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: Pia Does Hollywood

Pia Does Hollywood
Pia Does Hollywood by Thea Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tense, Dramatic and I love seeing Dragos, Pia and Liam

“Pia was the crown jewel in the dragon’s hoard.”

FINAL DECISION: Filled with intense scenes between Dragos and Pia, the novella adds to the Elder Races storyline while exploring a deeply personal plot that threatens both Pia and Dragos.

THE STORY: The diplomatic pact made in DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON means that a member of each demesnes ruling family must travel and stay with another demesne ruling family in order to foster peace and develop relationships. As a result, Pia has to spend a week with the Light Fae Queen in Hollywood. Dragos is not invited but has no intention of allowing Pia to go without him. He travels secretly to California. There are deadly secrets in Hollywood and they put Pia and Dragos in danger. In the process, the secrets that Dragos and Pia are keeping also are threatened to be revealed.

OPINION: I love Dragos and Pia. I would be pleased just to get an update on what they are doing (along with their adorable and amazing son Liam), but this novella ends up being a tense action suspense story that is immensely satisfying.

Dragos and Pia’s strong loving relationship is intensely sexual as well. Even this short novella depicts how much these two love and want one another. Fans of Dragos and Pia should be pleased to see that their relationship is well but still deepening and becoming more complex.

This novella also deals with the difficult relationship between the demesnes. Readers of the series know that distrust typifies the dealings between the different elder races. This time the suspicion and mistrust puts all the races in danger — and especially Dragos and Pia. The political dealings are always a highlight in this series and the interactions between Dragos and the Queen are really good stuff.

Finally, the action adventure plot surprises with its tension and drama. While I knew that everything would resolve itself in the end, I had to restrain myself from reading ahead to assure myself of it — the story was tense and people are in real danger. The introduction of new characters also hints at future storylines.

This novella has a lot of stuff for fans to dig into for the future.

WORTH MENTIONING: Stinkpot.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PIA DOES HOLLYWOOD is book 8.6 in the Elder Races series. It is also the second book in the novella trilogy that began with DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON. This novella can be read as a standalone. I do recommend, however, that readers first DRAGON BOUND and LORD’S FALL which are both about Dragos and Pia. While PIA DOES HOLLLYWOOD can be read apart from DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON, this novella continues the overarching story begun in that novella.

STAR RATING: I give this novella 5 stars.

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

Review: Liam Takes Manhattan

   For Fans of the Series, Liam is Growing Up

                                   Liam Takes Manhattan by Thea Harrison

                                   My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

“Everything felt at once too big and yet too restrictive  His chest constricted, and he couldn’t breathe as the wide, wild world crushed down on him.”

FINAL DECISION: This short story satisfies fans because we get to know more about the fascinating young man that Liam is becoming.  This novella focuses on Liam trying to figure of what to do as a young man in unique circumstances.  Cute, sweet and revealing about his character.

THE STORY: Liam is at an awkward phase.  The events in SHADOW’S END have left the young man feeling rebellious, confined and aimless.  He doesn’t know what to do with himself and has begun to feel the constriction of his loving family.  It is Christmas and his parents offer him something he has wanted for a while, but he is struggling with himself.

OPINION: This short story focuses on a moment of crisis for Liam.  Having too quickly grown into a young man, Liam is at the same crossroads that young people face — purpose in life.  I especially liked being given this glimpse into his life.  A fan of the series can expect that Liam will have an incredible story of his own one day and I appreciated being given insight into his evolving character.

Well written, sweet and moving the overarching story forward, this little gem of a novella will please fans of the Elder Races and provides a worthy coda to the events of SHADOW’S END.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is not a romance but rather part of the coming of age story for the amazing character of Liam.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LIAM TAKES MANHATTAN is book 9.5 of the Elder Races series.  It should be read after book 9 SHADOW’S END because it contains serious spoilers about that book.  It is also third of a trilogy of short novellas about the Cuelebre familly.  While readers don’t have to read the entire Elder Races series to enjoy this book, it would be better to at least read the prior books of the trilogy DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON and PIA DOES HOLLYWOOD.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

 

Review: Shadow’s End

Shadow's End
Shadow’s End by Thea Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Book Made Me Cry for Pages

“You did not walk away from those you loved. You fought for them, always, with everything you had, even if it meant fighting the long fight, and staying the hardest, quietest, most difficult course.”

FINAL DECISION: Deeply emotional, SHADOW’S END has less of the Elder Races series humor and instead demonstrates more emotion and pain than any other book in the series. Beautiful. This book made me cry and cry and then ultimately smile with happiness.

THE STORY: Two hundred years ago, Grayden, gryphon and First Sentinel of the Wyr met and began to fall in love with Beluviel, consort to the Elven HIgh Lord. In a short time, the two found and lost one another when they ended up making a deal with the pariah Djinn Malphas. The two had to agree to forgo any potential relationship with one another. Now the deal is at a critical point and Bel and Grayden have to come together again in order to free themselves from the Djinn.

OPINION: SHADOW’S END brings together various threads in the Elder Races universe to dramatic effect. This is the saddest book in the series. Readers of the series should be prepared for the stakes in to be raised. There are casualties in the ongoing story and this book brings this home.

The love story between Graydon and Bel mirrors the intense sadness of this book. These two find one another and then almost immediately are separated. Their love story was already difficult because she was married to the Elven High Lord when they meet, but their choices are taken from them almost immediately. This leads to years of separation and loss.

“At times, he thought falling in love must be the loneliest experience in the world.”

I admit that I am a great fan of these poignant, angst filled romances. Bel and Graydon have a sweet and gentle connection. One of my favorite parts of the book is that after all the drama and angst, the book allows the reader to breathe at the end and see the aftermath of the dramatic storyline.

This one also neatly ties in lingering issues in the Elder Races universe. Claudia and Luis from NATURAL EVIL make appearances and explain some of the lingering questions from that novella. Also making significant appearances are Julian and Melly (MIDNIGHT’S KISS), Grace and Khalil (ORACLE’S MOON) and Rune and Carling (SERPENT’S KISS). Of course, Dragos, Pia and Liam also make appearances. I loved the blending of the storylines of these characters. This book feels like a progression in the story and some longstanding problems are finally resolved.

The end of this book gives readers an idea of the direction that the overarching storyline is going. I love this series and I look forward to continuing to see the characters I love and being introduced to new and interesting characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: Two words; preg. nant.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHADOW’S END is the ninth novel in the Elder Races series. This book should be read as part of the series because it ties up threads from several other books and novellas.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

View all my reviews