This week I’m reviewing Kindling Flames by Julie Wetzel! I have never read any of her work before so I was really interested to see what she had to offer.
Vicky, fresh out of college, gets a temporary placement as CEO Darien Ritter’s personal assistant. However, everything is not as it seems! Darien is a Master Vampire who runs the city’s underground paranormal population. Vicky is soon part of a world she never even knew existed. Dun dun duuuuuuun!
This book was a strangely mundane mix of office romance and paranormal thriller, but without much of the thrill. The first and second books of this series could have been combined, leaving out the cliffhanger and the extra money the reader has to hand over. The book was enjoyable, yes, but not enough happened to give me enough content for one review. The only redeeming part was the cliffhanger at the ending, finally giving the reader something other than a budding romance to root for. It was very much a money making attempt to make the reader pay for the next book, when really it should have been a part of the first. It says on Goodreads that the book was divided because of the length, but I call bullshit. It would have been an average length novel otherwise, they just wanted extra money!
I had a problem with the novel’s realism, and I am not talking about the vampires and magic, as that was CLEARLY the realistic part. Vicky was a twenty-something year old woman earning a decent wage in the city who loves dancing and going out with friends. However, this book seemed watered down and unnecessarily PG-13. There were many occasions where the situations could have been given depth or grittiness, but Wetzel glided over the issues. Wetzel, I’m sure, is trying to attract a younger reader, but I feel the diluted events may turn away an adult one. Either Wetzel is writing for young adults or adults and she needs to make up her mind. Even if she wants her novel to move into the New Adult category, she needs to be developing the romance a little more realistically. The relationship between Darien and Vicky was obvious, but it was always ‘going to happen soon’ and never properly discussed. Then apparently Wetzel thought it would be good to have them finally act on their feelings BETWEEN (yes BETWEEN!) the second and third books! DUDE. I don’t think she realises a lot of people would have kept reading to see that relationship come to fruition after reading two books of dragging it out, and yet it is only mentioned in passing.
Darien’s vampiric abilities seemed somewhat of an afterthought. I think Wetzel tried to explain them away but really this first novel of the series could have been about any CEO. As an older vampire, he is pretty much human! From his appetite to the daylight hours that he keeps, there isn’t anything vampire-ish about him other than his age. It felt like Wetzel had started to write an office romance and then one day thought, ‘hey, what would be really cool is if Darien is a vampire!’ Obviously a lot of the plot was moved forward by paranormal activity, but the characters needed to reflect those elements too.
There was also one part of the book that I did think was a bit ‘WTF’. It was when Rupert, one of Darien’s besties, comes into the office and proceeds to needlessly strangle Vicky to the verge of death. It might have been interesting, but Wetzel does nothing with the information other than show Darien’s healing abilities. For the rest of the books, Rupert seems a pretty stand up guy so it is pretty inexplicable that he was so violent for that one episode. Vicky, who remembers the attack, is quite happy to be around Rupert. Even if she doesn’t know the extent of the damage, she shouldn’t be that cool with being around someone that assaulted her. I did like Vicky overall, though, so if you’re looking for an easy read I might recommend it. For someone who typically likes gritty and realistic novels though, this probably isn’t for you!