Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven

Amid the Winter Snow

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 promi...

Title:Amid the Winter Snow
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Amid the Winter Snow Reviews

  • Marta Cox

    Four stories by four pretty formidable authors and what a treat for their fans this book is. Plus if new to these authors then a fabulous way to sample their work.

    Ok the first story by Grace Draven shows a friends to something much more kind of story. A young impressionable girl who is horribly bullied meets her brothers new teacher. Their mutual respect shines so bright and of course there's a very happy ending.

    The second story connects to the Elder Races books but has a much more type of fanta

    Four stories by four pretty formidable authors and what a treat for their fans this book is. Plus if new to these authors then a fabulous way to sample their work.

    Ok the first story by Grace Draven shows a friends to something much more kind of story. A young impressionable girl who is horribly bullied meets her brothers new teacher. Their mutual respect shines so bright and of course there's a very happy ending.

    The second story connects to the Elder Races books but has a much more type of fantasy vibe. A woman protected by a Goddess has prophetic dreams but which choice should she make ?

    Third up is a story that slots into the Irin world by this author featuring violent descendants of Angels. There is a romance here but I thought it more about the progression of the different species at war and the possibility of a distant peace.

    Finally Ms Kennedy offers a story that revisits characters from her Twelve Kingdoms series and its an emotional story. Two very different people who love each other but who really need to learn to communicate !

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and happily recommend it although obviously I did have my favourites but it was time well spent and I'm already eager for more !

    This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair

  • Shanna Matheo

    Thea, Grace and Jeffe in one anthology?

  • Elizabeth Hunter

    IT'S HERE!!!!!!

    ➜Amazon:

    ➜iBooks:

    ➜Nook:

    ➜Kobo:

    ➜Smashwords:

    ➜Google Play:

    There is a brand new chapter of the Irin Chronicles in this anthology, THE STORM, which is Max and Renata's story.

    (Hi, Maxim.)

    So here's the expanded synopsis for THE STORM:

    Scarred by loss, Irina warrior Renata has held the wo

    IT'S HERE!!!!!!

    ➜Amazon:

    ➜iBooks:

    ➜Nook:

    ➜Kobo:

    ➜Smashwords:

    ➜Google Play:

    There is a brand new chapter of the Irin Chronicles in this anthology, THE STORM, which is Max and Renata's story.

    (Hi, Maxim.)

    So here's the expanded synopsis for THE STORM:

    Scarred by loss, Irina warrior Renata has held the world at a distance. Fighting the Grigori and protecting humanity are her goals, but her heart remains frozen to the bonds of family and love. Only one scribe, Maxim of Riga, has managed to see through Renata’s armor.

    Maxim may spend his days collecting intelligence for the Irin Council, but his nights are spent dreaming about a prickly Irina warrior who continues to elude his dogged pursuit. They’ve been lovers and allies for decades, but Max wants more. He knows Renata was wounded, but he also sees her capacity for love.

    On the darkest night of winter, in the halls of her ancestral home, Renata is forced to face her past. Can a fierce storm and a stubborn scribe coax her back to life, or will she retreat into duty forever?

    THE STORM is a paranormal romance novella in the Irin Chronicles.


    In addition to Max and Renata's story, there's a nice little side-plot about a very INTERESTING addition to the Irin world. And for those of you wondering, I will eventually be publishing this on its own, but probably not until next holiday season. So if you're an Irin fan, grab this now! It's really a tremendous value because I know most of my readers love at least one of the other three other authors in this anthology. And if you've never read any of them before, TRUST ME, you're going to want to!

  • RachelW (BamaGal)

    4.5 Stars. This is such a lovely story, as always. Draven is a wonderful fantasy storyteller who I wish put out books at a faster pace. The novella is set in the same world as ‘Master of Crows’ and ‘Wraith Kings’. Jahna is a spirited young woman with a facial disfigurement, and Lord Radimar her brother’s new sword master. An engaging, well told short story which takes place over period of years as Jahna, a young apprentice king’s chronicler, pens a record of R

    4.5 Stars. This is such a lovely story, as always. Draven is a wonderful fantasy storyteller who I wish put out books at a faster pace. The novella is set in the same world as ‘Master of Crows’ and ‘Wraith Kings’. Jahna is a spirited young woman with a facial disfigurement, and Lord Radimar her brother’s new sword master. An engaging, well told short story which takes place over period of years as Jahna, a young apprentice king’s chronicler, pens a record of Radimar’s life. The ending was a tad cutesy in the rush to wrap up; but overall it was prime Draven excellence.

