Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Firelight by Kristen Callihan

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher from NetGalley.

Every so often, I like to lose myself in a well-crafted paranormal romance that is apart from the norm. This is even better if it’s set in the Victorian era and does not involve vampires or werewolves (I did say apart from the norm and vamps and wolves are very much the norm). When I stumbled across Firelight, it seemed to tick every box that would mark it as the perfect read for me and so I knew that I would be reading it at some point or another. Plus, that cover? Another tick in another box – it certainly calls to me!

Title: Firelight
Series: Darkest London #1
Author: Kriten Callihan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Target Audience: Adult
Pages: 372
Chapters: Prologue+ 34 +epilogue
PoV: 3rd person
Tense: Past tense

Story : London, 1881
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.

Thoughts and impressions: This book is so good in almost every way that I’m not entirely sure where to start with my review! I’m going to start with how very out of the norm this is. Or, at least, it’s out of my norm. I’ve never read anything  with lore quite like this! Right up until the revelation, I had no idea what Archer was hiding behind his mask and what it turned out to be was simply fascinating. Miranda’s powers and role in it all ties in superbly well as well in a way that I’d never have anticipated. It all plays on ancient myths that I’ve never heard of so I couldn’t say whether the author invented them (in which case, she has an amazing imagination) or whether she did a huge amount of research into something rather obscure (in which case, kudos to her! She did an amazing job at bringing it all to life for me!)

The way that Archer finds himself drawn to Miranda as of their very first meeting, so much so that he’s willing to go out of his way to ensure that one day he will be able to present her father with a marriage proposal that he won’t be able to refuse, was really rather sweet if a little weird based on a short confrontation in a dark alley. Miranda’s growing faith in him despite his secrets and hers was wonderful to read about. She was the sort of heroine who refuses to be cowed by others around her and I really respected her throughout the book.

Her ability with fire is often referred to but not actually shown until about half way through. It was really quite something! She has the ultimate protection against the ragtag sleaze in the darkened streets of London.  I got the impression that she still had more to discover about her powers as well but maybe that will play some role or another in a future book.

When I first saw that this book was the first in a series, I had assumed that the series would follow Miranda and her power over fire. Upon finishing the book, I realised that this would not be the case: Miranda and Archer’s story has been concluded and the next one will be one of the side character’s stories. The series is most definitely off to a good start though and promises to be interesting! I will be following it.

I’d pegged the baddy as of fairly early on and I’m rather surprised it took Miranda as long as it did to have that light bulb moment, especially as secrets start to be revealed. Still, I liked the way that all of the intrigue eventually wove together leaving very few of the characters as just accessory.

The story was also somewhat evocative of Beauty and the Beast – my favourite! How could I not love this book?

The story did, however, stumble onto one of my pet peeves. There’s a fairly transparent hint early on that Miranda is no longer a “maiden”, read: she’s not a virgin. This is cool, I like when the hero is not the only one with a scandalous sexual past. But then, when things finally get around to the bedroom stage, she’s worried about how “big” Archer is. This is my pet peeve. If you’re going to make your heroine experienced, then make her experienced and don’t have her baulk at the size of “sein Teil”. It’s too much a way of stroking the hero’s ego.

The other thing I’m not sold on is the scene in the alley around the 30% mark (when they get out of the British museum). Things were bordering a bit too close on abuse for my tastes.

This said, despite those two minor things, I really enjoyed the book. It was just what the doctor ordered!

Style: The author had a tendency to switch between PoVs in the middle of a scene and sometimes I was unsure who I was following or when the shift from X’s PoV to Y’s even took place. In my copy there were also no breaks in the text between separate scenes such as a scene that follows the killer for a few paragraphs and then going back to follow Archer. This could be different in the printed copy, though.

Final verdict: This book came very close to a 5 star read for me, but it was just missing that little je ne sais quoi that would have pushed it over the edge. I consider it a high end 4 star read and recommend it to anyone who likes paranormal romance. 4 stars

Extra notes: The narrative is peppered with the odd swear word. Sex is present.

1 comment:

  1. I've got this book in my TBR pile - glad you liked it - I do love a series!


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