ARC Review: Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan

ARC Review: Winterblaze by Kristen CallihanWinterblaze by Kristen Callihan

Series: #3 Darkest London
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance
Published by Grand Central Publishing on February 26, 2013
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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five-stars  

Each book that I finish in this series has me saying ‘Wow!  This is the best one yet.’  I know, I know, make up my mind.  Its not that simple though because from the first book telling Miranda’s story to Daisy’s story and now to Poppy’s story they are all so different as each sister and their heroes are different.  I have to say that this one peaked my interest the most in anticipation because of what had gone on before it in regard to the main characters being left in the last book on a bit of a cliff hanger.

At this point, I’m going to suggest that if you have not read the first two- which must be read in order by the way- not to read my review because there will be mild series spoilers if you do.  Not a big deal to you or you’re all caught up?  Then read on with impunity as I continue to explain what got me so excited about this book.

Seeing Poppy in the other two books told me that she would be the sister with the most steel in her and the most hidden depth to uncover and explore plus Winston, who is her now estranged husband, is the first hero to be ‘just’ human trying to fight and protect in this secret world of powerful supernaturals.  They had something special together that Poppy broke irreparably it seemed.

So the story starts out several weeks after the end of the second book.  Poppy is fragile and a shell of her former self, but hides well from most though not her nearest and dearest sisters even- though they are still hurt and angered over her newly revealed secrets. She tries to press on, but knows that each day she is getting worse and just wants her husband back.  Suddenly a threat from her past that is not going after her, but Winston, sends her scrambling to get to him disregarding all that is between them.

Winston has survived the vicious mad werewolf attack recuperating through strengthening and training with his brothers in law after leaving in a cloud of acute hurt and anger over his life with Poppy being a lie.  His anger got him fired from his beloved career as an investigator so to Paris he goes.  Unfortunately for Winston, running even to Paris to escape Poppy doesn’t work because it is all in his mind and physical distance isn’t the answer.  He has lasted as long as he could, but now his mind has settled enough that he feels he is ready to go back and get the explanation from Poppy that he didn’t seek in the first place and hear her apology.

Isn’t Winston in for a wake-up surprise when just as his ship sails from Calais, his magically gifted wife makes a grand entrance and announces that instead of coming to apologize she is there to protect him from a demon.  The sparks fly between them and their anger and frustration with each other leave them at an impasse even as the physical need for each other is still there.  But the demon doesn’t give them time to regroup and get it all out between them.  Winston soon learns that he has done something far more unforgivable than the lie that Poppy told.  It was a case of can things possibly get worse? Yes, they can and do.

In the end, Winston only has one chance to make things right and it is to solve a case for a demon.  It will take Poppy by his side and the help of a few others to race the clock on the contract he has signed with the demon.  But in the end, solving the case isn’t enough and now Winston and Poppy are left with two untenable choices.

Let’s just say I couldn’t have put this down once the excitement started for anything short of a family emergency and by that I mean the sight of lots of blood (okay so perhaps that’s a huge exaggeration because I did put it down a few times).  The book had one of those plots where I just had to keep going particularly when all the barriers were revealed and in play.  It was one of those ‘no matter what they do they can’t win so how will they get out of this situation’ plots.  And like the other stories, this one had some more secrets about the Ellis’ family to reveal that I didn’t even see coming.  I enjoyed how it also brought back the sisters and their husbands from the other books to take small parts in this one along with the ongoing enigmatic Jack Talent and Miss Chase to sidekick for Winston and Poppy.

I wondered how Poppy’s story would be handled back when I was still getting through the other two stories since she was the oldest of the three and already had an established romance, but then that switch at the end of Daisy’s story took place and suddenly all bets were off for Poppy and Winston leaving a chance for a fresh story.  Because of the nature of their separation, their reunion had to be handled very carefully.  It wouldn’t have worked if it was just a matter of separating long enough for Winston to cool down and come back because Poppy’s betrayal cut so deep.  Then again, it would have just gotten irritating if the rift was kept open and strung out indefinitely.  It took some delicate work to bring off the romance properly.  I liked that it wasn’t as simple as giving in to physical attraction and that trust and love had to be earned and restored.  It was a bit agonizing as to the baby steps forward these two took, but worth it I think.  I loved that when the truth started coming out that both are now culpable for destroying their lives together so that they are equals when it comes to needing and giving forgiveness and understanding.  It didn’t come across as angsty either because of all the excitement of the action part of the plot to keep it driving forward.

The story left a few threads dangling that set up for another good installment that will step away from the Ellis sisters and pick up with Jack and Mary’s story.  That looks to be pretty exciting because the sparks sure do fly between these two.

I heartily recommend this series for those who love historical paranormal romance and I’m going to go so far as to say that Steampunk aficionados might like this series too.

I thank Net Galley for provide the reading copy for review purposes.

 

About Kristen Callihan

Kristen Callihan is a child of the 80’s, which means she’s worn neon skirts, black-lace gloves, and combat boots (although never all at once) and can quote John Hughes movies with the best of them. A life long daydreamer, she finally realized that the characters in her head needed a proper home and thus hit the keyboard. She believes that falling in love is one of the headiest experiences a person can have, so naturally she writes romance. Her love of superheroes, action movies, and history led her to write historical paranormals. She lives in the Washington D.C. area and, when not writing, looks after two children, one husband, and a dog — the fish can fend for themselves.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.