    The teaser about Megiddo left this fangirl’s heart fluttering.

    3 Stars. This one is part of the author’s pretty good “Elder Races” series, but takes place completely on Ys, with random mentions of the earth plane. Lily is ‘the Chosen’ of the realm, and has a vision that two warriors will battle over her home, and one will win her. That’s pretty much it for the storyline. It took place in just a couple of days; in which Wulf came, saw, and conquered. This short story suffers from the same problems as Harrison’s other between-the-books ss. There is really not much plotline, the story rambles on, and is highly over-descriptive to fill page space. As always, these ss suffer greatly from the lack of professional editing and polish that could reduce some of these glaring issues.

    4 Stars. This short story takes place within Hunter’s “Irin Chronicles” world. Renata lost her mate to a Grigori attack, and Max has spent 18 years trying to work his way into her heart and life. Although I love Hunter’s lyrical writing style and her other books, this has not been my favorite series written by her. I did enjoy the second chance at love trope, but I’m not a fan of flashbacks; and this went even further, into timeline jumping. I found that frustrating. Other than that, this is a very enjoyable, well written story by a favorite author set in a fascinating fantasy setting.

    DNF...there was nothing intrinsically wrong with this story; but it was obviously part of an ongoing series; and read like being dropped into the middle of a bigger book. The plotline and relationship was already well established. I had no prior knowledge of the characters or plot, yet it was written as if I should know. I’m sure this is a nice series; but this was too confusing for me to get interested in or continue.

  • Angela (Angel's Guilty Pleasures)

    features four novellas that where charming, delightful, and engaging to read. Thea Harrison is the only author in this anthology I’m familiar with, so the other three were new to me. I was drawn into the stories and taken for a whirlwind ride of heartache, conflict, healing, and love. Each novella is distinct, special, and focuses around a winter holiday. Out of all the novellas featured the only one I didn’t care for was

    features four novellas that where charming, delightful, and engaging to read. Thea Harrison is the only author in this anthology I’m familiar with, so the other three were new to me. I was drawn into the stories and taken for a whirlwind ride of heartache, conflict, healing, and love. Each novella is distinct, special, and focuses around a winter holiday. Out of all the novellas featured the only one I didn’t care for was

    by Jeffe Kennedy.

    I very much loved

    I couldn’t put the story down and devoured from begging to end.

    When we first meet Jahna she is only fifteen and being tormented by a group of girls. The Delyalda celebration is never a fun time for her; because of this. As the years move on we see her learn swordsman ship along side her brother as well as becoming an accomplished scholar by writing down all the stories she is told. At the begging we also meet Radimar he is seven years older then Jahna and to be her brothers sword master teacher for four years. We see how their relationship develops over the years. How the romance blossoms between them. It’s sad and sweet.

    I liked how the author made the time move on and how the characters change and grow throughout years. It was also very sweet how Radimar helped coax Jahna to be more confident and have courage.

    *****

    I very much enjoy the

    series and this novella was no exception.

    Lily can see things and she’s been having dreams about two men battling. Now that Wulf has arrived on her doorstep she must choose sides. One will lead to happiness, while the other will lead to despair.

    Wolf is a bad and good man wrapped up in one. He’s formidable and honorable too. Lily is the Chosen and leader of her people. I liked Lily and Wolf. Both knew the hardship of being leaders for their people and living with chooses that may not always turn out. Their chemistry together was wonderful, these two complemented each other, and their romance was enchanting.

    *****

    I was a bit unsure going into

    but the more I read the more interesting the novella became and now I’m curious about reading the series this one takes place in the

    Renata & Maxim from what I got are side characters in the series or so it seams to me. Since I haven’t read the series I’m not positive. A lot happens; before these two meet and after they meet as well. Their courtship spans over 18-years.

    The author showcase Renata and Maxim throughout the years. We get some of their backstory as well as little parts of information on what happens in the

    series too. I cried in a few parts throughout this novella. It’s hard to move on when your lose is so big, but Maxim never gives up on Renata and their love is captivating.

