Warington is called home to Calcutta after years at a British ladies' boarding school. Upon her return, she's horrified to discover that her parents plan to force her into a marriage with Raj Ajith, rumored to be king of a distant "land of tigers". The Raj claims to have chosen Sofie after seeing her in a dream, but Sofie's skeptical. Innocent but shrewd, Sofie highly doubts she's the sort of girl that gives men mystical visions. She suspects the Raj is far more interested in her meager dowry, an antique magical ruby. Although no one in Sofie's family can get it to work, the ruby is alleged to greatly enhance its possessor's magical abilities. When Sofie's pleas to cancel the marriage fall on deaf ears, she decides to run away from home.

Peter Farewell is roaming the streets of Calcutta in a mood of despair. He's been sent on a quest to find SOUL OF FIRE, a magical ruby that will help balance the distribution of magic throughout the world. After six months of searching, he's found nothing. Now he's just learned that he has inherited the earldom of St. Maur, but he can't return to England to claim the title. Even in a British empire rife with magic, shape shifters are viewed with horror and executed upon discovery. Unfortunately, besides being a handsome nobleman, Peter Farewell is one of the most dangerous of all shapeshifters – he's a dragon.

Yet Peter's curse turns out to be a very lucky thing indeed, when he spies Miss Sofie Warington about to fall from the balcony of her parents' home. Without considering the consequences, he transforms himself and swoops up to the balcony to rescue her. Surprisingly, Sofie isn't frightened by Peter's ability to transform. Indeed, she's intrigued by it and sympathetic to his role as an outcast in society. Peter's shocked to find himself falling in love with the girl almost immediately, but Peter hates the dragon part of himself, knowing the violence of which it's capable. He fears he'd do harm to anyone he loves, so he resists his attraction to Sofie. Instead, he puts aside his own mission and offers to help Sofie find her way to an old flame from England, a British Army officer whom Peter hopes will protect Sofie from the evil Raj Ajith. Once Sofie is safely bestowed with this officer, Peter plans to resume his quest for SOUL OF FIRE -- alone. Little does Peter realize the only path to the magical ruby lies with his beloved Sofie.

Sarah A. Hoyt's SOUL OF FIRE is a marvelous tale, full of strange and original images, including her portraits of kingdoms of were-monkeys and were-tigers. Everyone in this alternate world possesses at least a little magic; the issue is merely how fairly the magic will be distributed. Peter Farewell serves an ancient goddess who seeks to keep any one kingdom from trying to hoard all the magic to itself, as the British are doing. I highly recommend SOUL OF FIRE, as well as the first book in this series, HEART OF LIGHT, which introduces Peter but focuses on the adventures of his friends Nigel and Emily Oldhall. Both books create a vividly realized world of magic and feature wonderful, well-rounded characters. Peter is a fantastic creation. He's a charming yet fierce dragon – but also a man, and one who's willing to make any sacrifice for the woman he loves.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Lynn Reynolds

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