ORDER A COPY: Entwined (Darkest London)
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publishing Date: November 5, 2013
Ebook: Says 40 pages, seemed like more.
Rating: 4 stars
Eamon Evernight has always lived in his older brother’s shadow. While his brother is fair of hair and lithe in body, Eamon sparks fear with his fiery locks and massive frame-and rumors of a mysterious power. But when his brother has the good fortune to be betrothed to a beautiful stranger, it’s Eamon’s help-and quick wit and romantic heart–that he needs. Eamon agrees to write the noble lady…a generous offer that will forever leave him a changed man.
Lady Luella Jane Moran has no interest in an arranged marriage and tries valiantly to dissuade her betrothed from afar. Though her own letters plainly state her case, the words her husband-to-be writes her leave her aching for his touch. Will Lu give in to the desire the missives have kindled within her? Or will desire turn cold when she discovers their true author?
Aidan Evernight received a letter from his intended bride, a bride arranged between the families, begging him to rebel with her against the archaic arrangement and set them both free. But Aidan wanted a bride in name only so he could have someone to keep his home and allow him to lead his own life. Aiden begged his brother Eamon to write to her and convince her that she needed to go through with the marriage when she came of age.
Except when Eamon agreed to assist his brother, his first desire was to convince the young woman to continue to fight the arrangement. He didn’t like the idea of his brother trapping the girl in a loveless marriage for his own benefit. But from their first correspondence, their wits and intelligence meshed and began a four year love affair between Eamon and Lu, and as the time came for Lu to meet her intended husband, Eamon’s mistake hit him full force. He had woo’d the woman he loves for someone else to possess, and he would have to step back and watch her be joined forever to his brother.
Eamon had lost all hope, but when fate intervenes on his behalf, will he be able to confess his fraud to Lu and claim her as his own, and if he does, will she ever forgive him?
Eamon was a quiet, gentle man but he was also very large with shocking red hair. His appearance along with his father’s ranting of him being a demon’s spawn, made the Town’s people wary of him. So it is not surprising that his romance begins with letters allowing his intelligence and his humor to shine through before Lu ever meets him and allowing both to form strong bonds of love before ever meeting face to face.
Of course, we have the whole Cyrano-type storyline where his brother doesn’t find out about the four years of letter writing until just before Lu shows up at their door. Now I adored sweet Eamon and thoroughly enjoyed the story, although I did have a few issues. Eamon’s mother died in childbirth bearing him, the younger son, and his father held him responsible for his mother’s death and treated him like the proverbial ‘redheaded stepchild.’ So why was Eamon the smarter and more educated of the two brothers? Aidan couldn’t read and write no matter how hard the tutor’s tried to teach him, which is why Eamon had to write to Lu. Maybe he was dyslexic?? Aiden also had an English accent while Eamon had a Irish lilt. They grew up together, how did that happen? And although Eamon and Lu end up getting married (It’s a romance. I’m not giving anything away.), it bothered me that on their wedding night, Eamon is hesitant since he steps in for his brother and he believe Lu loves Aidan, and he tries to get the unpleasantness over for her as quickly as possible where he barely lifts her nightgown, in/out and he leaves the room as quickly as possible. It wasn’t even just because they were both virgins that it was awkward. I felt like she agreed to marry you, she agreed to not put off the consummation of the marriage, and you couldn’t start off with a little kiss? Having sex with her is okay, but a kiss is too personal? It was awkward for them and it was awkward for me, the reader. Later in the story when we get to the kissing part, they do just fine.
Other than the awkward consummation and a few contrived plot twists, I like the way Eamon and Lu meshed. This is a novella from a regency/paranormal themed series. If you have not read the series, you can still enjoy this story. It seems Eamon is a minor character to the Darkest London series. The last few sentences point out who he is, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact content from the Winterblaze story and my review copy disappeared long ago so I couldn’t flip through it. Obviously, it wasn’t necessary to know that to enjoy Lu and Eamon’s story, and for only $.99 (on Amazon), it was a sweet romance with enough of a plot twist to make it interesting novella.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Keep going that way and you’ll find the garden wall.”
