There are so many things I like about the Darkest London series. I love the dark atmosphere and gothic feel of these books. The characters are engaging and interesting. The sexual tension and payoffs satisfy. Each story maintains the tone and core characters, but they still manage to stand apart from each other... each with very different kind of romance.
This book features Poppy, the third and eldest of the Ellis sisters. Unlike the first two book, our couple is already an established one here. Poppy and her husband Winston have been married for 14 years, and they are very much in love. But at the end of Moonglow, Winston was attacked by a paranormal being, which opened his eyes to a world he never knew existed. A world his wife is very much a part of. As long as he has known her, she has hidden not only her ice elemental abilities, but the fact that she runs an organization which polices the rogues of the supernatural community. It's too much for him to handle, and walks out on her.
As the story begins, it's been three months since the two of them have been apart. Each is miserable without the other, but neither knows if they can forgive the other for the hurt caused. A demon puts an end to their separation when he threatens Winston to get to Poppy. Without spoiling the details, Poppy and Win must work together to meet the demon's demands or their lose something more precious than either is willing to sacrifice.
It's not often I can get really invested in an established couple. I'm really more a fan of that first blush of attraction and feeling you get with a new relationship. However, I thought Kristen Callihan really made this love story sing. First of all, I loved the flashbacks. We do get to see the beginning of this relationship. But even better is the way that the roadblocks between Winston and Poppy in the present create a believable threat to their future. The sexual tension is still phenomenal (something that is usually the first thing to go with a married couple story) and I found myself rooting hard for these two to make it to the bedroom.
I liked both characters a lot. Winston is not the paragon we first thought him to be and I like seeing his flaws. By the same token, we find that Poppy's deceit isn't as cut and dry and we thought either. She tried to do the right thing, and through the course of the story we learn how her choices were taken away. Everyone has made mistakes, but all for honor or love.
I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to address the secondary characters. Archer, Miranda, Ian, and Daisy are back. (And we learn more about the sisters and what makes them so special.) But the real scene stealers are Mary, the Ghost in the Machine, and Jack Talent, Ian's shapeshifting valet. Clearly, they are the focus of the next book, Shadowdance, and their setup is amazing. Their scenes here have me foaming at the mouth to read their story.
I'd say this book is about on par with Moonglow for me. I liked it a lot, though a shade less than I loved Firelight. Maybe Firelight will just always be my favorite. But this is very, very good and I would definitely recommend it to fans of the series. And for those of you who haven't tried these book yet... what are you waiting for??
Rating: B+*ARC Provided by Forever via NetGalley