“3 1/2 stars. Great premise, but this is very much a first book. However, I think the author has a really interesting style and I'm very intrigued to see how her writing develops in coming books.”Cassandra Dean wrote this review Sunday, April 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Oh I love the Beauty and the Beast Tale ! The author takes the well told story and whips into her own vision, beautifully. Miranda the strong women and the Super sexy Archer who hides behind his mystery.
Archer has decided that Miranda is the one for him. He will marry her ! She accepts the proposal, grudgingly. Not out of love but obligation. He is framed for murders that he did not commit. She believes him, but his secrets soon drag her into more troubles.
Both are hiding things, both believing it for the best. Secrets have a way of reveling themselves in terrible ways with harsh outcomes.
I loved the world building and scenery developed through the story and look forward to more from this author in the future. ”
“Note: This review covers both “Firelight” and “Ember”, and you will be spoiled. Just a warning!
I will admit – I’m a sucker for characters that have to hide behind masks. When I was a kid, I adored “The Man in the Iron Mask”, and that love of masked characters has stayed with me since. Benjamin Archer in “Firelight” is no exception – he’s an awesome character, and the book itself is a great alternate look into a universe where the paranormal/supernatural exists quietly (well, in this case, not so quietly) alongside regular humans. This book is definitely not for the YA market, and it’s kind of refreshing having adults doing…adult things? Every once in awhile. I really enjoyed “Firelight” in all of its dark, mixed fantasy (lots of different legends and cultures mixed in this one – I loved that!), so I’m really looking forward to the sequel when it comes out later this year.
This world that Callihan has created really does feel like a real world – the worldbuilding is wonderful, and quite realistic even in all of its fantasy. The characters feel full and real, rounded out and very 3D – with the one exception of the villainess, Victoria. There was the one large hiccup in the book that did kind of interrupt things a bit. Victoria’s character, as it’s revealed later, as the main antagonist should have been far more filled out, regardless if she’s human or not. We’ve seen her referenced in terms of her beauty, her cunning, and her blatant seduction of men, but we don’t really find out more about her until the end of the book where it feels like the rest about her is told and not really shown at all. The only thing that kind of redeems that is the epic sword fight for “possession” of Archer at the very end, where it’s literally good against evil, black against white, fire against ice. Callihan really ratchets up the stakes for both Miranda and Archer very well there, but at the cost of filling out Victoria’s character.
There’s also quite a bit of repetition when it comes to the physical description of Miranda herself – we get it. She’s gorgeous. She’s lovely. And everyone’s in love with her. Enough. I’m hoping in the next book we’ll have a little less of the narration about Miranda’s supernatural beauty and a little more on her actual character (though she was filled out quite nicely in the important areas – no pun intended), and little more exposition on her thoughts and motives. Also, the repeated chases after Archer (which thankfully ended around the third quarter of the book), were a little much, and really could have been cut for the most part when it’s just Miranda demanding to know more about him as the motivation. I didn’t find that as a good motive for tension, but rather as filler, and I’m not a huge fan of when authors do that.
The romance and sex scenes, though, really make up for a lot of this – there are quite a few, and while seemingly chaste at first, they get hot and fast. And Callihan writes it all pretty tastefully – she could have chosen different words, but she chose the right ones, and it all just kind of flowed. You really feel for poor Miranda and her mostly unconsummated love/marriage/romance with Archer, but things work out in the end, and that’s always a happy thing. But man, some of those scenes! Really steamy and awesome.
The ending itself? I adored it. I LOVED the epic fight scene and wish it had been a little longer, but it largely satisfied me in the sense of the exploding tension between Archer, Victoria, and Miranda. There were parts that felt a little rushed (the epilogue itself felt like a lot of telling and not enough showing once Archer is freed from the curse), and I could have stood for a little more explanation as to how Miranda was able to lift the curse instead of just everyone having a largely happy ending. A lot of the last fourth of the book did feel rushed with the explanation of Victoria, the curse, and the West Moon Club, and that was a bit unfortunate – but the scenes that actually showed the Club convening for their ritual with Victoria was really almost cinematic in quality, and I wish there’d been more of that within that last fourth of the book when the origins of the West Moon Club are uncovered.
