All that changes when Lord Benjamin Archer blackmails Miranda’s father into marrying her off to the wealthy recluse. Although rich as Croesus, no one knows how old Archer is or what he looks like: he wears a full mask and gloves everywhere – all the time. Why would he want to wed a penniless nobody when his title and fortune would make even the fickle ton overlook his mysterious ways and offer up their marriageable daughters?
The mysteries only deepen as Miranda and Archer start their married life together. Archer keeps himself masked and gloved even when home, and Miranda longs to see what is under his disguise. As they grow closer, both fear that deadly secrets could tear their burgeoning love apart. Meanwhile there’s a killer on the loose in London. Someone is murdering Archer’s closest friends one by one and sending pieces to Archer as a message. Will Miranda have the courage and strength to not only stand by Archer, but to uncover his secrets and stop the killer before Archer himself becomes a victim?
This novel is set in 1881, a period of reform and change in England, and that social revolution definitely flavors this novel. After all, Lord Benjamin Archer is, well, a peer of the realm while Miranda is merely the daughter of a wealthy tradesman. Additionally, Miranda has more freedom of movement than her precarious social standing, built on wealth instead of nobility) would normally allow, and is often heedless of earlier conventions such as chaperones and propriety. Setting Firelight in this historical era allows Miranda to be more of a believable heroine than if she had been a Regency character. She is not only intelligent but has learned to fight and demands to be a part of the action rather than stay dutifully at home awaiting the outcome. Adding in the paranormal elements (which themselves are incredibly imaginative) provides another layer of interest. Though romance genre archetypes do exist in the novel, they are carefully woven into this framework and create a very readable, very unique plot.
Note: Book two in this Darkest London series is Moonglow, and while I enjoyed it I did not find it to be as compelling as Firelight. It was a little more traditional in plot than Firelight.I have Winterblaze, the third book, on hold. The fourth book, Shadowdance, comes out in December 2013.
Callihan, Kristen. The Darkest London Book 1: Firelight. New York: Forever, 2012.