Burning Bright, the first book in Melissa McShane's latest series, The Extraordinaries,is a well crafted tale spun with care in an alternate universe almost identical to ours.
Elinor Pembroke wakes up, her bedchamber on fire. She extinguishes the flames with only a touch of her mind. But at 21, Elinor is considered too old to present her talent, after all, even her younger sister showed hers years ago. But Elinor's talent is much stronger than anyone anticipated. She is an Extraordinary Scorcher, and unusually powerful for even that.
Faced with the choice of being forced to marry a man who disgusts her, or living the rest of her life on the generosity of her relations, Elinor makes a third choice. One most unexpected, and unsuitable for any lady of her station.
While learning how to harness her powers, Elinor navigates her way through the unending bureaucracy of 19th century British Naval command. She meets another Extraordinary, the captain of the ship she is first assigned to. Captain Ramsey and Elinor strike up an unsuitable friendship, and that friendship saves the lives of them both.
Burning Bright was an enjoyable story, there was romantic tension throughout the book, but it didn't become blatant until the end, when Elinor makes the final decisions about who she is, what she wants, and what she will become. Which was nice. She wasn't pressured into the relationship, she didn't feel obliged to the romance, and it wasn't forced, it evolved naturally. This is a little unusual in most novels with that heavy of romantic tension, especially because the choices were left firmly in the female protagonist's hands.
The book is very well suited to YA/NA readers, although there are a few scenes with semi-explicit violence. But these scenes are handled with a light touch, and there are genuine reactions from the characters regarding their feelings about those acts.