Title: Amid the Winter Snow: A Holiday Anthology
Author: Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Format: Kindle, 454 pages
Published: 12 Dec 2017 (Brightlynx Publishing)
ISBN: ASIN: B078C7N4G4
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
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…
Amid the Winter Snow: A Holiday Anthology is a lovely assortment of festive reads by a formidable set of authors. I picked up this collection mainly for Thea Harrison’s contribution, but ended up enjoying them all.
Radimar grinned. “I cheat better.”
Grace Draven’s The Darkest Midnight is a friends-to-lovers tale. The heroine is a young girl who is being bullied because of a disfiguring facial birthmark. The hero, who has been hired to be her brother’s new teacher, gives her the means to defend herself against the bullies – a kind and caring solution as it empowered her and gave her means to defend herself. This story spoke to my heart as bullying has affected my family. This tale works very well as a standalone read. It is the first I’ve ever read by Grace and has piqued my interest to check out more of her books in the future.
“Do you always get your way?”
He tilted his head as he considered that. “I must confess I do.”
Not surprisingly, The Chosen by Thea Harrison is my favorite of the set. Thea is one of my favorite authors and I’ve inhaled everything by her I can get my hands on. The tale is a paranormal fantasy set in her Elder Races world. Even if you aren’t familiar with her books, you shouldn’t have any trouble with this story. The heroine has prophetic dreams and has to choose whether to align with the wolf or the tiger – both fierce adversaries - to save her homeland. Whichever she chooses, she’s destined to love…
“The horror of war isn’t captured by words, Father, but by the lament of a widow. The cries of a fallen brother. If we forget the emotion behind history, we have lost our souls.”
The Storm by Elizabeth Hunter is the only tale that I had trouble getting into. I actually read the opening chapters three times attempting to comprehend what was transpiring. If I had previously been familiar with Elizabeth’s Irin world which features violent descendants from angels, I’d not have had any issues. There is a romance, but it seems to take a backseat to both the conflict and to a horrible tragedy from the heroine’s past. Happily, I did persevere with the tale and am glad I did so – though it was my least favorite of the group. I will also share that this is the only story that made me want to cry at parts as the heroine dealt with love and terrible loss. That said, it did end happily romance-wise and with hope for the future, conflict-wise.
“Love doesn’t solve everything.”
“No.” She kissed me. “But it makes everything worthwhile.”
Finally, I’ve been hankering to check out Jeffe Kennedy’s books for quite a while. This collection presented the perfect opportunity to do so with her offering of The Snows of Windroven. This story works well as a standalone as I had no issue immersing into the tale in spite of not having ever read any of her books. It is the tale of two characters that come close to losing each other due solely to a striking lack of communication. It features the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and ex-convict Ash, Amelia’s unofficial consort. I confess I really wanted to give each a good shake as they were obviously blind and meant to be together. But, all works out well and I enjoyed dropping in on this part of their story.
This festive compilation is wonderful both for devoted fans and for newbies to sample a work from each of these four distinguished authors. All the stories feature warmly satisfying happy endings and are blissfully cliffhanger-endings-free making them perfect holiday escape reads!