    *****

    This one was my least favorite. Why? Well we’re coming into the middle of this couples relationship or whatever it is between them. The backstory is lacking and from what I’ve discovered this novella is part of

    series. Ami has her own story,

    Ami is Queen and also an Avatar for a Goddess. She’s also got two young children from a previous marriage, not sure on how that relationship was, but we know her husband is dead. Ash is a low born, a half-blooded something, and was thrown in prison as a child for who knows what. Their relationship is push and pull. He knows deep down that he will have to let her go, even though he loves her and she loves him, but he keeps pulling away. It's so back and forth. Also their is mention of a waking dragon at Castle Windroven, but that storyline/plot isn’t completed.

  • Kindling Micky

    4 stars overall

    In the Darkest Midnight - Grace Draven 4.5 stars

    Grace Draven delivered on a novella with the fullest sense of story, characterisation and completion. It had a seasonal feel in terms of some key moments in the story, though of course not traditional Christmas. This is a story told over more than a decade that is set in a world tenuously connected to Bast Haradis with a cameo from a character from Radiance and Eidolon. Jahna was a wonderful character, with that departure from tradi

    4 stars overall

    In the Darkest Midnight - Grace Draven 4.5 stars

    Grace Draven delivered on a novella with the fullest sense of story, characterisation and completion. It had a seasonal feel in terms of some key moments in the story, though of course not traditional Christmas. This is a story told over more than a decade that is set in a world tenuously connected to Bast Haradis with a cameo from a character from Radiance and Eidolon. Jahna was a wonderful character, with that departure from traditional beauty that Grace Draven is so good at. Her admiration for Radimar is something to behold, young crush at first and over time their connection was beautiful. The world and the characters pulled me in so completely, the writing slipped into my imagination with ease. This winter anthology started off in the best way possible.

    The Chosen - Thea Harrison 4 stars

    This is my first read by Thea Harrison and I can say I’m infected in the best way by the story and characters that she weaved. This magical story of war, confrontation, leadership, desire and connection was superb. Wulf was both a bad and good man wrapped up in one, formidable and yet honourable. Lily was the chosen one, leader of her people at the abbey. She was a very interesting character to get to know and I loved their chemistry together. I would have to say that I came to this anthology for Grace Draven and found Thea Harrison of a similar style, so I’ll be checking out her work.

    The Storm - Elizabeth Hunter 2.5 stars

    My least favourite of the anthology, partly because angel stories aren’t really my bag (despite the subtlety of the context) and partly because I just didn’t gel with the storyline. I think this is because it is a novella from a wider series and I lacked knowledge of the world building necessary to appreciate it fully.

    The Snows of Windoven - Jeffe Kennedy 3.5 stars

    Whilst this book is a novella from a series I’ve not read, I did not feel disadvantaged. It was cleverly written so I could understand everything I needed for the purposes of this story and it’s world. The focus was a relationship of some longevity, a queen and consort and their battle to keep or lose what they had. It was sensual and riveting with a fantasy world that piqued my interest.

    A copy of this anthology was provided by the publisher through netgalley in return for a honest review.

    Reviewed for Jo&IsaLoveBooks Blog.

  • Douglas Meeks

    NOTE: I typically do not copy the synopsis in a review because it looks like the reviewer is just trying to make it look longer but with 4 stories I thought I might help the reader not have to look back and forth for each story. I can almost promise you that you will find at least 1 or more of these stories 5 Star reading for almost any taste.

    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, crowde

    NOTE: I typically do not copy the synopsis in a review because it looks like the reviewer is just trying to make it look longer but with 4 stories I thought I might help the reader not have to look back and forth for each story. I can almost promise you that you will find at least 1 or more of these stories 5 Star reading for almost any taste.

    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…

    This was the best story of the lot by a narrow margin and more because it was a totally stand-alone story that did not leave me feeling unsatisfied. The fact that I knew someone years ago with a similar condition to Jahna has might have made me a bit biased. The story moved along and seldom left you wanting to scan pages to get to a better place. I am a sucker for stories about weak people finding out they can be strong.

    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…

    When I said Ms Draven’s story was the best, the only reason I did not choose this one was because it was SO good that I felt horrible that it had an ending, there was still story to tell about these people and it captivated me from start to finish. It ends in a good place but you did not want to let these folks go away it was so good.

