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 Draven
The 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 Harrison
In 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 Hunter
When 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 Kennedy
As 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…
Its no secret that I have a love affair with Thea Harrison's Elder Races novels. Ever since I read Dragon Bound it has been one of my most favorite [and reread] series. And let's not mention how I feel that if Dragos, Pia and Peanut and their new bundle were real how I'd definitely be invited to Cuelebre manor for dinner.
But I digress..first off thanks to the author for providing this ARC for an honest review.
The story begins at an abbey that is under siege (and I use that term loosely) by Wulfgar, the Wolf of Braugne. If you're familiar with the Elder Race novels (you don't have to be to completely enjoy this read) then you know about the Other lands that run parallel to present day Earth. There are doorways in different parts of the world that open up to a different dimension where Others live. In these lands sorcery is king and the setting is somewhat medieval. There is no electricity and machines do not work in the Other lands (especially guns).
Wulfgar is at he Camael abbey requesting assistance with his campaign for justice. It is his belief that an Other land King is responsible for the death of his half brother and he needs the abbey's help. Lily is one of the inhabitants of the abbey and is also good friends with Margot, the Prime Minister of the abbey. To build faith, and to not officially put their abbey and their land of Ys under siege, Margot grudgingly agrees to let an abbey liaison assist Wulfgar. Lily is that liaison.
The abbey itself is full of soldiers and witches. Wulfgar knows that the current winter that the land is in is not natural. He thinks there are weather mages creating such inhospitable weather in order to force him back to his native lands to abandon his campaign. He needs the abbey's assistance to weed them out. Lily discovers more. What begins as a hesitant partnership, each side having ulterior motives, morphs into a partnership and a foundation for something more.
I know Thea Harrison as never producing anything that doesn't include mounds of action, plenty tension and a good dose of love and steamy love scenes. Her selection in this anthology was no different. I loved the Lily character, but I actually loved Wulfgar's character more. In the midst of a skirmish I got the best sense of who Wulfgar is at his core. He is unrelenting and his strength isn't relegated to just his body, it also includes his purpose. As he fights we get a glimpse of what victory in battle to him is, its pushing your body past the point of necessary functions. Not allowing the need for oxygen or rest to stop you from victory. Wow! That definitely let me know the type of person Wulfgar is. The reader is also privy to Lily's past and how it laid a foundation for her confidence in the goddess of the hearth and what she knows must be done for the survival of Ys. The two, Wulfgar and Lily, make the perfect partnership and I hope they are successful in Wulfgar's quest. I hope TH keeps us readers updated with their progress. This is definitely worth the read.