May 28, 2015

Gothic London streets, sizzling romance and gripping mystery || Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Author:Kristen Callahan
Release Date:July 29th 2014
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.

I have a huge soft spot for historical fiction. Something about the early times of Victorian Era appeals to me greatly, and I love it when young adult books are set in that period, especially if they are paranormal romance, so when Nuzaifa recommended Firelight to me and also let me borrow a copy, I was quite intrigued to start this mesmerizing read set in a twisted version of Victorian Era London.

Miranda Ellis is confused greatly when a mysterious and enigmatic noble man, Lord Benjamin Archer offers to marry her, as her family is practically bankrupt and devoid of their former glory. But something about Archer intrigues her greatly , and as she tries to understand her new husband, who always wears a mask to cover his disfigured face and sparks unknown feelings and desires inside her, both of them are swept into a thrilling , and action paced tale of mysteries, murders, revelations and magic.

What I loved most in this book is the writing. Kristen Callihan's writing is so vivid and descriptive and it often reminded me of Laini Taylor's writing in The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I could totally envision myself in the dark streets of Victorian Era London as she beautifully describes the gothical, magical and exotic setting with her evocative storytelling.

Mud-think fog hung low on the ground, refusing to drift off despite the crisp night breeze. It never truly went away, ever present in London, like death, taxes, and monarchy. The ends of Archer's cloak snapped about his legs, whipping up eddies of the foul yellow vapor as his mouth filled with the acrid taste of coal, filth, and decay that was the flavor of London.
Then there's the characters. Both Miranda and Archer are wonderfully crafted characters with so much depth with compelling backstories. I loved how Callihan deals with the aspect of beauty in relation to these two characters.
“What is beauty or ugliness but a false front that prompts man to make assumptions rather than delving deeper.”
I admired Miranda's strength and spirit a lot, as she never feared or hesitated to master the art of swordplay in a time when such actions by a woman was frowned upon. 
I also loved her power - her ability to control fire- which was something that suited her a lot with her own fiery personality.

“Christ, Miri, murder and knife-wielding assassins aside, you are the greatest adventure of my life.” 
Archer was an enigma. He wears a mask to hide his physical deformity as well as an emotional barrier to hide his inner mental turmoil. But at the same time, it was easy to understand his hidden vulnerability and tender feelings which were brought to the spotlight, throughout the course of the story through his beautiful relationship with Miranda.
“You're collecting pieces of me, aren't you?" His voice turned thick as warm toffee, rolling over her skin, heating it. "A bit here. A bit there. Soon you'll set me out on the table, to try and fit me back together."

Ignoring the flurries plaguing her belly, she affected blandness. "I've only got the corners. But it is a start."

A warm breath touched her neck. "I believe you have the centerpiece as well.” 
The romance was just awesome. These two has such an amazing sizzling chemistry and sexual tension, so hot and passionate that I couldn't help but swoon and fan myself often:)
 “Their eyes met, and that spark of something hot and sharp ripped through her again. Awareness. It took a moment to realize, but that was it. She was utterly aware of him. Of the breadth of his shoulders, the deep even way he breathed, the force of his gaze. Bloody hell, but she we beset by the craving to touch him, testing the strength in those shoulders.” 

 “Know this, there is only one truth left to me." His trembling fingertips caressed her jaw. "That I love you." He said it again, his voice broken, his arms pulling her tightly against him. "I love you. The rest is darkness."

Her fingers curled around the smooth swells of his biceps. "Then let me be your light.” 

I love that Firelight gives equal amount of attention to both action and romance. While the romance is slow burning and sensual, the action was laden with mystery and a lot of darkness, so much so that there was never a moment that I was bored with this book.

Overall, Firelight is a story where The Beauty and the Beast meets The Phantom of the Opera with a vivid, gothic and mesmerizing writing and setting; strong, deep characters; sizzling hot romance; and fast paced action that I'll recommend to any fans of dark and twisted paranormal stories with a great couple with amazing chemistry to root for.

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