Firelight is a paranormal romance set in 1881, and is the first in Kristen Callihan’s new series DARKEST LONDON. I urge all paranormal romance fans to give it a try — Firelight is sheer fun!
The plot contains many elements of the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale. Miranda Ellis is roped into an arranged marriage with the mysterious masked Lord Archer as a result of the misdeeds of her father. There’s also a reference to “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon,” a variant of the tale in which the heroine gets to play a more active role in saving the day. The reference is apt. Miranda kicks butt.
Archer is accused of a series of murders. Someone is bumping off the members of the secret occult society of which he was once a member. Miranda believes him innocent and sets out to clear his name and find the real killer, while also trying to figure out what lies behind Archer’s mask. The two mysteries are inextricably linked. Miranda hides a secret of her own, too, a paranormal ability that helps protect her in dangerous situations but that she fears losing control of.
The gradual build of the relationship between the leads is fantastically done. One of the things that often annoys me in paranormal romance is the trend of authors using the paranormal as a substitute for actually developing the relationship: characters will fall in “insta-love” and/or will be preordained as fated soul mates without going through the process of getting to know each other. Kristen Callihan does not do this. Instead, Miranda and Archer have conversations (both bantering and serious), slowly reveal their secrets to one another, and along the way have chemistry that is absolutely swoonworthy and sizzling. There does turn out to be a metaphysical reason that their relationship is fortuitous, but that’s never presented as why they fall in love in the first place. I love these characters’ marriage because, above all else, they are a team and have each other’s back.
Both Miranda and Archer are complex and endearing characters, there are a number of fascinating secondary characters as well, and the world-building leaves open a wide variety of paranormal possibilities. Callihan has a lot of room for more stories here. Book two, Moonglow, comes out in August 2012 and will star two of those aforementioned fascinating characters. I’ll be looking forward to it.
I enjoyed Firelight, and when I finished it, my main thought was that I wanted more of it — more ancient magical lore, more scenes with Archer and Miranda, and more of Callihan’s London. I read Firelight via NetGalley, so my review copy will self-destruct like a Mission Impossible tape, but I’ve decided I’m buying a copy for my shelves, because this is a book I’d like to keep around. I could see it becoming a great comfort read. Firelight takes us on a grand adventure and leaves us believing that maybe true love really does conquer all.