Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “My life began with you.“
Poppy Lane thought she was doing the right thing when she kept the secrets her mother forced upon her growing up. When her husband is brutally attacked, she is forced to reveal her secrets and the consequences may be more than she can bear.
Winston Lane has loved Poppy from the first moment he saw her striding through the train station. Fourteen years of marriage has only deepened his love for her, but when he discovers that his wife has been living a secret life apart from him, he’s devastated at her betrayal and leaves her in anger.
After three months of separation, Poppy receives a note from an old enemy that hints at retribution through Winston. She swallows her pride and goes to him, intent on keeping him safe and attempting a reconciliation. But Winston isn’t ready to forgive Poppy. And when more secrets come to light, Poppy isn’t altogether sure he should.
Winterblaze is the third installment in Callihan’s Darkest London series. A dark, sensuous, paranormal romance whose world is built upon the past, set in Victorian England. Heavily character driven, it’s the sensuous evolution of our protagonists and the plot lines that make this series such a fascinating journey. Smooth writing and sharp descriptive detailing drew me in as Callihan further explores and reveals the supernatural wonders of her world. I continue to be impressed by the time and effort Callihan takes in developing her characters and their connections to the world and each other. Each new book offers more evidence of the ties that bind them all together. I don’t recommend reading this as a stand alone. Though each book revolves around a main hero and heroine and has a resolvable conflict, the longstanding arc continues to develop in each new story and the characters bleed over. (The first two books, Firelight and Moonglow are just as good)
We’ve received glimpses of Poppy and Winston Lane throughout the series. They are portrayed as much older and staid compared to Miranda and Dolly. Solid and dependable, their story never seemed all that interesting. Boy, was I wrong. Callihan tells their story in the present with fascinating glimpses into the past, starting with the day they met. Winston was overwhelmed by his love and desire for Poppy then and it only deepens as time goes on.
He fell against the brick wall of the overpass as he cupped her cheeks with his hands and devoured her mouth, needing to touch her, taste her, more than he needed to breathe. This is what he had been missing. This was what made him feel whole.
It’s not often we get an established couple in romance and I found myself enchanted by them. The dichotomy of their relationship is carefully examined by Ms. Callihan’s method of telling the story in the present with glimpses into their past, starting with their first meeting. Passions ignite and personalities clash as they both try to fight their way through the anger and resentment that caused their separation. Poppy and Winston find themselves forced to reveal parts of themselves to one another that highlights their hidden vulnerabilities. Neither like to appear weak, so this is an enlightening and scary experience for both of them. Your heart will ache once you understand the full scope of what exactly led them to the point they are at now. Their dialogue is seductive and humorous. They are equally matched in temperament and the battles they wage are merely foreplay for them.
Secondary characters, both old and new, are revealed in ways that further develop the storyline and long standing arc, expanding its boundaries, and allowing Callihan to continue to develop this world and its players. Jack Talent, valet to Lord Ian, joins Winston on his journey and plays a large part in the story. Mary, the GIM we met in Moonglow, is also present, having been promised a job in the SOS. Alliances are made and betrayals revealed, along with revelations that affect all three of the Ellis sisters.
The story maintains a steady but fast pace with intriguing suspense, engaging tragedy laced romance, and tense action packed scenes. Callihan maintains the perfect balance between the romance and the conflict; allowing each to unfold in their own way, traveling side by side and intersecting when needed. The ending comes at you hard and fast, leaving you reeling and grasping for book four. Callihan continues to engage and tempt us with a strong paranormal romance with a delicious historical base that is sure to appeal to all those who love strong dynamic characters, intriguing storylines, and romantic journeys that speak to the heart.