As for “Ember”, the prequel novella released right after “Firelight” (literally, it was released the next day), we get to see more of Miranda and Archer’s backstories – including his search for a “cure” for his curse and Miranda’s discovery of her powers and how her house is brought to its knees by both her fire magic and Archer’s cunning. I think that all of this could have been included within “Firelight” – intercut as flashbacks between some of the larger arc-propelling action scenes without it having to be cut and made into a novella. I loved all of what I had in “Ember” – it all felt very polished and very solid, as opposed to my aforesaid issues with parts of “Firelight”. It should have been kept in “Firelight” and the book itself would have been a whole lot stronger than it ended up being.
Final verdict overall? With the really strong scenes and some of the weaker scenes that were more telling than showing, the strong arc-propelling scenes make up for the weaker scenes and the rest comes out as a wash. The prequel makes up for all of the weaker scenes within the first book, however, and the ending of “Firelight” is so satisfying that I did end up being very entertained by it all and generally enjoyed it. All of that said, I really, really like where “Darkest London” is going as a series and you can bet I’m really excited for the next book in the series, “Moonglow”, which should be out later next year. This one definitely needs to make its way into Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout (one of the most fun geeky book clubs for girls, you guys!) as a read of the month, and it’s generally just really fun. If you like your heroines Victorian, your world paranormal, and your sex scenes hot, definitely go for the “Darker London” series. It’s out now via Grand Central Press in mass paperback and ebook.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)”
“I was quite pleased with this book. I did not expect to get far in this book after reading the prologue, but the first chapter had me hooked. I will be reading the next in the series.”Stacy M wrote this review Tuesday, March 13, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales
Quick & Dirty: This gothic retelling of Beauty and the Beast is sensually moving. The plot is an intriguing mix between action and mystery that will help keep the pages turning. An excellent read.
Opening Sentence: The knowledge that Archer would soon end the life of another cut at his soul with every step he took.
First of all, I just have to say I absolutely loved Firelight. I don’t know if it was the retelling of Beauty and the Beast that really made me fall for this book or the fact that Miranda is one of the strongest female characters that I have read in a long time or that Archer is mysteriously sexy.
Firelight begins with Archer and Miranda meeting in a dark alley. Archer wants to kill Miranda’s father for sins against him but after he meets Miranda his plans change. Miranda stirs something within him that he hasn’t felt for a while and he decides that he must marry her. Three years pass before Archer comes back to London and makes good on his plans to marry Miranda.
Miranda has only one day to accept Archer’s marriage proposal. She must accept with her own free will, but her father tells her if she doesn’t accept she will no longer be welcome in his home. Since Miranda blames herself for her father’s downfall she accepts the proposal. Miranda stands up to Archer, she doesn’t let him scare her and it doesn’t take her long to figure out that Archer was the mysterious stranger from the alley three years before.
Archer wants nothing more than to have Miranda marry him. After their marriage, someone is killing Archer’s old associates, framing him for the murders. He manages to avoid being arrested for these crimes. Miranda does believe he isn’t the one causing these murders, especially after they are confronted by the perpetrator. Archer goes out by himself a lot looking for the murderer as Miranda tries to find out about his past.
Miranda and Archer are both hiding secrets from each other. Archer hides himself behind masks and clothing, not allowing Miranda to see what he is hiding. She tries very hard to uncover his secrets. Although, Archer doesn’t realize that she is hiding something from him.
Archer is a selfish beast, he wants Miranda for his own. Okay, he really isn’t that selfish. He treats her with respect and he looks forward to her well-being even after he knows someone is out to kill them. He hides himself from her because he believes that if she knew what he was that she would be disgusted by him. Like all men, he believes that if he leaves her in the dark that she will not be hurt by what is haunting him. Unfortunately that is not the case when she is framed for a murder and almost killed herself.
I can’t really get into a lot about why I think Miranda is such a strong heroine. A lot of it has to do with the terrific ending to Firelight. She doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap. She stands up for herself and Archer when she feels people are being unfair to him.
Firelight is an excellent novel. The world building was brilliant with a villain I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. The pacing kept me so engaged with the plot that I never wanted to put the book down. I absolutely cannot wait until the next book in the series, Moonlight. Kristen Callihan is definitely going on my must-buy list.