Lu came to a sudden halt at the sound of the deep voice. It wasn’t Aidan’s; his was a bit lighter in tone. No, this voice was warmer and tinged with more of an Irish lilt than her fiance’s well-bred English diction.
A note of humor colored it as the man continued, “Besides, the stables are in the other direction.”
She turned and found Eamon Evernight sitting in the shadows with his back against a large rowan tree. The younger Evernight brother hadn’t spoken a word in the house. He’d simply eased away from conversation until he’d blended into the woodwork. A fine trick for one so large as he. But Lu had been aware of him, or his stare rather. She’d felt it linger across her neck when her back was turned and heat her checks when she’d faced his way.
Oddly, he never outright stared, but tracked her from under his lashes. Which made it all the more unnerving that she’d known he’d been watching her.
He watched her now as well, his gaze steady and waiting.
“How did you know I was headed for the stables?” She’d been out of her room and headed for them as soon as the weather had cleared.
The corners of his eyes crinkled just a touch. “I recall hearing you had an affinity for horses.” His lids lowered, a slow perusal that had her skin prickling. “Seems inevitable that you’d suss them out as soon as you could.”
The way he spoke to her, as if to tease; she did not know why, but it roused her. Why hadn’t Aidan taunted her in this manner? She’d expected it of him, even hoped for such an exchange.
“Oh?” she said lightly. “And what if I was merely going for a walk?”
“Well, your muttering ‘where the bloody hell are the stables’ might have provided me with further clues.”
She laughed. “I must say, Mr. Evernight, your powers of observation are keen. Though it wasn’t very nice of you to repeat a lady’s indiscretion to her.” Good Lord, she had been swearing like a stable hand, hadn’t she? Ladies did not do such things. She’d have to repeat that fact until she remembered. Damn it.
A deep, slow chuckle drifted over to her. Strangely, she thought that Eamon Evernight did not laugh often. Which was a shame because it was a very nice sound.
“I won’t think any less of you, I promise,” he said. “Especially when I have uttered a few of those words a few times myself today.”
Shaking her head slightly, Lu stepped closer, bringing herself under the shade of the tree, and Eamon came into better focus.
My, but he was large. His shoulders were twice the width of hers. His arms beefy with muscle, now on display behind the thin, improper lawn shirt he wore. Massive, scarred, and callused hands hung limply upon his bent knees. She looked away from them and into his face.
His coloring was unfortunate. One could not shy away from it. Vibrant, angry red hair swirled into a thick wave from his crown, giving the impression of a flame. On this towering brute of a man, the color was excessive. And not at all fashionable. Indeed most people in England looked upon red hair as a defect. Ridiculous notion, but one that did not abate. Regardless, her preference was for golden hair and light blue eyes.
“I merely wanted to brush down the horses, perhaps have a chat with them,” she said to him. “I am quite accustomed to caring for them, you know.”
The corners of his mouth curled in a hint of a smile. “It’s the grooms, you see. They do not yet know you. If you wander in, they won’t know what to do with themselves.”
The quiet way in which he spoke was firm but not reproachful. Even so, her shoulders slumped. No servant wanted an unfamiliar woman drifting into their territory. Especially the stables. How long had it taken her to win over the hands at her father’s stables? “Well, I suppose I shall make do with roaming the garden.”
She must have made a face, for he smiled then, and his face was transforming to something almost boyish, with little dimples appearing on each side of his wide mouth. Strong, white teeth flashed in the shadows.
“Ah, now, don’t go fretting. You simply need an able escort. I can take you to the stables, if you’d like—” He stopped, his high cheeks coloring in that strong, ginger way that he must abhor. “That is, Aidan can escort you, of course.” His gaze settled on his hands.
Yes, Aidan could take her. Only the thought made the horrid lump within her chest grow. She did not want to face the man who called himself Aidan yet treated her as if she were a stranger.
“I’ll go fetch him, shall I?” He moved to get up, and Lu put out her hand.
“Oh, no. Don’t bother. Truly, it’s all right.”
An uncomfortable silence descended.
“May I sit with you, Mr. Evernight?” Lu did not know what had prompted her to ask. And when he looked at her with his dark brows raised in surprise, she wished she could take back the request. But only a little.
There was something oddly comforting about Eamon Evernight. She fancied that whatever she said or did, he would not sit in judgment.
