Firelight by Kristen Callihan, narrated by Moira Quirk
Firelight is the first in Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series. Here's what I love about this series, each book has its own unique flare (pun was not intended, I swear!). The first, Firelight, is Gothic in style, the second, Moonglow, tends towards more traditional Paranormal Romance, whereas the third, Winterblaze, dips into Steampunk. (I have not read the prequel, Ember.)
Synopsis: From the synopsis of any book you read, you can teach yourself how to write a query letter. This section will both tell you about the book, and what you should learn from the back cover blurb.
London, 1881Great blurb for a ParaRom. But it's this line, "forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman" that has me reading on. Because I know we are going to find out about the nefarious Lord Archer, which is exactly what you want the reader to do. For your query, tend on the side of more information (Miranda's gift for example).
Once the flames are ignited . . .
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.
Opening Pages: No agent, editor, or even reader will read past the first sentences or pages if it isn't grabs your attention and is well written.
From the prologue: "The knowledge that Archer would soon end the life of another cut at his soul with every step he took."
The first line establishes the who and what, while leaving just enough mystery to keep you reading. The entire prologue (the whole book really), keeps this up, giving you just enough information but keeping the mystery actively building.
Brownie Points: I touched on it already, but my favorite part was the dark Gothic feel of the entire novel. It is less the traditional ParaRom and more my college days of Gothic lit classes. Or Beauty and the Beast meets Phantom of the Opera. Your choice.
Brownie Point Two: I'm breaking my own format (because that never happens). I usually only focus on the first book in a series, but I love the opening of book two, Moonglow, in which we see Ian try bedding a whore... but he goes soft. Now that would get any reader's attention (agent or editor or otherwise).
Narrator's Performance: (As these novels were audio books for my commute, I have to comment on the presentation.) Soundly decent performance. Not the best female/male voices ever, but pacing was good and character voices unique. The thing that made it nearing a terrific performance though is the fact that the narrator was British, which lent an authentic air to the listen.
Who Should Read It: Anyone who reads or writes in any genre remotely relating to ParaRom (or Gothic or Steampunk, etc). It's a fresh take that readers will find welcoming especially if they have read too many ParaRoms in a row (*raises hand, not at all ashamed of it either*).