Review: Amid the Winter Snow

Review: Amid the Winter SnowAmid the Winter Snow by Elizabeth Hunter, Grace Draven, Jeffe Kennedy, Thea Harrison
Published by Jeffe Kennedy on December 12th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

This is an anthology of four separate novellas with the only connection being that each has a connection to the longest night of the year.

I liked all the stories in this anthology which is unusual. I thought each gave a glimpse into a different world and each had great characters.

IN THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT by Grace Draven: Jahna Ulfrida is bullied and made an outcast because of the birthmark on her face. While hiding from one of her tormentors, she meets her brother’s new swordmaster Sir Radimar Velus who promises to help her defend herself.

This was a sweet story that built from the beginning and takes place over quite a period of time so the characters get to know one another. I enjoyed how Jahna grows and changes through the years of the story and how these two find their way together in the face of overwhelming odds. Sometimes short novellas don’t work with complex stories, but this one was well developed and quite enjoyable. Rating: 4 stars.

THE CHOSEN by Thea Harrison: Lily has had visions where she has to choose between a wolf and a tiger. The man who she falls in love with has the possibility of saving her realm or destroying it. When a warrior comes to town, Lily has to decide which man he is.

This novella takes place in Harrison’s Elder Races universe although in a place apart from the characters and places in the novels. I very much enjoyed this story although the outcome seemed completely obvious from the start. The characters were so well drawn and interesting that I was disappointed that the story ended. (Maybe we will revisit them someday). Rating: 4 stars.

THE STORM by Elizabeth Hunter: Maxim of Riga has searched for Renata’s secrets for years. Renata lost her soul mate in a massacre that killed many of her people. Having annointed herself as a warrior to judgment, she has spent centuries getting revenge. Although Max and Renata have been acquainted for years, she will not allow herself to get any closer to him.

This was a painful story because Renata’s story shows the result of a dark war. This is not a story about two people falling in love, but rather a story of how someone goes on when all hope is lost for a future. The characters are the center of this story. There is a lot of information about the Irin Chronicles that I suspect that someone who has read that series would pick up on immediately, but even though I haven’t read the series, I could understand the conflicts involved and I enjoyed the story very much.  Rating: 4 stars.

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN by Jeffe Kennedy: Ash, the lover of Amelia the new Queen of the Twelve Kingdoms knows that his time with Ami is coming to an end. Ash knows that he is not worthy of being with Ami even though he loves her. Determined to escort her to safety and then leave, danger provides the opportunity for something else.

This is the story of a man who doesn’t think himself worthy and the woman who doesn’t want to let him go. Told in the first person, readers get to see Ash’s point of view throughout the entire story. It is clear that he is deeply in love but doesn’t know a way forward to what he wants. I thought this story was good because we see that Ash is such a good man who doesn’t see that in himself. I liked seeing how gentle and sweet he is but also with a good sexy strong man. Ami also is no prissy pushover herself. We don’t get to see these two get together here, but rather this book is at a critical point in their story. This is a Twelve Kingdoms/Uncharted Realms novella but I haven’t read anything from this series. Rating: 4 stars.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the author in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Spellbinder

Review: SpellbinderSpellbinder (Moonshadow, #2) by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #2
Published by Thea Harrison on July 18th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
five-stars

“There was no surviving some loves. No matter what happened to the love affair, whether it flourished or failed, those love struck mortal blows one carried for the rest of one’s life. This love she felt for him. This love was like that.”

FINAL DECISION:  Dark and difficult and I absolutely loved it.  One of my favorite couples from the Elder Races series (and its spinoff) in a story that kept me engaged for every moment.  A true redemption story.

THE STORY: Morgan le Fae has been forced to serve the Queen of the Light Court for generations doing despicable deeds for her against his will.  Morgan believes that he has become hardened to everything and everyone until he hears the music of a human woman Sidonie Martel. His budding obsession with her does not go unnoticed unfortunately and Sid is captured and turned over to the Queen who has her tortured and maimed.  In prison, a man comes to her in darkness healing her and offering her comfort even as he warns her not to trust him. Both trapped in different ways, Morgan and Sid find peace and hope in one another.

OPINION:  I loved this couple. There was so much pain and loss and drama for them to navigate. Sid is a woman who is a musical genius but also suffers from OCD. I loved how everything in her is broken and rebuilt in this story.  There is something so beautiful about her spirit as she deals with the magical realm in a way that she never expect or wanted. There is something very compelling in this story about this woman who just wants to live her life being swept up in the larger forces which irrevocably change her life. Sid makes this story feel real and grounded — where a story about magical realms and battles might otherwise feel too fantastical.  The quirks in her character made her a fun character to read and balanced the darkness in the story.  She is intelligent and reasonable and has a good handle on her own limitations.  Watching her world get destroyed made my heart hurt but the redemption in the story was beautiful.