    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…

    Here we have another story from Ms Hunter’s Irin world and I felt like I was reading a story I had already read and was about to put it in the “nice and sweet” pile even though it told of much horrible tragedy in the past and the weight of grief. Then up jumped another plot as I thought we were about getting to the end of this story, things take a bit of a different turn and while it did not leave me wanting more as much as “The Chosen” I could have a read a bit more but things are tied up nicely and as with most of her writing this is a love story at its heart.

    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…

    OK, this is a story of two stupid people in love and is carved out of what I thought was already a HEA in the original book dedicated to Amelia (my memory must be faulty) and turned it into a romantic crisis. While I enjoyed the story I always have a problem with 2 people in love that can’t seem to get to the point where nothing else matters and dance all around each other trying to “do the best” for the other one. While things take a turn for the worse at one point it was still a great story. My only caveat is I cannot tell how much of a problem (if any) the reader who has not read the 12 Kingdoms Trilogy might have with the background of this story.

  • Melindam

    ARC received from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    Mixed feelings.

    I had not been familiar with any works by the authors published in this anthology of short winter stories, so I thought maybe this would be a good introduction.

    Unfortunately, I found that these stories did not have it in them to tempt me to try and read more from their authors with the exception of

    .

    All in all, these stories were meant for their fans who are familiar with their books/worlds

    ARC received from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    Mixed feelings.

    I had not been familiar with any works by the authors published in this anthology of short winter stories, so I thought maybe this would be a good introduction.

    Unfortunately, I found that these stories did not have it in them to tempt me to try and read more from their authors with the exception of

    .

    All in all, these stories were meant for their fans who are familiar with their books/worlds. As a non-fan I could not really appreciate them.

  • Celestine

    This anthology brings together four experienced and successful fantasy romance authors, who supplement their respective canons with stories centered around the winter solstice. Tonally, these novellas highly complement one another, but there are varying degrees of success in terms of placing the reader in the respective universes. To give you perspective on my perspective, I have read seven novels/novellas by Grace Draven, one novel by Thea Harrison, three novels/novellas by Elizabeth Hunter, an

    This anthology brings together four experienced and successful fantasy romance authors, who supplement their respective canons with stories centered around the winter solstice. Tonally, these novellas highly complement one another, but there are varying degrees of success in terms of placing the reader in the respective universes. To give you perspective on my perspective, I have read seven novels/novellas by Grace Draven, one novel by Thea Harrison, three novels/novellas by Elizabeth Hunter, and this is the first time I've read anything by Jeffe Kennedy.

    Some of Draven's leading men can be implacable scoundrels (i.e. Silhara and Cededa), and for whatever reason, maybe because of the scars and the sword, I expected Sir Radimar to be like them. But no, he was the King of Calm and Cool, until young Jahna turns his world inside out. Draven has crafted main characters who are honorable and dedicated and smart, but plagued by their perceived inferior traits. This story takes place over the course of years, with the same mid-winter festival playing a key role. There is considerable emotional depth to this story, even with side characters, such as the relationship of siblings Jahna and Sodrin (wonderful!). This is a story of personal growth rather than danger or action adventure. Even so, it is completely absorbing, and this is due to superior world-building and deep characterization. The story is tangential to The Wraith Kings, but only in terms of the plot of that novel being a major, if distant, "recent" event. Five stars.

    I've not read a book that deals with Ys, so I had no frame of reference. It didn't matter. I was absorbed by the dilemma of how Lily will lead the abbey and its village retainers through an impending war. I enjoyed the interplay of Lily and Wulf, whose levity on "flirting" was the perfect counterpoint to the gloom and doom of approaching battles and miserable cold. Although there was a bit of insta-love, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and how they came to build trust. I was a bit lost in the understanding of the bridge between Earth and Ys, but I enjoyed the writing enough to look up others in the potential universe. I was so effortlessly pulled into the story that I took just one note as I read along. That is what I call absorbed. Five stars.

    This was my least favorite of the offerings in this anthology, mainly because I felt completely lost in the beginning of the story, and lack of familiarity with the Irin Chronicles had me floundering. Plus, I felt the world-building suffered from sloppy info-dumping. However, after the rough patch at the start, I fell into the rhythm of the angsty love story of Renata and Maxim. Their love was tested and had a more mature, sometimes somber, tone to it, despite some of the antics of Maxim. The beauty of tolerance in a season of forgiving is the message here, and it is lovely. 3.5 stars.

