Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
This being my first foray into historical paranormal romance, I didn’t really know what I was getting into but if Firelight by Kristen Callihan is anything to go by, sign me up as convert!
Lord Benjamin Archer has been scouring the earth for a cure to his mysterious disfigurement. Fascinated by the flame-haired Miranda after a chance encounter, he knows his world is too dangerous to bring her into, but he finds himself unable to resist.
High society has turned its back on Miranda Ellis and her family after the loss of their fortune. Forced to steal to stay afloat and harboring a dark secret, the ability to produce and manipulate fire, marriage is the farthest thing from her mind. But when her father gives her hand to the enigmatic Lord Archer, Miranda has little choice but to wed the man in the mask.
When a series a murders all point toward Archer being the culprit, Miranda is sure that her new husband isn’t to blame. Seeing a side to him others rarely glimpse, she is determined to find answers from Archer himself or by any other means necessary.
Firelight hit just the right balance of action, mystery and romance, each helping to move the others along. The world building is so engrossing with Victorian London serving as a mysterious and fog-filled backdrop. Using the fascination with superstition and the occult of the era, Callihan crafts a plot that unravels with mystery and the whiff of secret societies. Little snippets of mythology threaded into the action and romance leave you guessing right up until the heart-stopping climax.
Given the era I was wary that Miranda would end up sitting on the sidelines, leaving all the action to the boys, but she brings the badass in a petticoat. Right from the first page she establishes herself as a lady not to be messed with, going toe to toe with Archer from the outset. I loved watching her go from fearing her powers to gaining the confidence to discovering their full spectrum.
Archer is arrogant, volatile and so damn charming I was reduced to a swooning Victorian lady myself. And he manages all of this without revealing what’s behind his mask for most of the book. Just like Miranda, we have to work hard to learn all of Archers secrets and watching her pry that out of him was thrill.
The romance between these two sizzles off the page. The sexual tension, heightened by the knowledge of such strict propriety in the time period, was off the charts. The verbal sparring was funny at times and wonderfully frustrating at others. Told from both characters’ perspectives you can see just how close to revealing their secrets they come, but also the misunderstandings that derail them on more than one occasion. The connection they have, due to a shared sense of loneliness is palpable from the beginning.
Firelight is a dark and enthralling tale of passion and secrets. The mystery of Archer kept me glued to the page but it was the brilliantly written back and forth between the two main characters, leading to a combustible love affair, that has made this a favorite book of 2012 for me. I’m off to lose myself in Moonglow, the second in series, right now!
Sexual content: Graphic sex