Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Firelight (Darkest London, #1) by Kristen Callihan

"The agreement states you must go willingly, or it is void...But I'll tell you this, should you refuse you'll no longer live here...I'm done with you. I would not have kept you so long as I have if I weren't waiting for this moment...Your bags are packed." 

Miranda Ellis' family has been plagued with a series of unfortunate events. The once financially sound family was thrust into poverty years ago when her father lost his ship and his warehouse burnt down. Now her father has made a deal with the devil, or rather, Lord Archer to trade her hand in marriage for financial gain.

From their first meeting he knew he wanted her. The mysterious man whose face was hidden from the world beneath a black mask, and known as the Dread Lord Archer, was rich and feared. He'd waited three years to claim her, but a day never went by when he didn't think of her.

Each possesses a power that is extraordinary of which neither knows the other possesses. He loved how she appeared fearless when cornered by two youths with dangerous intentions. He thought perhaps she would be unafraid of what he had become. She had been forced into the marriage and while it wouldn't have been her choice, she decided it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to her. That was until people of Archer's acquaintance started being murdered.

When I first read the description of the book and looked at the cover, my first thoughts were this might be 'Phantom of the Opera' meets 'Firestarter'.  While Miranda does share some traits with Charlene, Drew Barrymore's character from 'Firestarter', I felt 'Phantom of the Opera' didn't quite fit, but 'Beauty and the Beast' did. The book has a gothic feel to it and is set in late 1800  London with gas street lamps, paranormal happenings, and a string of gruesome murders which keeps you wondering till the very end who dunnit.

On the evening of their wedding, Miranda overhears a conversation where Inspector Winston Lane, her brother-in-law, informs her new husband he is a suspect in a murder investigation. Just moments before, unbeknownst to her, Archer had been handed a mysterious package which contained a gory 'present' and a message stating, "you shouldn't have done it". Included with the package was an article about their wedding. Apparently not everyone is happy about his marriage to Miranda.

Miranda is fearless, smart, and loyal, but also very vulnerable--traits she shares with Archer. Both have been betrayed by those they've cared for. Both have been abandoned. Both worry the other will find out their secret and be horrified. Both are extraordinary. 

The book grabs your attention from the very beginning making you wonder what Lord Archer actually is and how it happened. Plus, there are the questions of what happened to him to disfigure him so badly that he wears a mask all the time, and what is the extent of his disfigurement? While we might not know what Archer is, we do know almost from the start that Miranda has an affinity to fire. As long as she has something to burn, she can set it on fire. She sees her gift as a curse but will find it to be a blessing in disguise. 

I thought this was a great debut for author Kristen Callihan. I loved her characters and the world she created. You almost felt like you stepped back in time. The mystery kept your attention and engaged the detective in you as you tried to piece together any clues you could gather. The conclusion Ms. Callihan created was unlike anything I would have suspected. The heat which ignited between Miranda and Archer was highly flammable, and I think I smelled smoke (sorry couldn't resist the fire references). On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scored a STEAM rating. Overall, this gets 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I can't wait to read the sequel and already have the prequel on preorder so by the time this review goes up I should be able to read it. 
Order of Series:

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