Series: Darkest London, Book 2
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever publisher Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
A Dark, Deadly Good Read
With the obligatory year of mourning for a husband she despised now behind her, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore finally feels free to slip the last lingering shackles of her abusive marriage. She yearns to live a little, feel a little, and experience...more than a little. That's how she finds herself in the alley beside the home of a friend, on the arm of an amorous young gentleman intent on showing her the sort of pleasure she's spent long, painful years without.
Instead, Daisy finds only horror.
Her friend, the host of the party she was attending, lies on the ground like a shattered doll, broken and bloody, and the...thing responsible is still bent over her. Eating. The scream that rips from her throat can do nothing to help her dead friend, but it does draw the attention of the monster that killed her.
Disenfranchised with his long, lonely life, lycan Ian Randulf is running the streets of London when he first catches the scent of blood, then smells the werewolf responsible for it. Before he can process either, he's goaded into action by the screams piercing the air and the sound of flesh being torn. By the time he reaches the source it's too late. A man and woman lay savaged, but a young woman hidden beneath one of the bodies is still alive.
And her scent tantalizes him in ways he hadn't felt in far too long.
Getting her away from that nightmare and into his home is his only thought, but when he finds out who she is and what she saw, Ian fears that a rogue werewolf may be the least of his problems. Saving the delightful Daisy Ellis may very well end up being the very death of him. Then again, there were worse ways to go.
I was pretty blown away by Firelight, Callihan's first book in the Darkest London series. It was so utterly original, with a deftly-woven and unique story that captivated me. It appealed to me to such a degree that I prepared myself for the likelihood that the second book in the series wouldn't have quite the same impact, and in truth it didn't, but it did provide a hell of a good read and a couple of characters I really enjoyed.
I loved Ian. In fact, I adored him. He was so deliciously burdened by his past and wounded by his present, yet he had a solid, good, and decent heart. He was even a bit of a helpless git at times, poor thing, especially when he was being disconcerted by Daisy's unpredictable nature. He was a great romantic hero.
Daisy wasn't quite so universally appealing to me. I liked her, and I did love her pert attitude when dealing with Ian, but she was fairly traditional for the genre. Her character lacked a bit of the devastating charm that Ian managed so effortlessly. I did like them together, though, and the arc of their romance was very nicely done.
I wasn't thrilled with the plot line of the werewolf, but that may have been more an issue of my expectations. I was so thoroughly impressed with the mythos and storyline of the first book that a second installment featuring werewolves and lycan just seemed a bit pedestrian in comparison. It wasn't bad, and without a doubt, Callihan weaves a complex and satisfying external conflict, but it lacked a bit of that wow factor.
The end of the book, however, was a real problem for me. The climax and subsequent resolution had elements that just seemed a bit too convenient, and the ending depressed me. I truly wish there had been another road chosen for Daisy's character. I won't give away spoilers, but it just didn't sit well with me. Combined with the epilogue, which was also a pretty big downer, the book ended on a lower note than it began.
Still, I love the Gothic tone of this world and Callihan crafts a truly authentic-feeling historical with three dimensional characters and a dark, edgy narrative. Despite the few issues I had, I still enjoyed the bulk of the read and Ian handily supplanted Archer as my favorite character of the series. I'm looking forward to the next installment.