Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Book Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan

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.

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.

Romance novels are insanely popular and millions of readers’ worldwide pick up romance books every single day.  So if they are in such high demand and sell so well why are they not taken seriously? Is it because they appeal mainly to female readers? Is it because they focus on the romance instead of the serious subjects and flowery prose of literary fiction? It seems crazy to me that we should belittle a genre that gets millions picking up books every day.  A lot of people think romance isn’t a ‘real’ genre and they brush it aside with a roll of the eyes.  But I think that romance is one of the harder genres to write because its authors can’t just rely on great writing, detailed descriptions, fully rounded characters and exciting story telling.  A romance on paper only works if the reader can believe in it and that belief stems from the author managing to inject chemistry into the characters relationship and chemistry isn’t the easiest thing to write.

I really hate to put Firelight by Kristen Callihan into the romance category purely because I feel like once I put it there you might not take it seriously, and I think that would be a real shame because Firelight was actually very, very good.  I liked everything about it from Callihan’s writing to the romance between the characters it all worked for me. 

Kristen Callihan’s writes very well.  She manages to bring the Victorian streets of London alive with her vivid descriptions and atmospheric writing.  It was dark and gothic which really suited me as I like that in my books.  There was a supernatural element to the book but Callihan managed to produce the gothic feeling by using the time period, some brilliant world building and description instead of falling back onto the paranormal.  The story itself was very enjoyable and easy to follow, it never dragged and I found myself losing hours to it without even realising.  There was plenty of action, humour and romance that kept me entertained from start to finish.  My only problem came at the end of the book, the big show down felt rushed and I never truly understood the supernatural part of the story.  As a murder mystery I thought this book was fantastic but as a paranormal novel this didn’t quite work.

The main reason I liked this book was the characters.  I really loved both Miranda and Benjamin which is rare for me.  Often in books where there are two dominant characters I find one of the main characters is lacking something, often because the author put more into one character leaving the other feeling only half created.  I didn’t have that problem here, both were well rounded and created and I managed to relate to them both.  I really liked Miranda she is an independent and strong woman living in a world that expects woman to shut up and sit down.  She doesn’t and I admire that, she was strong, feisty and she wasn’t about to let anyone tell her what to do, especially her moody new husband Benjamin.

Before I explain my utter adoration for Benjamin I should probably tell you that I am a massive Phantom of the Opera fan and that I generally have a lot of emotional feelings for the Phantom himself.  In a lot of ways Benjamin was like The Phantom they both wear masks, they are both capable of terrible things whilst being vulnerable and emotionally unstable.  Unlike the Phantom Benjamin carried a softer side, he was capable of being terrifying and selfish but in the end chose not to be because Miranda was able to bring him some sort of peace from all the violence and fear he had been living with.  Benjamin finally came across someone who not only wasn’t scared to put him in his place but was willing to face the darkness with him and that is why the romance worked so well between them.  The chemistry and equality between them made their romance believable and beautiful.

Firelight is full of gothic descriptions, loveable characters and nail biting action.  It is a great romance but more than that it is a great book.  

4 stars

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Published 30th September 2014 by piatkus (originally published January 31st 2012 by Forever)

Darkest London book 1

A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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