A choked cry broke from her, the silken wet tip of his tongue sending a bolt of heat to her core. Archer made a sound close to pain. For a moment, their tongues retreated. And then.
She flicked her tongue, a small lick. And found his again. The sound of their breathing filled her ears as their tongues caressed, retreated, and met again, learning each other. Every flick, each wet slide of his tongue felt like a direct touch to the center of her sex, until she throbbed there, grew so hot she feared she might combust.
Their lips never melded, only danced with the possibility of it. It was not a kiss. It was something infinitely worse. It was torture. And God help her if she didn’t want more.
Their breathing became pants. Her fingers fisted her skirts with near violence. His tongue slipped deeper, lighting across her lips, invading her mouth for one hot moment. Miranda moaned, her knees buckling. Archer’s big hand clasped her nape, hard and impatient. Now he would kiss her, take her. Now. Her body screamed for that sweet release.
He wrenched his mouth away even as his arm crushed her against his hard chest. Her heart leapt to her throat, her senses jumbled and confused until she heard the strange thump of something hitting the wall behind her. She froze, panting softly, her nose buried in the black folds of his suit coat for what felt like an eternity but was at most a moment in time.
Archer swore sharply and then moved, leaving her teetering on her feet. She righted quickly and found him glaring around, his frame held tight as a spring. But the long hall behind them was empty. Slowly he turned his attention to the wall before them. The silver hilt of a dagger embedded deep in the plaster still quivered from the impact.
Archer’s breath hitched visibly, his eyes narrowing to slits. The force of the throw was unmistakable. Had he not acted quickly, the wicked dagger would have now rested deep within Miranda’s back.
“What the devil?” she hissed, disbelief and sheer terror making her voice unsteady and her heart pound.
The Darkest London Series:
FTC Advisory: Grand Central Publishing provided me with a copy of Firelight. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ”
“4.5 STARS Miranda's mother died leaving her in the hands of her greedy father who taught he how to pinch items. Since she was blamed for the fire that burned his warehouse Miranda feels obligated when her father makes her steal for their income. She is soon promised to the Lord Benjamin Archer the mysterious masked man.
Miranda is intrigued by Archer and wants to know more about him and what is behind the mask. Archer loves her and wants to share himself but is afraid she will run away if she sees who he really is. After their wedding older men connected with Archer are being murdered by a masked man which all but Miranda believe is Archer. Can discovering what is under Archer's mask unmask the murderer?
I love Beauty and the Beast and have heard some poor retelling of the story but was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this novel. The Victorian setting with swashbuckling action mixed with paranormal romance made for an original and exciting novel. I love the passion and romance of Archer and Miranda. I am ready for book two, please.”
“*Page-turning, mysterious, intriguing, new debut author, must read 2012
Kristen Callihan's debut, Firelight, had me enthralled from the start.
Miranda Ellis is a young woman, with a unique quality, she can provoke and control fire at her will. Not many know, of her power as she has tried to learn to control and conceal it. But, when needed it proves to be a deadly force, and has ruined her family's fortune. Her father thinks it's time for her to marry and a suitor has called for her.
Lord Benjamin Archer, a mysterious, man of wealth, who is feared amongst people due to his face, that he hides behind a mask. He is also dangerous and stealthy.
With Lord Archers face comes many secrets that are slowly unfolded throughout the story. As Lord Archer tries his best to conceal himself from Miranda, his new bride, she inturn tries her best to unveil his deep, dark, secret, and goes to great lengths to finally uncover the face behind the mask. Of course finding out the truth does not come without peril, as danger and mystery hides behind every shadow and person Miranda meets. As Miranda tries her best to uncover the truth, her new groom does his best to hide the truth and tries his best to look for a means out of his demise...
*The mystery of the face behind the mask proves to be an enjoyable read. As well as their heated passion that will slowly build throughout the book.
Callihan has a way of writing that will have you turning pages and have you engrossed into the story of what is hidden behind the mask. The build up of the passion these two feel for each other is erotic and lovely all at the same time.
My only gripe with the story, I wished, Callihan could of used her her great story telling skills and put them to use with Miranda's skill and power. I felt the action scenes involving Miranda to be lacking in the imagination department, and felt they were rushed at times. Miranda has confidence, and power, and I felt her strength in the first few chapters in this book, to be exciting! But as chapters wained on, she seemed to lose her confidence and seemed to be weak, at times, and unsure of herself. Her powers could of been used in so many more scenes and they could of been exciting and fierce.