And speaking of redemption, Morgan was a superior hero.  I love stories about the villain who is redeemed by love.  And while it turns out that Morgan isn’t as much a “bad guy” as he appeared, he is certainly haunted by his actions even though he was forced into committing them.  His character is so nuanced that I absolutely fell in love with him.  Those tortured and tormented heroes are like catnip to me and Morgan is definitely one of those.  He has been a “bad guy” who has made a couple of appearances in the series and now his story is revealed as more complex than it appeared.

Morgan’s background is founded on the Arthurian legend and this book puts an interesting twist on the legend.  For those who are familiar with the legend, this book takes a different angel that feels fresh. For those who are not as familiar, this book doesn’t require any prior knowledge.  It is merely intriguing flavoring to the story.

The relationship between Morgan and Sid builds in such a quiet and gentle manner.  The two are thrown into intense events and yet their relationship builds from little gestures and quiet moments.  This book is such a wonderful combination of these quiet and deeply emotional moments and these big wild adventures.  It was refreshing to have a story where the romance was slowly developed.  Time passes in this book and yet it didn’t feel like it was slow in its pace. Indeed, there is a lot packed in this book.  Much happens to these characters in a short time but their relationship has time to breathe and develop.

By the time this book was done, I wasn’t done with these characters. I hope that we will see them again in future books.  I would love to see how their relationship develops in the future.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Elder Races fans will get a welcome surprise by the end of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SPELLBINDER is the second book in the Moonshadow series which is a spin-off of the Elder Races series.  This book can be read on its own but is better as part of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book from the author in order to have the opportunity to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

five-stars

Review: Moonshadow

Review: MoonshadowMoonshadow (Moonshadow, #1) by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on December 13th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 335
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Sometimes things change irrevocably. You turn a corner, hear a new song, read a book, fall in or out of love, or look at a painting in a different light. Or you get shot several times.”

FINAL DECISION:  Harrison strikes off in a bold new direction in her Elder World.  A fabulous paranormal with an alpha hero and the woman who won’t take his orders. I absolutely loved how Sophie and Nik fought and argued and found themselves in love and true partners in battle.

THE STORY:  Sophie Ross comes to the United Kingdom searching for answers about her past.  After having been shot in her job as a witch consultant for the police, Sophie has to rebuild her life.  After a spell gives her a vision of a handsome and deadly man, Sophie ends up traveling to the U.K. where she meets Nikolas Sevigny — the man in her vision.  Nikolas is a knight of the Dark Court who is working to defeat the Queen of the Light Court. As part of his quest, Nikolas realizes that Sophie might be able to help him return home to engage in the battle.  This book takes place in the Elder Races world.

OPINION: The best part of this book is how Sophie and Nik fight and argue and learn to respect one another.

Nikolas is a definite alpha male. Controlling, in charge, demanding and a warrior in all ways. Nik has spent years alone.  Separated from his homeland by the warring of the Light Court, separated from his brother warriors by necessity, Nik has become colder and more closed in. The hardened years of war have made him more course and more desperate.

Sophie makes this book for me.  She is not going to take any orders, demands or gruff from Nik.  She can take care of herself — and Nik — and she is not going to allow him to control her.  Her combat with Nik allows Sophie to recover a part of herself that was damaged when she was shot as part of her job.  While strong willed and a warrior herself, Sophie is also gentle of heart and caring. In fact, it is her caring nature that draws her into the battle between the Dark and Light Courts.

The relationship between Sophie and Nik is combative and full of disagreements and ultimately explosive passion.  Both Sophie and Nik are warriors and they have to learn to deal with one another. While Sophie is not going to put up with Nik’s demands, she also knows when to bend to accommodate Nik’s own vulnerabilities and how to tame Nik’s instincts without making him a whipped puppy.  There is no damsel in distress in this book rather two equals who learn to fight together.

The story introduced here which involves the battle between the Light and Dark Court is intriguing and had plenty of action and heft to it to kept the pace of this book hopping. The characters are fascinating with good stories that have possibilities that I look forward to seeing played out in the rest of this trilogy.  With a mishmash of English legends including werewolves (in London), Arthurian and Midsummer Night’s Dream fairy characters (which of course have older mythological origins), at play here the book feels fantasy and real at the same time which is one of my favorite parts of Harrison’s Elder Races world books.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This series has an overarching story that begins here but doesn’t conclude in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MOONSHADOW is the first book in the Moonshadow Trilogy.  This series takes place in the same world as the Elder Races series but can be read on its own because it takes place in a different place with new characters.  A good time to try out Harrison’s Elder World books.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars