This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Forever
Released on November 5, 2013
This novella is part of one of my favorite series so I snatched it up eagerly. It was a bit of something different for the series and I really liked it. It had its darker elements, but it was also romantic through and through. It wasn’t really attached to the rest of the series as far as continuing story line. It was a side story that can be read as a standalone.
It opens with two brothers pondering a letter that the oldest received from the sixteen year old feisty girl who makes it clear she’s not marrying him and they should refuse to follow the dictates of their fathers who are making them because of a debt of honor between the two men. The letter is addressed to Aidan, the older of the two brothers. Aidan and Eamon are as different as night and day. Aidan is a handsome specimen of a male that turns all the female heads though he has no intentions or interests in that direction. Eamon is a huge guy with flaming red hair which causes the most superstitious to avoid him and call him the devil’s child. No woman will even look at him let alone befriend him. He is also hated by his own father and treated poorly. Eamon has a secret gift that allows him to use his hands to work with fire and metal making useful and beautiful things out in his forge.
Aidan comes to Eamon needing his help to write a letter to Lady Luella in response to her letter. At first, he thinks to discourage her, but then he tells Eamon that he’s honor-bound to fulfill the marriage so then asks him to write back an encouraging letter instead. Aidan is unable to read and write. Eamon starts out reluctantly, but then an exchange of letters takes place over the months and years toward the time of the engagement ending when Aidan reaches his majority. Eamon and Lu both tease each other, start up a friendship and then start pouring out the real people they are on the inside and hide from the world. They fall in love in point of fact, but they both have secrets and what will happen when Luella comes to marry the real Aidan who is only planning for a marriage of convenience.
The plot was engaging and things seemed so straight forward at first just being about a correspondence romance that had the barrier of Eamon not being the real Aidan, but then the twists and turns started to happen. The story switches back and forth between Eamon and Lu’s perspectives so I got to know them both well. The story cuts corners a bit just focusing on the main point, but that’s understandable since it doesn’t have much page length to stretch out with. Nothing of import was left out really; it was just a sense that time couldn’t be taken to tease out the side stuff like the direct confrontations between both Eamon and Lu with their fathers or that Aidan who was important was still a bit of an enigma.
It was so adorable the way Eamon longed so much for Lu and that he was such an innocent and so lonely. I enjoyed the interactions between the brothers too. Even though their father was off scene, I still hated him for his behavior toward Eamon, but at least Eamon had Aidan. Aidan made it clear that he had no desire to marry so Eamon’s deception didn’t bother me- in fact I was rooting for him with this chance at happiness. Luella was a likeable girl who I admired for how she dealt with the hardships in her life that really only come out at the end of the story. It was her acceptance of Eamon that won me over. Even though she was confused when she met the two brothers, it was the brawny, shy and unsure of himself Eamon that she fell for.
I enjoyed this latest installment in the Darkest London world and look forward to what is to come. I’m not completely certain how this particular story ties in with the rest (feel free to share if you know the answer), but I got the impression that maybe this is a prequel of sorts based on that last scene in the end. Those who haven’t had a chance to read this series that blends historical romance with the paranormal and mystery should definitely give it a try.
Update: I’ve been told by another reader that the tie-in to the series is that Eamon and Lu are the grandparents of Holly Evernight from Winterblaze and this is a prequel though based on where the tie-in is, should be read after book three.
My thanks to Net Galley and Penguin Group for the opportunity to read and review this book.