Burning Bright by Melissa McShane #SweetDelight

Burning Bright by Melissa McShane #SweetDelightBurning Bright by Melissa McShane

Genres: Fantasy Romance, Historical Romance
Published by Curiosity Quills on August 15, 2016
Pages: 318
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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This was one of those books that I knew from the beginning that it was just my thing.  Intrepid heroine set for adventure, magic, war on the high seas, dashing Navy Captain, pirates, shipboard adventure, danger, and maybe love when she least expects it?  This was history and fantasy blended together at its best.

A young woman courageously steps out of the restraints of her current life and boldly embraces the adventure of a lifetime so she can live free.  I read it in two sittings and then groaned to see it end.  Fortunately, it’s the beginning of a series and I can come back to the world of the magical Extraordinaires again.

Elinor is a late bloomer where her magic is concerned so she goes from being a disappointment to her parents to one of the most sought after young ladies of London’s High Society.  But mixed with the hushed interest in her is a twinge of fear because she is a rare fire magic Extraordinaire and everyone knows those who hold that sort of magic usually end up losing their minds and destroying themselves and everything around them.

But some are willing to take the risk to possess of wife who has extraordinaire magic.  She’s a prize to be one and her father treats her as such brokering an arranged marriage with a man she does not want.  He threatens to lock her up and make her miserable if she doesn’t comply.

Elinor makes her own way out by approaching the Royal Navy who are fighting a war against Napoleon and against pirates.  They can use her sort of talent and cautiously decide to do the unprecedented action of putting a woman on a war ship.  The captain she is assigned to and his crew are dubious.  And she has much to prove while fighting her own fears at stepping so far away from everything she knows and knowing this will irrevocably destroy her reputation in society.

Elinor settles into her new life and discovers that she relishes the challenge to prove her use and finds satisfaction when her magic wins the first battle and the respect of the crew and the captain.  But their enemies have magic workers, too, and there are others from within who are determined to thwart her and the captain she now serves under.  She must not just be good at wielding magic, but also be courageous and brilliant.

I love history blended with fantasy particularly when it is feathered into a powerful plot and characters.  This alternate history world of the Napoleonic Era Britain is filled with magic wielders.  Having magic gives one status and there are a variety of magic classifications some more desired than others when it comes to status amongst the high society of Britain.  You guessed it, Elinor’s Scorcher (fire) magic is considered unseemingly for a woman to wield and it also makes people nervous because Scorchers are generally unstable or mad.

The main character, Elinor, is the sole narrator.  She is a fantastic heroine beginning as a sheltered and naive lady to becoming a formidable woman ready to learn from her mistakes and take her place as a valuable contributor to crew and country.  She must battle the conflicts that come from stepping out of her place in life, enemies personal and of Britain, and she must fight an internal battle.

The author did a fantastic job of painting a setting around Elinor that was a balance of historical authenticity and her own parallel world.  This story paces out slow and steady for the most part of life in London society and then shipboard life, but there are many exciting breathless moments when Elinor, Captain Ramsay, and the crew are fighting for their lives.

Elinor learns to build relationships on her own particularly with Captain Ramsay.  He, more than others understands what it is to be a late-blooming Extraordinaire and the need to prove himself.  He is her friend, but he is also her captain.  But slowly something more grows between them.  It was sweet and tender and was organic to the story.

In summary, this was amazingness and I definitely want more of the Extraordinaire world.  Those who enjoy authentic feeling historicals, compelling characters, exciting adventure and magic surrounding it all should give this book a go.

My thanks to Curiosity Quills for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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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.
  • Gorgeous cover! And fantasy too, that’s intriguing. I’d not heard of this book before. I’m assuming the Captain is the love interest? Pity there isn’t more “heat” to the book. 😉

    Wonderful review, Sophia!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • I thought the cover was catching, too, Alyssa. Oh yes, nice fantasy blend.

      Yep, yep, he’s the love interest. It’s so full of action and setting up the world and the situation, but the mild romance really works for this one.

  • That is a stunning cover! I wanted it before reading your review but now….even more. It sounds amazing. I’d not heard of the author before so thanks for the heads up!

    • Yes, loved that daffy yellow dress and girl before the gray action of the background. It really matches the story.

      It was a fantastic story. Book two is just coming out this month so this is right at the beginning of things. Hope you get the chance, fab storywriting.

  • I love that feeling when I know right from the start I am going to enjoy a book. The blend of fantasy and historical elements sounds fun. And I like the sound of how this is an alternate history with magic wielders and the setting aboard a ship. I might have to look this one up as it sounds like a good one. And it seems like the main character will change a lot over the course of the series. Great review Sophia, it really shows how much you enjoyed this book!

    • Yes, it was quite the feeling to love it from the beginning. I don’t get that too often.

      I enjoyed the alternate world and magical background of the story, too, and add that with age of sail adventure and I was hooked.

      I think each book will feature a different lead Extraordinaire heroine, but hopefully the stories will connect to I can stay current with this heroine’s ongoing adventures.

      Thanks, Lola! I was indeed very excited to share about this one.

  • oh I’ve been eyeing this myself, I am kicking myself for not trying to pick it up. Maybe I will buy it when it comes out (have to look at the release date). I love pirates, give me that and magic? well that sounds like it could have been a good reader or went wrong. Good to hear it was good.

    • It’s out so feel free to check it out. Oh yes, magic and pirates on the high seas made it a hit for me. 🙂

  • This sounds great! I love a good fantasy….plus this has pirates! This is the first that I have heard of this book but I may need to pick it up. Great review!

    • Oh yeah, the really dastardly sort of pirates that make it quite the adventure. It’s fantastic. Hope you get the chance, Carole!

  • What a striking cover this is! AND a original plot/Blurb. I LOVE The idea of a woman on a ship, using her magic!

    • It was wonderfully original and I can’t wait to read the next one. Thanks for stopping by, Verushka!

  • The amazing-ness of this book is so much, I can’t stand it. THAT COVER. THE PLOT. THE CHARACTERS. DUDE. What else could you ask for? I need to get this! Plus, it reminds me of The Pirates of The Caribbean which is like,my favorite movie of ALL TIME.

    • Most definitely it is amazingness all around, Keionda. Hope you get the chance. Ha! Love Pirates of the Caribbean. These pirates keep the heroine and her Royal Navy pals hopping for sure. 🙂

  • That cover is gorgeous and your review has me thinking I would enjoy this!

    • I agree. That cover artist did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to see the cover on book two.

      I definitely recommend giving this one a go, Kimberly. 🙂