    This story is clearly a sequel to Kennedy's The Twelve Kingdoms series, which I had to look up since I hadn't read them. It appears to me that Queen Ami and her consort Ash had at least a happy-for-now ending in that series, but Ash is still plagued by his lower status and feels Ami needs to marry for the benefit of the kingdom. This story is them dancing around each other's feelings while succumbing to their lust, avoiding magical demons and dragons, and traveling to a remote holding to celebrate winter solstice. For all that this novella is clearly dependent on the previous series, I didn't feel very lost and believe that Kennedy did an admirable job of enfolding a new reader into her universe. She also has a way with words, direct yet poetic, that enamored me. Ash's lack of confidence bothered me, but it was clear that everyone considered him a leader among men. Seeing how he got that reputation made me want to read The Twelve Kingdoms. 4 stars.

  • Elena

    A

    's romance? Set during a winter festivity?! Huh:

    ? I'll have you know - in case you're unaware of the fact (the shame!) - that Grace Draven writes fantasy-romance like no other

    , incidentally, she also writes stunningly beautiful scenes set during winter festivals. It's one of her things, okay? Go read her (super)short story

    (but only after you've read

    , eh: or it would make little sense) if you don't believe me. Anyway

    A

    's romance? Set during a winter festivity?! Huh:

    ? I'll have you know - in case you're unaware of the fact (the shame!) - that Grace Draven writes fantasy-romance like no other

    , incidentally, she also writes stunningly beautiful scenes set during winter festivals. It's one of her things, okay? Go read her (super)short story

    (but only after you've read

    , eh: or it would make little sense) if you don't believe me. Anyway, this novella here happens to be a fantasy-romance primarily set during a winter festival. So: do your math. I've got really nothing else to say about

    if not to further tempt Draven's devotees by telling them that they'll find mention of a certain warrior-monk turned Wraith King from

    here.

    's

    was a different matter entirely. I know she's a beloved author so this is an obvious case of "it's me, not you" but I found her writing utterly uninspired and the characters yet another textbook example of the overbearing male / gentle and delicate but strong-willed female trope you can find in 96% of the romance genre - with the added... minus that both Wulf and Lily are

    bland and lifeless. The worldbuilding could have saved this short story but I guess I just couldn't be bothered enough to care, not after reading how, completely out of the blue, Wulf tries to seduce Lily by forcibly stuffing chocolate into her mouth. I can only guess that Harrison was going for sensual and romantic but I just didn't know whether to laugh or cringe. Awkward.

    Next up is

    by

    . Now, I really don't like angels. And the one time I tried to read a book by this author,

    , I DNFed it out of sheer boredom. Admittedly, the premises weren't encouraging: but, what do you know, it turned out I did like this novella. The Storm fits somewhere in between Hunter's

    and the author manages the not easy feat of not boring her long-time readers with infodump (well, okay: I'll admit to some guesswork here since I'm not a fan of the series myself) while not leaving her new readers in the dark. The worldbuilding and magic system are complex and inventive, the European setting amazingly accurate and evocative (I actually visited most of the places she mentioned and it was fun to imagine Irin and Irina mixed around us peons in Bergen and Prague), the characters three dimensional and captivating (I especially enjoyed how she reversed the usual roles in the relationship between Max and Renata: for once she's the one with a dark, painful past running from commitment) all wrapped up in a hopeful message of tolerance and forgiveness. The romance was a little too angsty for my taste, but lovely nonetheless.

    But the real treat of this anthology (surprisingly, since with Grace Draven in the mix the competition should have been nonexistent) was

    's

    , a novella set in the author's

    , which is what I'm going to be reading as soon as I'm done with this review. The story is told from Ash's POV and it's as romantic as it gets without ever becoming cheesy, the angst and heartache between the scarred hero and his queen delicious rather than aggravating: I can only imagine that if you've read about Ash and Ami before, this will be the Christmas gift you were waiting for (and I'm actually a little envious of you). The worldbuilding is fantastic. The characters are fantastic. The story itself is admittedly a little more than the set for all this awesomeness to happen, but - who cares? I bet I'll have plenty of action once I get my hands on the rest of the series.

    Amid the Winter Snow does its job in the best possible way: it's a great showcase for these four authors to prove what they can do to new readers, tempting them into reading more of their works (you got me, Mrs. Kennedy! And possibly you, too, Mrs. Hunter!), and it's a delightful treat for fans. Good job, ladies.


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