Jenn's Reviews > Firelight

Firelight by Kristen Callihan
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Apr 06, 12

bookshelves: e-book, own, review-written
Read in April, 2012

RECEIVED FROM: Net Galley For Review


***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS***


Benjamin Archer is cursed, forced to live his life away from society and hide his face behind a mask. But when he encounters the beautiful Miranda Ellis, he’s met the one thing he can’t deny himself – her. Though he marries her he’s determined to keep from her his secrets in fear of her turning from him as everyone else in his past has done. But when his friends start turning up dead and Archer is the prime suspects in the murders he knows he didn’t commit he wonders if his presence in her life has put Miranda in danger as well. When Archer tries to send Miranda from his life, she refuses to go. Miranda has her own secrets she has no intention of sharing and she’s finally met the one thing she refuses to lose – Archer. Can they climb the walls erected by the secrets they keep to find the love they both desire or will the secrets they keep be the end of them both?

I took a little longer to review this book because I wanted to give myself time to forget the details from first reading and enjoy the story fresh if that makes any sense. The first time I read this and Ember I was barreling through pages not even taking them time to review because I was so engulfed in the story and I felt my review for Ember was harsher than it should have been because I didn’t give myself enough time between reads to still have each scene come as a bit of surprise. It was too long between reads to review without rereading and too close to get the full enjoyment out of the story. So 47 books or so later I came back to Firelight able to give it a fresh read and delight in the pleasures of this book again. (Yes I know I read a lot, but there are worse habits to have.) I’m glad I gave myself more time before rereading it because I was able to enjoy the story just as much as I did the first time because though I had a vague remembrance of the plot and my favorite scenes it wasn’t detailed enough to not enjoy every plot twist. Callihan’s debut novel was an absolutely phenomenal read, not just once but twice. Only three things bothered me about the novel and if you’ve ever read my reviews before you’ll know how nitpicky I am so that’s very little for me to be bothered about. My first issue with this novel is the timeline between this and Ember. No, I didn’t take the time to sit down and figure out how many years have passed her or what date it was there, but it just didn’t seem like the amount of time passing lined up right. I may be wrong about this, but reading it, it just didn’t seem like the amount of years he did each thing lined up with the amount of years passed etc. I don’t know if I’m explaining that well but I hope it’s understood what I’m saying. My second issue with the novel is there was this awkward touching tongues scene that I think was supposed to be kind of spicy and erotic but came off as just strange to me.

My final issue was with the ending and this will be a bit of a spoiler to those that haven’t read the novel yet but I really can’t explain my issue without giving away some details. So you might chose to skip this paragraph if you haven’t yet read the novel. While the finale of this book was definitely exciting and gripping the story also left some unanswered questions that don’t appear to in the plan of being answered for the next series novel. Meaning from what I’ve read the second novel in the series focuses on MacKinnon who I am definitely intrigued about, but since Miranda and Archer are likely to be at best secondary characters in that story it’s unlikely that novel will take the time to answer the questions I still had after finishing this one. Namely did Miranda still have her gift after the final conflict in the novel? If so is Archer now normal and if he is considering what happened the other times they became involved in passionate activities can they still do so without injuring him? I honestly think this bears mentioning considering during their first kiss she scorched a table and during their one sex scene the room was filled with steam at its conclusion. His curse protected him in those scenes but without the curse is it still safe for him to be with her? Considering how engaged readers become in these character lives and struggles I think it’s important to have the answers to these questions and since they aren’t the focus of the next novel I’m wondering if we’ll ever receive those answers.

Beyond those three above issues the book is an excellent read from beginning to end. The well written close third person narrative is a fast paced and exciting read from beginning to end. Callihan took the time to develop a nice back story for both of the leading characters and while she does provide a lot of that in Ember to really flesh out what made them the people they are in Firelight, she does still offer a good portion of that history in Firelight. Even though the story is set in Regency London the book reads as if Callihan put a lot of time into world building at least in the mythology behind what makes the characters the way they are when we are introduced to them. What I really loved about this is she weaves this history to build an explanation behind the characters insecurities with skill. She doesn’t just dump information onto the reader at once time but doles it out slowly as we spend more time getting to know her characters. She also managed to write a thrilling romance without rushing the love story or trying to pass of a bunch of sex scenes as love. The book does have a couple of spicy foreplay scenes but contains only one sex scene which is definitely vivid and spicy, but serves to accent the relationship between these characters rather than be the focus of it. Though Miranda and Archer marry in the first few chapters of the novel their interaction for most of the book is verbal. Even though Miranda is beautiful Archer pushes to know her mind and she in turn searches for his secrets. Their emotional attachment to each other is logical because it’s not just an instant physical attraction, even though that’s present too, it’s a meeting of minds as well. The characters take the time to know one and other and work diligently to understand one and other. Since they share similar pains they both take care to hide, it makes sense that they would be so drawn to the other one because in each other they’ve probably met the only person in the world who really understand their life. Callihan takes the time to really capture love in this book instead of just trying to pass physical attraction off as love like some her peers in the genre do. I’m genuinely impressed when a romance novelist takes the time to do this and for a debut novelist she establishes with this work that she’ll soon be a household name.

In addition to a thrilling love story Callihan provide an exciting mystery filled with murder, secrets and paranormal aspects. What I love is that she doesn’t just use this story as filler or background for the romance. She gives each of her story lines equal attention fleshing both out extremely well and providing an excellent story on two fronts. This book will provide appeal to those who enjoy romance as well as those who are just looking for a historical version of urban fantasy. The story is an engaging page turner from beginning to end.

Callihan shows a real talent for character development in this work. Miranda is a deeply developed character who is easy to relate to even though readers are unlikely to have anything in common with her. We’re given the history that shaped her life and drawn deeply into her emotional struggles both with love and with her own gifts. Miranda demonstrates many strength and many weaknesses however is most definitely a strong female lead. Archer has so many demons in his past that isn’t almost impossible not to be sucked into his inner struggles. Again he’s got both strengths and weakness as well as an extreme depth of emotions. What I love most about this character is this hidden sense of honor. Both leading characters a multifaceted, intriguing and well developed. Many secondary characters like McKinnon, Eula, Victoria, Leland and Miranda’s sisters were well developed and original. They were brought to life with vivid descriptions and memorable personalities. Though the story does have some characters who were more background than anything else, even some of the lesser developed secondary character were at least distinctive and didn’t blend together. It was hard to say what I liked more about this novel, the stunning plot or the intriguing characters. Callihan demonstrates a strength for developing both in this novel.

Overall this isn’t a story to be missed. If Firelight is any indication Callihan will soon become a household name as recognizable as Sherrilyn Kenyon in the genre. Her talent rivals that of some of the masters in the paranormal and historical romance genre. The story is highly original and too engaging to put down. Most definitely recommended.
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