Thursday, March 01, 2012
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 picked up Firelight on a whim-- one of those books that I read between my have-to-read pile as a palate-cleanser of sorts: something light and frothy that doesn't take too much brain power to process. And in that respect "Firelight" was a good pick because it's a fast, easy read. Where it doesn't hold up has to do with the genre it's trying to fit itself into.
Despite the set-up of the story, including Miranda's magic and Benjamin's curse, the paranormal aspects take a huge backseat to the romance that is the heart of the book. Miranda is a staple of the romance genre: beautiful, headstrong and intelligent. The "fiery" redhead (in this case literally so) who captivates a mysterious and dangerous noble. She also has a typical background in that it's the hard-knock life of a daughter of a once wealthy man who forces his daughter into a life of thievery to keep food on their table. The twist here is that the family misfortune has a lot to do with Miranda's ability, which allows her father to use guilt as a lever to control her and push her into a marriage against her will.
Benjamin Archer plays the role of the beast to Miranda's beauty and the mystery behind his need for a mask is one the author skillfully draws out through nearly the whole book. Benjamin is well balanced against Miranda as he is just as stubborn as her and the characters have an excellent chemistry.
"Firelight" is, essentially, a romance novel-- and it's a good romance. The mystery of Benjamin's deformity (or injury-- we're left to speculate) is an excellent device that allows the characters to bond through common personality traits rather than physical attraction. It really is a very "Beauty and the Beast" story. But the paranormal aspects are not as well developed. Miranda's ability is not given enough history to make it as fully realized as it should be: how she discovered her power, her family's reaction to it and/or details about her struggle to control it would have added a lot that aspect of the story, but that territory is never really explored. Benjamin's history is also grounded in the occult, but that whole story is mostly revealed at the end of the book, in a very info-dump fashion, and the rushed feel of it makes it seem more like an addendum rather than a well thought out part of the story.
What you're left with is a romance that has a few paranormal elements-- but not something I think of as a true blending of the two genres. If you're primarily a fan of romance "Firelight" is a nice diversion. If you're more interested in paranormal fiction, you would probably find the story lacking.
3 out of 5 stars.