My next pick for my top 10 books of 2014 is Evernight by Kristen Callihan.
Once the night comes . . .
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can’t control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.
Love must cast aside the shadows
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she’s the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.
I love Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. Callihan combines a richly developed world with compelling characters and romances. Steampunk is becoming more and more popular now, but when the series debuted in 2012 it was one of the first I’d read. I loved the juxtaposition of historical, technological, and magical. Callihan thinks outside the box when it comes to the paranormal. Each of her paranormal beings feels new and fresh, even the ones we see commonly in paranormal fantasy (vampires, werewolves). Rather than follow established rules and mythologies, Callihan throws them all away and creates her own.
But the main reason I read these books—and where Callihan really shines—is with romance building. For me, the most thrilling part of a romantic novel isn’t the sex, but the sexual tension: when you can feel the desire between the characters building and evolving.
Nowhere are Callihan’s talents on better display than in Evernight. The book follows the relationship between Will, a Sanguis demon (a vampire who feeds on human emotions through blood and other body fluids) and Holly, a human with the ability to control metal. Because of (circumstances I will not disclose because they spoil the previous book), Will is turning into metal—and Holly, with her unique powers, is the only one who can control his pain and madness. He literally cannot stay away from her. Swoon! (I say this with the full acknowledgement that, if my boyfriend could not stay away from me, I would go crazy and likely defenestrate him within a week. Maybe less. But my own hypocrisy aside, it’s really sexy in book form.)
Each book in the series has a stand-alone storyline and focuses on a different couple, so you can pick up at any point in the series without significant problem. However, you’ll be missing out on a big chunk of worldbuilding—which is one of the main appeals of the series—if you don’t start at the beginning, so consider picking up Firelight first and moving through the series in chronological order. You won’t regret it.