Originally posted at Romance Around the CornerI have a love/hate relationship with prequel novellas. Some are fantastic because they feel like they’re all about their story, truly belong to the series and aren’t there to sell you something else. But then there are those whose only purpose is to sell you the next book. Unfortunately, Hearts of Fire falls under the latter category.The story takes place in 1889. Alice, our heroine, is the daughter of the Kivati’s leader – a shifters clan residing in Seattle. One day, she meets a dashing stranger. Just by looking at him she can tell there’s more to him than meets the eye, and by the mighty power of the insta-love, she falls for him. Fortunately for her, the same happens to him. But this guy isn’t even a regular shifter, nope, his name is Bran and he’s a Drekar, an ancient dragon-shifter race that happens to be the Kivati’s mortal enemies. So we also have a Romeo and Juliet situation in our hands. Will love conquer hate?This novella has an interesting premise, or I think it would be interesting had we gotten more details. It’s yet a new take on shifters, but this time it’s intertwined with different mythologies, which is refreshing and unique. The clans have a different dynamics and complexities that are going to be interesting to explore, so in a way, the novella achieved its purpose of making me curious about the series. The potential is there, yet the execution was poor, first because I’m not that clear as to what is going on, and second and most important, because the romance was a failure. Not to mention that the ending was weak, an ending that’s tied to the main couple.As I said, Bran and Alice fall instantly in love, and it’s never clear what they see in each other, not surprisingly since they spend about five minutes together in total. Bran was an interesting character because despite being an ancient and powerful shifter, he came across as beta. In a genre that’s filled with domineering alphas, a hero that’s everything but, was a pleasant surprise. He was, by far, the most layered character in the story. I wasn’t so fond of Alice mostly because she wasn’t developed as a character. But in the end, their story fail to impress because it happens way too quick to allow me to connect and to care about their relationship. The ending was the weakest part. Bran and Alice make a selfish decision that makes sense for him, but not for her. I won’t spoil it but I’ll say that I thought it was the easy –and coward—way out. Not romantic at all, but very surprising.I wasn’t impressed by the story, although I enjoyed some aspects of it. As I said, I can see the potential in both the series and Ms. Brady’s talent. I won’t recommend this one to you, but I think I’ll read the next book to see if said potential is fully explored and developed. I’m ready to give these books a second chance because I know from experience that more often than not, good series have weak beginnings. Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.