Synopsis via goodreads:
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.
I don’t quite know what to say about this book. It has left me conflicted, because on the one hand, it has things that I love. There’s a kick-ass heroine. There’s a Beauty and the Beast story, complete with scarred on the outside hero who really just wants to be loved. The world-building feels fresh and original and unique, not like the same retread of a tired story I’ve read before.
I should have loved this book, and the only thing I can say about why I didn’t is that it’s the reverse of the problem I have with spicy foods. Being a midwesterner, I was raised on a fairly bland, unadventurous diet. Therefore, when someone sets something in front of me and promises that it’s not spicy at all, it almost always is too much for me. This book was the reverse. It needed a little more spice.
I liked the characters. Miranda is beautiful and clever and cunning, and I liked the fact that she didn’t go all swoony at Archer’s every look. I liked the fact that she negotiated her own place in that relationship. I loved the fact that she actually got to fight for Archer in the end, and did what needed to be done instead of crying about how she couldn’t take a life. I loved that she had to rescue him, in fact.
Archer was awesome, too. I thought his paranormal abilities complimented Miranda’s nicely. I loved that he was in love with her from the first, and showed remarkable patience and self-restraint. I liked that he brooded, but was overall pretty accepting of circumstances.
I also adored the setting. There wasn’t much in the way of elaborate world-building, but Callihan sketches out the details deftly as she goes, so I felt right at home. I liked that there weren’t vampires and werewolves and supernatural politicking. Instead there is magic and curses and a secret order of old men interested in that sort of thing. I liked the darkness of the setting. The series is called Darkest London for a reason.
That all said, I didn’t love this book. It didn’t ring many emotional bells. I can see that there are all these things that I look for, but there just wasn’t enough spice.
I do plan on reading the sequel, which is about Miranda’s sister, Daisy, and an awesome secondary character. I’m hoping the writing will grow on me, and I’ll like it better.
I’d still recommend this book, because I think there need to be more books with all the tropes I love. I also know other bloggers loved it a lot more than I did.
Final Grade: C
Up next: I honestly don’t know. This whole regimented schedule thing is not working for me so much as a blogger.