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Archive for the ‘Historical Paranormal Romance’ Category

(Darkest London, #1)

Genre: Historical Paranormal/Fantasy Romance (Victorian, 1881)

Cover Blurb:

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.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

The audio version of FIRELIGHT (Darkest London, #1) is the first Kristen Callihan novel I have encountered and I was completely enthralled from beginning to end. What a fabulous story, the like of which I have never before experienced; this genre being well outside my comfort zone of Historical Fiction or Historical Romance. I couldn’t begin to categorise FIRELIGHT – paranormal, fantasy, myth? And all combined with a deliciously sensuous romance. Had I not heeded the recommendation of a well-respected reviewer, I would have missed out on this very unusual story – it just goes to show that we should experiment or miss out on some excellent writing.

One darkly dangerous night in the depths of Victorian London, Lord Benjamin Archer saves Miranda Ellis from a pair of thugs. He little realises that the tantalising flame haired beauty is more than capable of taking care of herself. Miranda hides a strange and powerful gift and one which she needs must keep a tight rein on, but which can be called on if the need arises. The meeting leaves Archer shaken and besotted with the 19-year-old daughter of a man he despises. Indeed, Archer had been on his way to end the life of the disreputable and corrupt Hector Ellis for an unforgivable act perpetrated on himself which ended in the violent death of a loyal and true friend.

Lord Archer is an infamous and sinister recluse feared by Victorian London society. Cloaked in shadows and wearing a mask to hide his features, only adds fuel to the rumours which surround him. The reasons for the mask are unknown to all but a few of his oldest and closest friends, and said mask only adds to his sinister facade. Archer knows he should not pursue Miranda but he is unable to stop himself, wanting what he knows he cannot really have. He strikes up a bargain with Miranda’s unscrupulous father and after three years returns to claim his bride.

Although at first Miranda resists the marriage, she is eventually coerced into it by her father and finds Archer much less menacing in the flesh; a reluctant liking, respect and tentative love begins to grow. She soon comes to understand that her husband has deep and dark secrets, leaving him vulnerable and lonely despite his outwardly fearsome guise. Archer adores Miranda and soon realises that his beautiful wife is fearlessly determined and becoming fiercely protective of himself.

For the main part of the story their marriage is chaste, both afraid for reasons of their own, to consummate it. This doesn’t detract from the longing, wanting and sheer sensual sexuality which emanates from the pair when they are together. Ms. Callihan, with consummate skill, pulls the reader into their ever tightening need and it is always a case of when rather than if it will happen, and when it does…. It explodes right off the page! For my part, the fact that Miranda loves and desires a man whose face she hasn’t seen is compelling – a real and raw, unselfish love.

The background plot is set against the seedy backstreets of Victorian London, its sights and smells expertly and knowledgeably described by Kristen Callihan, and masterfully penned to reveal undreamt of evil. Men are horrifically murdered and mutilated, and the fear and horror ratchets up by degrees as the extent of Archer’s involvement is revealed to Miranda. His honourable and selfless determination to protect her and annihilate the force responsible takes centre stage, with the terrifying, apparently inevitable outcome – the destruction of himself, proving that there is no greater love. The perpetrator of the crimes I guessed – mainly through a series of elimination, but in no way did I expect the outcome or the way the final scenes would play out – utterly riveting, compulsive and imaginatively achieved.

Narrator Moira Quirk has perfectly captured the many characters introduced (which at one point I did have trouble keeping up with, although this sorted itself out as time passed) – Miranda, confident, authoritative but very feminine and Archer, with just the right amount of huskiness introduced into his voice to make him sound mysterious – the man behind the mask – but still oh-so-sexy. Ms. Quirk totally captures the scene in which Archer is unmasked to Miranda, the sensuality, sexuality and vulnerability – so moving which, in the hands of a less talented narrator, could have been ruined. Even the London street boy, cocky Jack-the-lad, appears initially threatening then later carefully protective – again the subtle nuances in Moira Quirk’s performance totally capture this.

MY VERDICT: I loved my first foray into the paranormal (if that’s what it is), listening deep into the night as I NEEDED to know the ending.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 

Listened to March 2015

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CABOT #1

Setting: London, England, 1820

“Our sister is marrying a vampire.”

When the ever practical Caroline Cabot first hears those words from the lips of her fanciful youngest sister, she accuses Portia of having a wild imagination.

But when she discovers their sister Vivienne is actually being courted by Adrian Kane, the mysterious viscount rumored to be a vampire, she decides to accept his invitation to a midnight supper and do some sleuthing of her own. To both her delight and her dismay, she soon finds herself falling under Kane’s bewitching spell.

After all, what’s a proper young lady to do when her sister’s suitor arouses more than just her suspicions?

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

After Midnight, the first book in the Cabot series, is a tongue-in-cheek mix of vampire story and historical romance. It’s a delightful blend of surprise plot twists, charming characters, sparkling dialogue and humour.

Enigmatic, charming, seductive and passionate, Adrian is definitely a hero to make your heart beat faster. I couldn’t help adoring him for his unwavering love for his brother, Julian. It’s wonderful to see how protective he is towards Caroline and the sacrifices he is willing to make to keep her safe. I smiled at his obvious jealousy when he finds Caroline and Constable Larkin chatting:

“I must say, Constable Larkin that you are in dire need of either a valet or a wife”.
“Which position are you applying for, Miss Cabot.”
At that resonant growl, Caroline glanced over her shoulder to find Adrian Kane looming over the chaise. He was glowering down at them with little evidence of his “notorious charm”.

Caroline is smart, practical and outspoken and it’s obvious she loves her sisters and would do anything to see them happy, even forfeit her own happiness. She feels guilty over her attraction to the man her sister loves but Ms Medeiros resolves this obstacle in a surprising but satisfying way.

I did figure out the truth about Adrian before the big revelation. If you read the dialogue between the characters carefully, then as David Frost used to say on the TV series ‘Through the Keyhole’ – “The clues are there”. What I did enjoy was watching the other characters’ reactions when the true situation is revealed.

If I have one criticism, it’s that I found the sexual tension between Adrian and Caroline somewhat lacking but the love scenes are deliciously sensual, particularly the mirror scene.

Ms Medeiros’s books always have a rich array of secondary characters. There’s brooding Julian, fond of spouting Byron; spirited Portia, with the overactive imagination; beautiful, serene Vivienne; Constable Larkin with the abominable fashion sense and Duvalier, the suitably menacing villain.

There is lots of humour in this story as well and here’s one of my favourites…

She (Caroline) was unknotting the scarf, fighting the urge to strangle her sister with it, when a pungent aroma drifted to her nose. She leaned forward sniffing at Portia’s skin. “What on earth is that stench? Is it garlic?”
Portia stiffened. “I should say not. It’s simply my new perfume.” Sticking her nose in the air, she swept past Caroline, trailing the earthy scent behind her.

This is another well-written, engaging and funny historical romance from one of my favourite authors.

RATING: ★★★★½

SENSUALITY RATING : HOT

Read January 2012

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