Maybe it's just my love of action and powerful characters, that I felt this way. Do not let my thoughts deter you from reading this must read of 2012! 4 stars
“~* 4.5 Stars *~
Miranda Ellis doesn't want to marry a stranger, nor is she fond of the idea of being sold into matrimony for the money it would bring her father. For that matter, she has no idea why a man of wealth and status such as Lord Benjamin Aldo Fitzwilliam Wallace Archer, third Baron Archer of Umberslade, would have any interest in her for a wife. Regardless, her options are limited. She can either accept Lord Archer as a husband or be kicked out of her family home and forced into a life worse than that which she'd been living. Continue life as a thief - and less pleasant things - to barely scrape by or be able to eat regular meals and hold her head up in society as a peer.
Miranda is not a stupid woman. She agrees to marry the mysterious Lord Archer. And then she sees the man she has agreed to wed. Tall, strongly built, and completely covered from head to toe. Not an inch of hair or skin showing. Over his face is a hard, painted mask that reveals nothing but the color of his eyes. It seems the mysterious Lord Archer has secrets to keep.
Then again, Miranda has her own dark, desperate secret. One she has no intention of sharing any more than her new husband appears to have any intention of sharing his. She does wonder though, what it is about Archer that stirs her blood and tightens her stomach, making her yearn for something she can't name and doesn't understand.
He's a selfish bastard. He knows it. Still, for the three years since he first met Miranda, not a day went by that he didn't dream of her, think of her, and ache to be with her. He'd hoped to meet her without the mask but couldn't bear to wait any longer for a cure that may never come. He needed her near him too desperately for that.
It's an impossible situation, though. He is not worthy of her, cursed as he is. Still, something in Lord Benjamin Archer refuses to quench the glimmer of hope he has left - to find a cure, to be free of the mask, and to be with the woman he's loved since the moment he laid eyes on her. And he has every intention of taking as much joy as he can in her presence while he races for the answers.
The game changes drastically, though, when the first victim of a vicious killer turns up. An old friend of Archer is butchered gruesomely and Archer is named as the alleged villain. Suddenly finding a cure isn't nearly as important as keeping Miranda safe from a deranged lunatic and out of the line of fire. Unfortunately for his peace of mind, Miranda seems to think the exact thing about him, and she's woefully unprepared to handle what his past has finally, after all these years, brought to his door. In truth, even with all his abilities, Archer may not be prepared for it either.
Firelight is an exquisitely crafted historical paranormal romance that blew me away with its originality and heart. I've never read anything quite like it. Imbued with a richly Gothic tone that added gravitas to the world-building and plot development, both masterfully woven throughout the narrative, the book was splendidly atmospheric and precisely set for maximum emotional impact.
I liked Miranda as the heroine. Fiesty, fierce, determined, she's a hell of a woman, one who didn't let convention hold her back. I get so tired of high society socialites and debutantes of the ton in historical romance, women who are bound by the constraints of class to the point that independent thinking is considered a faux pas. With the reversal of her family fortune and lack of title, Miranda is not a member of the peerage and she has a sense of independence and intelligence that I found very appealing. I also loved that her past is checkered and her ability has given her a sense of safety that's molded her personality as she's navigated some pretty dark waters while growing up.
When it came to Archer...wow. I loved him to the depths of his scarred and oh-so-lonely soul from the moment he first races to the rooftop greenhouse following his marriage to Miranda. To that point he seemed so rigidly controlled, so poised, so...cutting and closed off and borderline defensive when they spoke just prior to exchanging their vows, then he gets her home and you find out just what an emotional mess he really is when it comes to her, and how self-deprecating he is about his weaknesses and faults. I just adored him, and my heart broke for his circumstance...even as I cursed Callihan for being so dastardly crafty doling out the bits of information about just what his circumstance is.
I don't like flipping to the end of a book to find out how things turn out, or assure myself everything's going to be okay, but I have to admit...I came damn close to doing just that so very many times in this book as the grim reality of what Archer and Miranda were facing closed around them like a juggernaut of hopelessness. It was captivating, and it had me totally caught up in their story as it unfolded. I couldn't wait to see how it all turned out, and have never been so unsure about whether a book was going to end well. And no, I'm not going to tell you if it did.
