Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Coal is not from the human world and he was cast out of his home. He found the Black Cat Circus, or more accurately the ringmaster found him, and gained a new family when he joined. But Coal’s ability is always on the brink of his control and he craves the stability his circus family provides. All of that changes with the arrival of the new cook.

Rhett is very human and chance led him to apply for the position of cook. He craves change and traveling with the circus is exactly what he needs. Rhett has always been looking for a place to fit in and the moment he starts working, he finds a new family. It’s easy to like everyone at the circus, especially one enigmatic and stoic stranger. From the first time Rhett meets Coal, he’s intrigued by the other man.

Coal knows it’s best to keep his distance, but his source flame, the fire that makes him, is just as intrigued by Rhett as he is. The more they talk, the closer they get. When Rhett learns the truth, even though he’s shocked, he quickly accepts there’s more to Coal and the rest of the circus than he ever knew existed. Together, Coal and Rhett begin a journey to not only fall in love, but to heal their pasts.

The Firedancer is one installment in the shared world, multi-author Black Cat Circus series. It’s not necessary to read them all in order to have the whole story, as each book focuses on an individual couple. While there are cameos from others in the book, as the circus is the common backdrop, they work as standalones. I have not read any of the other books and had no problem following along.

Coal is the kind of character that grabs my heart. He was shunned by his family and fortunately found a place with the circus right after. But he spent most of his life fearful of what he is, an integral part of himself, that he keeps himself closed off. When we meet Coal, he’s come a long way in his journey, but he’s still healing and still a bit broken. I enjoyed watching him open up and take those final steps to truly accepting who he is and embracing all parts of himself. A large part of that is due to Rhett’s acceptance. Though he’s always been accepted by Seven, the ringmaster, and everyone else who works with the circus, it’s not the same as having that acceptance from a romantic partner, who sees all the parts of him. Rhett not only accepts Coal, but helps him find the bravery to really embrace his inner flame.

Rhett has never known his birth parents and he bounced around the foster system until he aged out. He’s never felt like he’s belonged, and though he’s had at least one person in his life who stood up and helped him, he’s mostly been on his own. Finding a place at the circus, feeding everyone and seeing just how much they enjoy his cooking, really helps him feel settled. But more than that, Rhett learns that humans aren’t the only ones out there. His acceptance of that fact felt natural and believable. He’s an utter sweetheart who is perfect for Coal in so many ways. I loved watching his mind open to all the possibilities, and his heart open to Coal.

This story is told in alternating first-person POV, so the reader really gets to know both MCs. Having both thought processes on page goes a long way to suspending what disbelief you need to and diving into the story. The romance between these two was really sweet and the instant attraction between them fueled their desire to know more about each other. For me, the pacing was a bit off. The first half of the story worked well, as they slowly got to know each other. But when they finally took the next step, the story moved at lightning speed. It was a little too fast, considering fated mates wasn’t the drive here. The MCs went from zero to sixty, and given the first half was such a lovely pace, the second half felt rushed. There’s no doubt that these two are made for each other, but I would have liked to see that developed and explored more.

All in all, I liked this story. If you’re reading along with the series releases, then you’re definitely going to want to pick this one up. The whole thing had a magical feel, especially given that the circus seems a step out of time and is populated with supernatural beings. While some parts of it didn’t work as well for me, overall, it was a fun story about acceptance being the key to happiness and a sweet love story that warmed my heart.

Joyfully Jay