“Call me Eamon,” he said, shifting over so that she could sit with her back supported by the tree. “Mr. Evernight makes me think of my father.”
Lu arranged herself, and her skirts, at the base of the tree. There was not much room, Eamon being as large as he was, and their shoulders were close enough to feel his body heat. “So then you did not get along with your father either?”
“Either?” Eamon frowned.
“I merely meant that Aidan told me he did not have a close relationship with your father, and it sounded like you did not either.”
Eamon cleared his throat. “Right, of course. Well, ours was not the best of accords.” With a distracted air, he scratched the back of his head, and the curve of his biceps bulged against the tight stretch of his sleeve.
By Saint Joan, she shouldn’t be looking at the man’s muscles, or noting the way they moved. She bit her lip in annoyance and tried to focus on his face. But that did no good. For she realized, with a bit of a start, that he was quite handsome when one looked past that flaming red hair. Classically so.
His nose was strong and straight, his jaw squared and graceful.
She was staring now. She knew it, yet Lu could not help but keep looking. To find such masculine beauty here was like discovering a secret treasure.
With such bright red hair, one would expect him to have freckles and pale eyes, but his skin was mellow ivory, and beneath sweeping brows of auburn, his eyes were deep, saturated cobalt blue, such as found in Chinese porcelain.
Looking into them, she felt a strange sort of hitch in her chest, as if someone had stolen her breath for a moment.
Perhaps she made a sound or something showed in her expression, for his brows drew together and a small half-smile pulled at his lips. “What is it?” His voice was soft and searching, as if he worried he’d offended her.
“You’re…” she trailed off in a mad blush.
“I’m what?” he prompted gentle, yet looking a bit apprehensive.
Lovely. Rare. Unexpected.
ORDER A COPY: Winterblaze (Darkest London)
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publishing Date: February 26, 2013
Paperback: 400 pages
Rating: 5 star
Poppy Lane is keeping secrets. Her powerful gift has earned her membership in the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, but she must keep both her ability and her alliance with the Society from her husband, Winston. Yet when Winston is brutally attacked by a werewolf, Poppy’s secrets are revealed, leaving Winston’s trust in her as broken as his body. Now Poppy will do anything to win back his affections.
Winston Lane soon regains his physical strength but his face and heart still bear the scars of the vicious attack. Drawn into the darkest depths of London, Winston must fight an evil demon that wants to take away the last hope of reconciliation with his wife. As a former police inspector, Winston has intelligence and logic on his side. But it will take the strength of Poppy’s love for him to defeat the forces that threaten to tear them apart.
In the third installment of the Darkest London series, Poppy Lane, also known in the supernatural world as “Mother”, finds herself alone. Her husband Winston has left her after 14 years of marriage after his nearly deadly attack by a werewolf. As a Police Inspector, Winston faces liars every day. He can’t stand liars and he is devastated that his Poppy has been the biggest liar of all. She has hidden the supernatural world from Winston, right under his nose—hidden her true self from him, and it is more than he can bear.
When a deadly demon is freed from his hellish prison, sent there by Poppy herself, he has sworn to pay back Poppy by destroying “her heart.” So whether Winston wants her or not, Poppy will be there to protect Winston from the evil which his coming for him.
But unbeknown to all, Winston is hiding the worst secret of all. A lie so great it could prove their whole lives as a lie.
Now they will have to play the demon’s game in order to fight for their very lives.
It is undeniable that passion still flare between Winston and Poppy, but can they both look past the lies and betrayals and rebuild the lives they once had full of undying love and mutual respect.
When I first read Firelight (which I loved), I wasn’t at all interested in Poppy and Winston. After Moonglow (which I didn’t like as much), they suddenly had my full attention. I was a lot more interested in Poppy and Winston and wanted to see if they could repair their shattered marriage.
Since this story mostly involved the fact that Winston and Poppy were separated and had an emotional wedge between them, I liked how we kept jumping between the present and the past so we could see how Winston and Poppy met, how they overcame their differences in station so that they could get married, and how much they wanted to be with each other before things went so wrong.
