Firelight (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan
Publisher: Grand Central/Feb. 2012
Kind thanks to Grand Central Publishing for providing a review copy
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.
When I saw the cover of Firelight, I thought “Ohhh, that’s one I’m going to read.” It’s gorgeous, seriously. Granted, the word “romance” is on the spine, and I’m not a huge reader of romance, but, especially in the spirit of the new year, and trying new things in my reading, I was certainly game to give it a try. I do love historical novels, and Firelight also has paranormal elements, so that was a definite plus for me. I need not have had reservations, though, because Firelight had me hooked from the start. The novel opens when Miranda Ellis is only 19 and is cornered by thugs in a dark alley near her father’s house. Luckily, Lord Benjamin Archer comes to her rescue, although you’ll see later that Miranda is more than capable of taking care of herself. Lord Archer is there to kill Miranda’s father, yet after meeting this tough, beautiful girl, he decides to spare his life. Fast forward 3 years, and Miranda’s father, after marrying off her two older sisters, promises Miranda to Lord Archer. There’s no love lost between Miranda and her father, and even though Miranda is terrified, she’s determined to do her duty and marry the fearsome Lord Archer.
When Miranda marries Archer, that’s when the real fun of Firelight starts. Archer wears a mask on his face, supposedly to cover a hideous deformity. Miranda can’t say too much about that, though, since she’s got quite a secret of her own that she’s hiding. See, Miranda can set things on fire with a thought, so yeah, not a small secret by any means. Archer does not feel himself worthy of the beautiful Miranda, and consistently pulls away from her, even as she senses the kind soul behind the disguise. Hmmmm, sensing some parallels here? We’ve got a bit of Phantom of the Opera, and a bit of Beauty and the Beast as well (my absolute fave), but don’t get me wrong, Firelight is a story all its own. The few similarities just added to the charm of this book for me. So, there’s this delicious push and pull going on between Archer and Miranda, but when men start dying in gruesome ways, and Archer is suspected, Miranda vows to get to the bottom of the mystery, if it means saving the man she’s falling in love with. Throw in a rich London setting circa 1880, an ancient curse, a mysterious woman in disguise, and of course, plenty of romance and adventure, and you‘ve got a historical romance/fantasy that will keep you turning the pages. You can bet I’ll be looking forward to Moonglow this summer!