Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Jeffe Kennedy, Elizabeth Hunter
As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...
THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace DravenThe mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…
THE CHOSEN, by Thea HarrisonIn her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…
THE STORM, by Elizabeth HunterWhen her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…
THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe KennedyAs a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…
Published by Brightlynx Publishing on December 12th 2017
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FTC Disclosure: I received access to this book early through Advance Reader Copy (for free) in exchange for a review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Quick and Dirty: The stories in Amid the Winter Snow visit beautifully rich worlds weaving tales of love and loyalty. This anthology focuses on couples struggling to find their way to each other often in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and emotional baggage almost blinding them to what could be.
Each short story is vibrant and deeply emotional. These authors waste no time snaring your interest and weaving a tale worth reading. If you reach the end of Amid the Winter Snow without adding at least one new series to your “to be” read list, the only reason is you’re already a fan.
If you love stories built around interesting and complex characters and that skillfully pull you into their world even if you haven’t read the companion series you’ll absolutely enjoy all four stories shared in Amid the Winter Snow.
The Chosen by Thea Harrison led me to Amid the Winter Snow. So you know I skipped right to Lilly and Wulf’s story. Set in the world of the Elder Races but firmly on the Other side of a passageway, The Chosen is a tale set spinning by death and prophecy (the basis of oh so many mystically fantastic tales by Harrison).
Lilly has to make a choice and the fate of her people and the those of other lands hangs in the balance. If she chooses wrong, their whole world could descend into chaos and darkness. No pressure right? Led by faith in the goddess she serves and her own intuition, Lilly must find her way to trust and ultimately love. But the man she encounters is nothing she’s been expecting. Lilly is brilliantly awkward with an inner strength that’ll have you rooting for her to make her way to happy.
Wulf is on the warpath. Literally. He isn’t looking for love or companionship. He’s come in the hopes of gaining aid and an alley. What he’ll leave with will be more than even his rapier-sharp mind anticipates. But like all conquers he’s not foolish enough to let an opportunity slip through his fingers. Wulf exudes strength, cunning and just a hint of vulnerability that’ll make you wish he was your fate.
Harrison has a way of pitting unconventional women against powerful men with a wily instinct for brilliantly turning a trope on its head. Her worldbuilding is always richly three dimensional, her characters are complicated and humorous; these are individuals you’ll enjoy watching find their way. She builds a narrative that hinges on mystery and magic yet feels grounded and almost tangible. You’ll never quite know what’s coming next and you’ll end up smiling and wanting more when all is said and done. This story alone makes the entire anthology worthwhile. I hope she visits Lilly and Wulf soon.
I don’t know this author’s world, but now I really want to…
In the Darkest Midnight by Grace Draven – I haven’t the foggiest clue how this author’s work escaped me up until now but Jahna and Radimar story in the Amid the Winter Snow is a tale of beauty being more than skin deep in a world riddled with people I’m dying to know more about.
Draven hints at other adventures in this universe by artfully introducing using them in encounters with Jahna on her quest to chronicle the events around her for and become an Archivist. She loving, self-possessed, despite needing to go easier on herself, and wicked smart. You feel for her situation even as you root for her to capture her dreams. It smartly anchors her in a fully developed world without requiring you know any of those stories beforehand. Radimar is a compelling man with so many attractive qualities it’s almost easy to miss his core strength until it makes an appearance.
This is a sweet, hopeful love story. It’s a great addition to the Amid the Winter Snow. Draven showcases how enticing seeing a person come into their own can be. Plus, you can’t beat kick-ass sword fighting and moonlight dancing.
Not So Unrequited Love
The other two stories in Amid the Winter Snow, The Storm by Elizabeth Hunter and The Snows of Windroveen by Jeffe Kennedy, center a love that almost isn’t. These two stories have the heaviest emotional baggage. They each may also have a greater impact if you’ve read other stories set in these worlds. Certain references feel like there’s a deeper emotional richness just out of grasp not knowing the history.
With completely unique writing styles, both Hunter and Kennedy build stories around damaged people who don’t feel able or worth of love. These couples fight their way to happy – in one case literally – and while doing so heal wounds that are soul deep for one party.
I was moved and intrigued by these couples. I totally downloaded two new series.