Firelight, the first book in the Darkest London series, is a supernatural romantic adventure of a different sort. When Miranda’s ruined father announces that she is to wed the much-gossiped-about and terrible Lord Archer (well, he says it’s her choice – but he also says he’ll throw her out of the house either way) she’s none too pleased by the concept, but decides to make the most of it. Of course, what she doesn’t realize is that the two of them may be the only ones in the whole world who could complete one another.
This is a paranormal historical romance with a dash of fantasy thrown in, but it’s a bit different from your general werewolves and vampires sort of paranormal romance. (Well, weres in general, I suppose, since they’re not *always* wolves.) And while you probably won’t be terribly surprised when the mystery of who done it is uncovered, let’s be fair – you’re not here for a mystery story. You’re here for the tentative, sometimes destructive, sometimes sweet way the two leads come together, learn one another, and find a balance with one another right?
Well, on that count, I think this book really works. The main characters are both really likeable people who have genuine reasons to angst over their life choices and circumstances. While Archer does sometimes go on a bit, you understand why, and it never falls into the sort of melodrama that just drives me away from this sort of book. And Miranda, while she occasionally freaks out too, does so for far briefer times and even more understandable reasons. The two of them verbally spar in an entertaining, whip-quick way and Miranda’s forthrightness means that there’s a lot less of the big misunderstanding than you might get from other books of this type. If something is bothering her, she either doesn’t or cannot hide it. It’s never quite clear which it is. :)
You see, Miranda has a secret ability – one she’s used almost exclusively to destructive ends in the past, although she did not always mean to. She fears losing control of that ability and hurting people, especially innocents. On the other hand, Archer suffers from a disfigurement he will not explain to the world, and wears a literal mask to hide it even from his new wife. But as she’s trying to figure out what happened to him and why he hides so, someone else is angry at Archer’s return to England at all, and sets about trying to make him regret his decisions.
We have an interesting supporting cast here – the tut-tutting maid, the old friends of Archer’s who may or may not be glad to see him back, the Scottish Ranulfs who blame Archer for an injury done to one of their own years earlier, Archer’s old flame, Miranda’s old partner in crime and, of course, the sisters who are central to the later books in the series… all are fascinating in their own right, even with the limited screen time some of them get. And while I did say there’s no vampires and weres in this romance, the book drops some anvil-sized hints that they’re among our cast, setting up, again, for later books.
So, having read the second book in this series and now the first, I can say without reservation that I enjoy them, I’ll probably be reading on, and if romantic adventures combined with period mystery and action is something you think you’ll enjoy, give this one a look!