I was disappointed, as I usually am, that our hero and heroine both wanted to get past this chasm in their relationship, that they both missed each other and that they both loved and desired the other, BUT when it came to putting themselves out there and possibly to be hurt again, neither one of these brave, strong people were willing to be the one to take that step. My little brain keeps going, “You’re facing evil that wants to hurt you. You might die shortly, but you can’t tell the person you love the most in the world that you love them and miss them in what could be the last hours before you might die? Really? What are you waiting for the regretting part as you lay dying?” Stupid characters.
I also liked the fact that our secondary characters weren’t content to stay in the background as secondary characters are supposed to do, part of that is the set up for the next story. I am excited to say that there will be more stories now that we have finished with the tales of the Ellis sisters.
I am looking forward to seeing where we go next.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
“You do not think it romantic that her love for Hamlet was so great that she fell into unending despair when he left?” he asked.
Sharp red brows snapped together, and he wanted to kiss the little furrow between them. His hand curled into a fist as she, oblivious to his lust, proceeded to lecture him. “Romantic? Bah. Such a man’s idea of how a woman ought to love. By all means, let us poor, emotionally weak females fall into utter helplessness for the want of a man. Especially a man who couldn’t be bothered to treat her with any sort of—“
He kissed her. Because he couldn’t stop himself and didn’t have to. Her lips were soft, her tongue tart and slick and he slid an arm about her slim waist and suckled her lower lip before breaking away. “You’ll soon have me in despair,” he whispered, smiling against her mouth, “if you don’t believe in all-consuming love.”
Her arm snaked around his neck, her cool fingers slipping into his hair to toy with it. Had he the ability to purr, he would.
“That isn’t love,” she said.
He nuzzled closer, brushing his mouth against hers. “Kiss me again.”
“We are in public.” But she sipped at his upper lip as though she liked the taste of it.
Winston chuckled and reluctantly stepped back a pace. His gaze landed again on the storefront window beside them, and he looked back at a wonderfully flushed and mussed Poppy. “Do you realize you take us past this empty shop with every walk we take?”
Her cheeks darkened more. “Do I?” She moved to go, but he blocked her way with his shoulder.
“Yes.” He nudged her chin with his knuckle. “And you won’t get me to believe it’s by chance, either. Confess, Boadicea. Why this shop?”
Standing straight and smoothing her hair back into place, she attempted to look past him, her sweet lips pressed into an annoyed line. But then a noise of defeat sounded in her throat, and she glanced at the shop before meeting his eyes. “I want to let it.”
When his brows rose in surprise, she pushed on. “It is a book shop. Or was.” Her nose wrinkled as she made herself speak. “I would like to see it reopened. I—I have always wanted…It is a silly dream, I know.”
Her words cut into him. He hadn’t expected her to have dreams. Why? Why hadn’t he thought of her wants? It shamed him that he’d been so oblivious. Putting a staying hand around her waist when she squirmed to get away, he looked over her shoulder and studied the shop. “Have you any experience in running a book shop?”
Poppy’s expression closed. Tension tightened the muscles along her back. But she did not drop her gaze from his. “No.”
He looked into her dark eyes, his hand firm upon her. “Then you shall learn.”
She flinched. “What?”
He smiled then, tucking a stray lock of fire-bright hair behind her ear. “We have need of funds and a place to live. There is a flat attached to the shop, I see. You want this shop. So you will have it.”
Her breath left in a gust. “Win..How can you…” She drew herself up. “What if I fail?”
Slowly he shook his head. “My love, I have no doubt that if running a bookstore is what you want to do, then you will do it. And do it well. You are too strong-willed to fail at anything.”
She gaped at him, and he cupped her cheek. “I believe in you, Pop. I always will.”
ORDER A COPY: Moonglow (Darkest London)
Publishing Date: July 31, 2012
Paperback: 327 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy’s door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .
Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul.
This second book in the Darkest London series focuses on Miranda’s sister Daisy, who has recently been widowed after years of a loveless marriage to an abusive husband. Finally free to live her own life, she plans to take a lover and live outside of the Ton’s strangling rules. But those plans are thwarted when she attacked in an alley by what looks like a werewolf.
