Set in 1880’s London, Firelight by Kristen Callihan paints a picture of dismal darkness surrounded by a ray of hope and light. The vivid setting is very gothic in feel. None of the grittiness of the time period has been left out. There are cut throat men and thieves, fathers who view their daughters as worthless and who are willing to sell them for a simple price, and cunning devious (and sometimes sexy) men who are willing to risk everything, including love, to save their own souls. It is intense, and dramatic, and has some jaw dropping sensuality to it as well.
The theme of Firelight is very Beauty and the Beast like with a hint of Phantom of the Opera as well as a dash of Satanic evil. It really is one hell of a story (pun entirely intended). In this story, the main character Lord Benjamin Archer has kept his identity and disfigurement hidden from the world for many years behind a dark mask. On one dark night, clocked in the shadows, he spies the beautiful Miranda Ellis defending herself from would-be attackers in a darkened alleyway. He instantly finds himself enthralled by this woman, and in time he arranges a marriage with her, and takes her away to his remote castle.
After they arrive at the castle together as husband and wife, Benjamin continues to keep Miranda at arms length. He is afraid of getting too close to her because he is afraid of her seeing the real him and being disgusted. Yet he keeps finding it harder and harder to resist the desire that he feels for her, especially after his friends start getting murdered, and he is the most likely of suspects. Suddenly all that matters is Miranda’s safety, and finally finding a cure for this ‘illness’ that has plagued him for so long.
The pacing of Firelight is so good! I absolutely loved the darker, Gothic historical feel of this story. You can literally feel the tone of the setting as you reading which to me was a very awesome feeling. It was very interesting how all the details of the plot were revealed. It was as if everything was a part of one big mystery, and you were being given one little detail at a time, just enough to wet your appetite. Very suspenseful and so very much worth it in the end! There is also this wonderful balance of genres in the story as well. You’ve got historical, paranormal, romance and a strong hint of mystery as I mentioned before. All of these genres are so important to the plot and the characters.
Speaking of the characters, I loved both of the main ones. The relationship between Benjamin and Miranda is not an easy one by far. They are both equally attracted to each other but they are both equally scarred for different reasons. Benjamin is terrified to reveal his true self to someone, and Miranda has some secrets of her own that she is afraid to reveal. They are both strong independent people who have tortured souls and it takes a lot for each of them to break down the walls and admit that they need each other. The relationship building between the characters is wonderful. The walls have no reign on the chemistry between the characters though. HOLY SMOKE! These two characters have so much chemistry. It is insane – an off the charts level of chemistry! But that is not the only reason I love them … their love is so deep and it is very real … and is so worth reading about!
Firelight is the first book in a series by Kristen Callihan called the Darkest London series, and if this book is any indication how the rest of the series will play out, I will most definitely be checking it out. This book took hold of me, and refused to let me go. I really cannot say enough about the setting, the plot, and the characters. It really does have something for everyone, and I highly recommend that you check it out!
Disclosure: Purchased copy
Other reviews of Firelight by Kristen Callihan:
The Broke and the Bookish: “If you like masked men tropes, damaged hero, “fiery” heroines and mild suspense, this is for you…”
Smexybooks: “I loved every second of this book…”