Lord Benjamin Archer first meets Miranda while on his way to kill her father. He happens upon her practicing her sword fighting late at night, then follows her back to her home when she is confronted by a pair of hoodlum boys looking to get a little action. Archer can't help but step in and save her, and he is drawn to her fiery spirit and beauty. He vows that he will have her, and leaves that night with a plan.
Three years down the road and Archer's plans have finally fell in place. Miranda's father used to lead a life of luxury, but has now fallen on hard times and Miranda has been forced to turn to thievery to put food on the table. She feels that her father's misfortunes are her fault and has been paying penance ever since. When she returns home from her latest jewelry theft, her father tells her that he has made a contract with a rich Lord for Miranda's hand in marriage. Miranda is at first outraged, but then resigns herself to the fact that she has been bought and sold like cattle.
Upon her wedding day, she receives an unusual request from her groom to meet for a few minutes in private before they make it official. When she first glimpses her husband-to-be, she sees a man with a body built like a god, but a face that's fully covered by a mask. He felt she should know what she's getting into before she becomes his wife, and not one to go back on her word, she still goes through with the wedding even though she has no idea what her husband looks like. Miranda hides her own secrets, and she wonders if Archer is the one man capable of handling them. Archer and Miranda begin their slow journey to love and when Archer gives into his curse in order to save her life, Miranda realizes that she'd rather be dead than live without him.
Firelight is a unique take on the old classic of Beauty and the Beast. I loved the fantasy and magic elements that Kristen Callihan wrote into the story to make it that much more interesting. Miranda and Archer aren't your typical wealthy aristocrat and penniless beauty. They each have secrets and are hiding things from the other. The pair dance around each other, slowly revealing little bits and pieces, all while longing for the other to give in and share all. Even though the story centers on them, I didn't think the pair had enough page time together. They always were off doing their own thing, trying to solve the mystery of the murders by themselves instead of working together. It didn't make the love story as great, I thought. The time they did spend together was only mentioned in passing, but I didn't see them together. And I was a bit frustrated with how slow the secrets were revealed, and Archer and Miranda's lack of communication with each other. But that's really just personal preference, as I always want to know everything right away.
I felt that Archer and Miranda were great characters, and together made a couple that I cared about and wanted them to succeed. Archer was very sexy and broken, and I admit that I teared up a bit when he finally took off the masks and showed her what he looked like. It was very sweet and emotional, and the joy he felt when Miranda didn't turn away from him practically jumped off the pages. As per my usual, I fell in love with Archer a bit more than Miranda. I just can't resist those lonely, broken heroes y'all.
My Summary: Firelight was such an enjoyable read. If I'm not mistaken, I believe that this is the author's debut novel, and I'm definitely impressed with her ability to weave a tale. The book was exciting, passionate, and the characters were well written and became real people to me while reading the story. Even with the small issues I mentioned previously, I loved the story and can't wait for the next book in the series!
My Rating: A