FIRELIGHT (Darkest London #1) by Kristen Callihan
Historical paranormal romance
372 pages, paperback
Available now (January 2012)
Review copy purchased
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.
There's something so intriguing about a man in a mask, cloaked in shadows with a really bad reputation. *shivers in delight* I think it's my exposure to Victoria Holt and other gothics early on that brings about my masked, damaged man love. Archer lives up to his bad reputation, scaring the ton as he races about town in his black carriage. He scares everyone but Miranda who looks beyond the mask to the man underneath.
Because Miranda has her own secrets and has her own mask that she hides behind. They're a great couple -- battling each other and what society thinks of them, hiding their secrets from everyone including each other. Miranda slowly peels away all of Archer's defenses and even his mask, discovering the terrible curse that is changing his very nature. I love when, in historicals, the woman has to fight for her man, whether it's battling his stubbornness or external forces. Miranda's a tough cookie, even though she's afraid of her powers. But it's her powers that save her man and *sigh* bring about the happily every after.
WINTERBLAZE (Darkest London #3) by Kristen Callihan
Historical paranormal romance
400 pages, paperback
Available February 26, 2013
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review copy provided by publisher
Once blissfully in love . . . Poppy Lane is keeping secrets. Her powerful gift has earned her membership in the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, but she must keep both her ability and her alliance with the Society from her husband, Winston. Yet when Winston is brutally attacked by a werewolf, Poppy's secrets are revealed, leaving Winston's trust in her as broken as his body. Now Poppy will do anything to win back his affections . . .
Their relationship is now put to the ultimate test. Winston Lane soon regains his physical strength but his face and heart still bear the scars of the vicious attack. Drawn into the darkest depths of London, Winston must fight an evil demon that wants to take away the last hope of reconciliation with his wife. As a former police inspector, Winston has intelligence and logic on his side. But it will take the strength of Poppy's love for him to defeat the forces that threaten to tear them apart.
Holy cow. For two people who are fighting and seriously pissed off at each other, Poppy and Winston certainly do have a LOT of hot, passionate sex. Guess, in this case, their love truly shines through when they're literally naked with one another. (And, ohmigosh, those scenes are seriously H.O.T.)
While the bulk of the story is in the present, there are a series of flashbacks that show how the couple met and fell in love. It's sweet, how Winston fell like a ton of bricks for Poppy. Then we return to the present, after Winston's found out his wife's secret that she's kept from him their entire marriage. Winston, his pride wounded because he thought he knew everything about her, runs away from her and she has to track him down in order to protect him from a dangerous demon and to win him back.
Poppy kicks ass. No, she's not dressed in leather, carrying a sword, like in many of my urban fantasies. She uses her brains and her words and her totally awesome freezing powers to take out the bad guys and subdue the most reluctant of husbands. Don't mess with Poppy, people.
This series is fabulous! I love when there are connections made throughout a series, whether it be through a group of friends, warriors or siblings. The Ellis sisters are all powerful women in their own right and, it's so enjoyable to see them fall hard for such different men, all of whom bring out the best in them. Now, that's romance.