When Ian Northrup, the Marquis of Northrup, comes upon the commotion outside the London alley, he can smell the werewolf, worse he can smell the disease which is leading the lycan to give in to his baser werewolf form. Since Ian is a lycan, he knows the danger this werewolf presents not only to the helpless citizens of London, but to the rest of the lycans living quietly among the unsuspecting human population. He will do anything to catch this mad wolf. He will also do anything to protect the beautiful and spirited Daisy, who is now the focus of the werewolf, whether she likes it or not.
But the biggest problem could just be the fact that the immortal Ian is in more danger…of falling for the lovely Daisy. Ian gave his heart to a human woman decades earlier and had to watch that love wither and die as his wife aged and grew to resent Ian’s eternal youth. Can he risk his heart and soul to another mortal woman no matter how perfect she is for him?
This was an intriguing, well written continuation of the Darkest London series which leaves us wanting more. We were introduced to various new and interesting characters and learned some deep dark secrets hidden by both Ian and by Daisy’s family. Ian is sexy and charismatic and Daisy is spirited and brave like a good hero and heroine out to be.
What I think says most about the author is that I had no real interest is sister Poppy and his husband, Winston, after I read Firelight (Poppy=meh), but after Moonglow, I have to know where they will be going in the next story, Winterblaze.
Kristen Callihan is proving herself to be a very talented author and I am looking forward to more from her in the future.
See our past interview with Kristen Callihan.
Lucien became utterly still, and his gleaming eyes immediately dimmed. A caress of ice-cold air touched Daisy’s cheek and then surrounded her breasts. Icy prickles rippled over her sensitive flesh, beading her nipples. She sucked in a gasp as a cold draft blew between her legs. “Oh!”
A viscous snarl burst from Northrup, and he was out of his seat, his hands fisting Lucien’s collar. The man’s head flopped to the side as if he were stunned. Northrup gave him a violent shake. Fangs sprang long in Northrup’s mouth, his eyes going round and filling with blue. “I’ll tear yer fuckin’ head from yer neck, if ye don’t leave off!”
The air around her whooshed past her. Lucien’s prone body jerked and he blinked, his eyes returning to normal. Still caught in Northrup’s grip, he offered an innocent little smile to the snarling lycan bearing down on him.
“Temper, Ian. It was only a bit of fun.”
Northrup was past hearing. His jaw cracked as it lengthened, the fangs in his upper and lower jaw growing longer. “Not with her.” A snarl tore out as his claws sank into Lucien’s neck.
The man gurgled as Daisy leaped up. “Northrup! Stop.” He bared his teeth at Lucien, and the muscles along his forearms bulged. Crimson blood ran in rivulets down Lucien’s neck and into his snow-white cravat.
“Ian.” With a shaking hand, she touched his arm. He jerked as though shocked, his eyes, gleaming ice blue, turned to her, unseeing and wild. “Let him go, Ian. You don’t want to kill him. Not truly.”
Northrup cocked his head, his nostrils pinching as though he were inclined to disagree. His tense frame vibrated as a series of low growls rumbled in his throat. Daisy blanched but did not let him go. She had to trust in his promise not to hurt her. “Ian. Stand down.”
On a shudder, his body began to ease back to normal and the confusion and rage in his eyes cleared, to be replaced by a possessive heat that made her blush. A grunt of acknowledgment left him before he turned away from her.
Northrup hauled his prey close, his nose butting up against Lucien’s. “Play with your own lass, aye?”
With a final snarl, he shoved Lucien back into his seat. The chair slid a foot before Lucien’s boot heels stopped it. “A thousand pardons,” Lucien said, panting. “I forgot myself.”
Daisy, on the other hand, having just realized that the cold touch was Lucien, suddenly felt far from appeased. “That was you?” she said through her teeth.
The man held up his hands in apology, and she turned to Northrup. “I was wrong. Tear his hands off.”
Northrup’s eyes glinted with wicked humor as he winked at her, his smile feral and still showing a bit of fang. He turned back to Lucien and let his claws free. Lucien backed into his chair, his handsome mouth opening in alarm. “Here now!”
Daisy gave him an evil smile. Now that Northrup had calmed, he wouldn’t follow through, but he put on a very convincing show. “I wouldn’t be too alarmed, Mr. Stone,” she said. “After all, I appears you do not need your hands to get into mischief.”