Why I read it:
I bought this one a while back after hearing the buzz. More recently Mandi at SmexyBooks
loved it and I moved it up my TBR.
What it’s about:
(from Goodreads) 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.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Generally speaking I’m a fan of masked hero/Beauty and the Beast stories. Unfortunately, this one didn’t work for me as well as I’d hoped. Perhaps it was at least partly that I’d just finished The Iron Duke (which I felt was much better written) or maybe it was a hangover from listening to some wonderful Susanna Kearsley novels on audio (her writing is just beautiful).
I found the beginning of the book confusing. I think it was supposed to tempt and tease me but it was a little too mysterious for my liking.
But the major thing which worked against my enjoyment of the book was that Archer and Miranda did not spend enough time together. The big mystery in the story is what lies behind Archer’s mask. Almost all of their interaction circled around to this issue and, because it was not to be revealed until near the end of the book, the characters had fairly brief encounters that came across as episodic and somewhat repetitive. Miranda and Archer don’t consummate their marriage until deep into the book as well. That is the other source of tension in the story. For me, that build of tension went past pleasant/exciting and on into frustrating. If either of those issues had been resolved a little earlier, I might have felt happier with the book but as it was, the big reveal and the consummation occurred at basically the same time and very late in the story. I found myself skimming sections of the book and tuning back in when Miranda and Archer were on the page together. They were the best parts of the book and of the most interest to me. (So, I don’t know if Miranda’s fiery talent was ever explained – if it was I missed it.)
Because Miranda and Archer didn’t spent a lot of page time together, I’m not sure I bought that they were in love. I wanted to but I don’t think I made it across the line. I felt I was being told rather than shown. The book did pick up toward the end. I felt the writing improved and, as Archer and Miranda got closer, I became more interested.
I didn’t think the book was bad. It’s just that when Miranda and Archer weren’t on the page, I lost interest. And when they were, for a lot of the book, it was frustrating for me because nothing much seemed to be happening in terms of their relationship arc.
What else? Archer’s friend (for want of a better term) Ian McKinnon (who, I gather is the hero of the next book, Moonglow) is (apparently) immortal. How he manages to go about in society with no-one wondering that he doesn’t age wasn’t really explained though.
I seem to be an outlier regarding this book though. It might well be a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. Mandi loved it as did a lot of my other Twitter friends. It is averaging 3.99 on Goodreads. Someone else I follow on Twitter mentioned that she “didn’t care for it” and I think that probably sums up my reaction. I wanted to like it and I thought the premise was great, but… My enjoyment and satisfaction did pick up toward the end of the book but I’m unsure whether I will try the next one in the series.