Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan (Darkest London #1)
Paranormal Historical Romance
January 31 2012
Mass Market Paperback
Yummy Man – Lord Benjamin Archer
Kick Ass Chick – Miranda Ellis
From Goodreads –
Once the flames are ignited . . .
Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family’s fortune decimated and forced her to wed London’s most nefarious nobleman.
They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it’s selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can’t help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn’t felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.
Firelight is the first book in Kristen Calligan’s Darkest London series. I have to say that when this book first came out, I didn’t even think to read it because it is technically a historical romance book. Then the buzz started. Let’s talk about the buzz. I swear everyone I know read this book and loved it. Even those who don’t typically read historicals, like me, were telling me that I just had to read Firelight. By the time I heard that for the 134th time, I decided that not all of these people recommending this book had to be crazy so I caved and bought it. Then it sat in my book closet for a while until recently, when I finally unearthed it and read it. And I’m glad I did.
This is a book set in the 1800’s but it doesn’t read like your typical historical book. The focus is on the paranormal as well as the romance and not really the setting. I adored the characters in Firelight! They were definitely the highlight. Especially Miranda and Archer.
But before we get to them, let’s talk story real quick.
Archer is a feared man. He wears a mask, his face never having been seen in public. He is known to be ruthless and his temper is well known. He meets Miranda and instantly knows she must be his. But she is young yet and he feels he is not worthy of her. But like that’s going to stop him. Miranda’s father has lost his fortune and now Miranda is forced to steal for him so they can afford to eat. She hates what her life has become. When Archer approaches her father with the offer to marry her, she begins to fight it but then realizes that she will be free of daddy, so she accepts. (Not like she really had the choice, really) Miranda goes through life without the fear that most maidens live with because she holds a secret: she can wield fire. She can make it come to her when she wants and burn whatever threat comes near her.
So we have Archer. He wears a mask. You wonder “why does he wear the mask?” Is he really as horrible as they make him out to be? Then we have Miranda. You wonder “why does she have this power?” How is she going to cope with the situation her father put her in by having her marry Archer who is by all accounts a horrible horrible man?
The story was so well written. Many different tales and storylines intricately woven and done beautifully. There is a lot going on but not once do you feel lost. There are murders and Archer is suspect number one. But you know it’s not him…so who is it? And why is the killer impersonating Archer? And what is this coin that is left at each murder scene? And… So many good questions come up and each are answered well. I did suspect who was responsible for it all about 60% in but the why was a mystery until pretty much the end. I was really impressed with Kristen’s voice and the story she managed to tell.
Now back to Archer and Miranda. Just from what you know of him, you assume that he is going to be a bastard who is really just misunderstood. You know, like most alphas out there. But he’s not like that. He is an alpha character of sorts but not in your usual sense. He truly cares for Miranda, you can tell that immediately. You can feel it and their chemistry is amazing. He is only being bullish with her because he wants to protect her. He knows that if she knows everything, she will run into a dangerous situation to set things right, getting herself hurt in the meantime. His secret is quite different from what I would have imagined it to be – absolutely never saw that coming.
I don’t read many books in the historical genre but when I do, I love it when the heroine isn’t a sit-back-and-work-on-my-needlework kind of gal. I love it when they are not only considered smart and spunky for their time but also for this time. Miranda is one such character. She hides a powerful ability which makes her even more spunky than most but she is also very witty. I loved her scenes with Archer. How she is so protective of him is quite sweet. There really isn’t anything bad to say about this character – Miranda was a joy to read.
And she loves Archer with her whole self. She can’t explain it at first but there is just something there that not only draws her but also turns her into a very protective lioness.
The paranormal aspect of this book is like nothing I’ve read before. It’s demons done with a twist and fire power to boot. It’s just cool…and slightly creepy. Those who have read this book know exactly what I am talking about and those who will be reading it soon, I expect emails telling me how different / cool the twist in Firelight is. 😉
Strong characters with interesting back stories and amazing chemistry – that was the highlight for me in Firelight. Add in great pacing and a smart suspenseful story and you have even more reasons to read it. If you are looking for something different, give this one a try.
Books in the Darkest London series –
Shadowdance (November 2013)