For all that I loved the book, though, there were a couple of things about it that didn't sit quite as well as the rest. I struggled with the beginning and felt I was missing something in the prologue and first chapter. As a general rule I don't think I have any right to complain about feeling like I've stumbled into movie theater halfway into the movie when I pick up a book in an existing series and haven't read the previous books. When I'm reading the series debut, however, I'd appreciate not feeling like I missed some crucial story elements that may or may not exist in a prequel I haven't yet read.
That's actually a pet peeve of mine. I avoid most anthologies and don't read many novellas, but I don't think I should have to worry that I'm missing out on world or story setup for a series because I don't read every .5's in the series list.
Beyond that, though, I really didn't have many issues with this fabulous novel. I do wish Miranda's affinity for all things crackly and hot had been given more depth and explanation in the story. We're told she's had the ability to firestart from birth and doesn't really know where it came from or why she has it, and as a plot point, that never really worked for me. I would have also appreciated seeing her use it more often, control it better, own it in a way that she didn't quite manage in this book. The few times she does go supernova were fantastic and I would have loved to see more story surrounding it.
My only other minor quibble is near the end, which I'm loathe to mention in detail for spoiler sake. I'll only say that there was a startling lack of urgency in Miranda at a crucial part of the climax. It provided an opportunity to learn exactly what happened in the past that brought the story and characters to that point, but didn't make a whole lot of sense given the alleged level of desperation and critical timeline.
This dark, decadent blend of Gothic horror, heart-clenching romance, and paranormal presence was so brilliantly conceived and constructed that despite those few niggles, I was thoroughly entranced by the read. It's definitely one of my favorite books of the year to date and I can't wait to see what Callihan has dreamed up for the next installment. Hell, I'm thrilled to know that this is a series and there is a next installment. Creative. Original. Well-crafted. Intense. Exciting. Unique. Firelight truly is all that and more.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever books publisher Grand Central Publishing. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.
“This book just about ticked all of my boxes. I'm a fan of Paranormal Romance and an occasional dabbler in the Historical Romance genre, and this book is such a perfect blending of the two, coupled with exceptional storytelling, great characters and a captivating romance. I LOVED it!
I would urge anyone about to read this not to read any spoilery reviews, nor to read the prequel, Ember, first, because one of the biggest thrills for me with this book was the guessing game I had to play with regards to Archer's character and why he has to wear that damned mask! I knew very little of the plot going in. Basically just that it was a Beauty and the Beast type story with paranormal/supernatural stuff thrown in. I think that's the best way to approach it because you really are teased and tantalised with clues and it just wouldn't have been the same had I known what was under there before I was supposed to. Trying to work it out from the strange behaviour and occasional random comment from other characters was killing me! It was so frustrating that other people clearly knew and yet he wouldn't tell his wife, Miranda. And until she finds out, we are in the dark too. It made the book unputdownable.
Miranda, our leading lady also has a secret, but in her case we as a reader know the secret way before anyone else, so that was a lot less painful. It helped, I think, make it more believable that Miranda would fall in love with a man she's never laid eyes on as well. Because she of all people knows exactly what it means to have something you fear showing others in case they reject you for it. Their back stories really complemented each other.
Which brings me to the other thing that I loved- the romance! I loved both characters in equal measure, really. I might have gotten a bit cross with Archer occasionally. But even he admits that he can be an unpardonable ass at times. Some of his behaviour was borderline for me, like the alley scene for example. I wish he hadn't behaved that way. But he redeemed himself. And looking back now, knowing what I know (finally!), I can understand his fears and frustrations and forgive him. Kinda.
I also enjoyed much of the dialogue between the pair. It was possibly a touch sugary sweet towards the end, but most of it was lovely and had I not been tearing through the pages, unwilling to slow down, I could have found many great quotables to share with you.
To sum up, this wasn't a perfect novel, there were a couple of issues I could nitpick on if I was being a stickler, but I decided to go for 5 stars just because it was so original and the romance so captivating that it definitely belongs in the "I loved it" category" more than the "I really like it" one. I can't wait to read the next one, Moonglow, when it comes out in August 2012.”