Firelight by Kristen Callihan

London, 1881Once 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
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Publication Date: 31st January, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
ISBN: 1455508594
Original Language: English
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal/Fairytale
Source: NetGalley
Buy the Book: Amazon
Lootability: Grab it and go!

Firelight is the debut novel from supernatural romance author Kristen Callihan and, oh boy, this book certainly gets as hot as the cover suggests. Most definitely based on Beauty and the Beast or, for those of you with a more extensive fairytale knowledge, the Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun and West of the Moon. If you aren't familiar with the tale, Jessica Day George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is a good introductory novel.
Miranda is the beautiful daughter of a failed, and destitute merchant, with a deadly secret. Lord Archer faces the scorn of his aristocratic peers because of the mask he hides his face behind, and his violent temper. When Archer approaches Miranda's father for her hand in marriage, Miranda knows she has no other choice than to accept her mysterious suitor.

What I liked: I adored both Miranda and Archer; they're both dynamic characters who blossom into a lovely couple. They both have some frightening trust issues (not surprisingly considering their situations) and none of their friends are especially reliable.
The banter between the two was funny and kept me interested in their dialogue. The development of their feelings was natural, unlike a lot of paranormal romances I've read recently.
This definitely felt like a Beauty and the Beast story, but the supernatural elements surrounding Miranda's pyrotechnics and Archer's affliction really made this story. In some ways, the intensity of this story reminded me of Angela Carter's The Courtship of Mr Lyon from her anthology of fairytales. There is a real strength between Miranda and Archer that calls the characters in The Courtship of Mr Lyon to mind. They are willing to give up anything just to be together.

What I didn't like: I found most of the secondary characters were a little lacking. Miranda's sisters Poppy and Daisy were darlings but they weren't very interesting, nor were any of the fellas from the West Moon Club. They were sculpted into interesting shapes but out of a boring material. The sequel will have Daisy and Ian McKinnon in the lead roles so I'll be interested to see how they develop then.
Mostly, I would have liked things to be a little less complicated. I was a little overwhelmed by Archer's 'infliction', and the eventual explanation for it.
Firelight was a fun way to recreate an old story in 17th London, and I'm looking forward to the sequel Moonglow due out in August.


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