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Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Where did you get the book: Netgalley Arc

Publisher: Kensington

Release date: Out now

 

 

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.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*


I am not a huge fan of gothic toned romances because I always feel they tend to be over-wrought or dreary.  I enjoy the dark atmospheric tone of the setting. Despite this I enjoy a dark atmospheric setting and I was pretty intrigued with the premise of Firelight which is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast theme, and with a dash of the Phantom of the Opera to go with it. However it does have a bit of a twist which has the heroine, Miranda,  not be the damsel in distress which I found very refreshing.

From their first meeting, Archer is fascinated by Miranda whom he comes across late one night practicing sword-play with a friend and disguised as a boy- their first encounter is filled with tension and fun sparring!  And despite the fact he is living with a dark curse and hides himself from the world by shunning society and staying hidden by a mask, he is unable to help himself from blackmailing her father to ensure he gets married to her a few years later.  Miranda is also refreshingly upfront and isn’t a misshish virgin who is afraid of the fate that her father’s betrayal, and the mishandling, that it brings upong her siblings and herself. She made mistakes but she also makes the best of things and when she marries Archer she realises that there is more to the man who hides behind the mask and that he isn’t a fearful figure that society thinks he is.

The main highlight for me with this book, was that the pitfalls and cliches of a gothic toned romance — along with the tropes — is tossed on its head and hammered down to itty bitty pieces because Kristen Callihan never falls into those traps. Miranda is determined to find out the mystery of why Archer hides behind the mask and instead of having doubts and making TSTL decisions because he ‘appears’ to be the bad guy, Miranda is determined to unravel the mystery and I love how they slowly deconstruct each other and knock each personal walls down.

‘ “Amusing. But I don’t believe that of you.” She shifted to face him, the effect of which unfortunately brought her mere inches from his solid frame. She couldn’t move away without drawing attention so she went on as if unaffected.
“You hide many things Archer. By you do not lie. Not to a direct question, anyway.”
The wide expanse of his chest brushed against hers as he leaned in. “You collecting pieces of me, aren’t you?”
His voice turned thick as warm toffee, rolling over her skin, heating. “A bit here. A bit there. Soon you’ll set me out on the table trying to fit me back together.” ’

The romantic tension builds up wonderfully throughout the book and it’s not filled with forced wangsting. And the lead up to their first kiss *fans self* was very erotic and sexy. I loved that their romance was filled with sparkling banter which was thick with sexual tension. It felt so refreshing and when they finally consummate their relationship it’s really worth the wait!

Miranda’s sisters and the chemistry she shares with them was also fantastic and I really think the author has a great grasp of characterisation because she made even the minor ones stand out and memorable, such as the house-keeper which Miranda has a hate/hate relationship or Miranda’s old friend who is a thief. I did wish that the author expanded more on him and her sisters because I felt there was missing chunks from the story — although it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

But the ending is my favourite. I really don’t want to spoil it but I do have to say again the tropes are twisted again and Miranda plays an integral role and important role and I loved how she saved the day in that respect. In a lot of ways, I think this is why I loved the book so much. Usually, the hero is the one with all the focus and the power — even if the heroine helps out. But in this case, despite Miranda being in the dark about the mystery, and not having control of her fate in the beginning, she really gains control at the end and I really liked how that played out.

Firelight was pure utter nomilicious. I loved the atmospheric, tense and imaginative paranormal romance and I adore how cliched tropes was tossed out of orbit because it made it feel so fresh. And the added factor that this is a re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast with several twists, it’s like the cherry on top of a triple orgasmic chocolate sundae. Kristen Callihan, you have promoted yourself as an autobuy author for me!

I give Firelight a B+

By Has

Has is a voracious reader and a geek at heart! She is a fan of most sub-genres of romance and fantasy, but especially loves fantasy and some sci fi. She's currently looking out for historical romances with unusual settings, and fantasy romance, in the vein of Anne Bishop and Elizabeth Vaughan who are on her list of favourite authors. She's also a fan of authors such as Tamora Pierce, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, Lisa Kleypas and Nalini Singh. She is always on the look out for new authors and loves the feeling of discovering a brand new author and books she loves.

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