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review 2014-03-09 00:17
A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards
A Hint of Frost - Hailey Edwards

I won A Kiss of Venom in a BookLikes giveaway and decided to push it to the top of my TBR. However, it's Book 3.5 in Edwards' Araneae Nation series, and I wasn't sure how confused I'd be if I read the series out of order. Since I already owned A Hint of Frost, Book 1 in the series, I figured it couldn't hurt to read that first.

After her mother, the Araneidae clan's leader, is poisoned to death, Lourdes becomes the clan's newest maven. There's no time yet to mourn – the clan has been betrayed by its Theridiidae allies and is still in danger. Lourdes does the only thing she can think of: she contacts Isolde, the Mimetidae maven and her mother's friend, and asks for protection and help finding her mother and father's killer. In exchange, Lourdes agrees to supply the Mimetidae clan with Araneidae armor and to carry out a binding ceremony with whomever Isolde chooses. Isolde's choice turns out to be Rhys, one of her sons.

This book was a little overwhelming at first. There were lots of clan names to remember, and each clan had its own characteristics. The Araneidae could spin silk that was stronger than metal – hence the Mimetidae clan's desire for armor made by them. Members of the Theridiidae clan could produce deadly venom (although I think other clans were sometimes venomous as well, just not as deadly?). The Mimetidae clan's members ate the raw flesh of their enemies after battle in order to gain their strength.

The various clans could interbreed, but I'm still not entirely sure what effect this had on their clan-specific abilities. Lourdes and her siblings were all half Theridiidae, but, ability-wise, they seemed to be wholly Araneidae, so I thought maybe clan abilities were passed on via mothers. However, that didn't seem to hold true for all characters with multi-clan heritage.

World-building confusion wasn't the only problem I had with this book, or even the worst. The worst was probably Lourdes. Lourdes was a combination of stupid, naive, and forgetful. During his investigation of Lourdes' parents' deaths, Rhys found evidence that led Lourdes to suspect that Pascale, her sister, had likely been the murderer's lover. Here were Lourdes' thoughts on how to handle that suspicion:

“I had many questions, but only Pascale knew the answers. Given her toxic reaction to Rhys, I thought it best I keep these suspicions to myself and let him find his own conclusions. We could compare notes and, if necessary, I would approach Pascale and interrogate her alone for answers.” (35)

This was the first bit of evidence they'd found that could help them identify the killer, and Lourdes didn't think it was necessary to immediately talk to her sister, either on her own or with someone else as a witness? Seriously?

Of course, Pascale ran off at the first opportunity. Despite the evidence that she had willingly run off with a Theridiidae lover, Lourdes wanted so badly to believe that Pascale hadn't played a part in their parents' murder that she changed her deal with Rhys and the Mimetidae clan, asking that he help find and bring back Pascale. My estimation of her went down another few notches.

I had problems with the romance as well, in part due to my issues with Lourdes. I was supposed to believe that Lourdes was a little scared of and repulsed by Rhys, because he was part of the Mimetidae clan (violent, raw flesh-eating, etc.). However, from the moment she first laid eyes on him, she was attracted to him. It was blindingly obvious that, at some point, Lourdes would learn that Rhys was Not Like the Other Mimetidae, so that her attraction to him would suddenly be okay. I guessed some of the truth about Rhys fairly early on. Lourdes, of course, did not, because she needed to be jealous of Rhys's possible relationship with a woman from another clan.

I really wanted to like this book. Sadly, I didn't. The world-building was confusing, the writing didn't really work for me, and Lourdes, who should have been awesome considering that she was one of the few people in her clan who'd been trained to fight, was a disappointment.

I'm now worried about reading A Kiss of Venom. On the one hand, it's a little reassuring that the main characters will be different: it stars Armand, one of Lourdes' brothers, and a new female character. On the other hand, I'll still have the confusing world-building to deal with, Armand was not my favorite of Lourdes' brothers (I preferred Henri, the herbalist), and I'm afraid I'll be lost as far as series-level plot developments go. A Hint of Frost ended with the yellow death storyline still unresolved, and the description of A Kiss of Venom mentions that Armand had previously lost “the woman he loved.” Since this woman wasn't mentioned at all in A Hint of Frost, I assume she was introduced, and died, in a later work.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-14 20:32
I don't feel the love...
A Hint of Frost - Hailey Edwards

It has a nice story flow, but I have some problems with it.

 

Some of the plot construction seems clumsy and predictable to me (e.g. the sister/treason stuff/Rhys' big secret/the relationship development between Rhys and her etc.). I didn't like the "virgin till real marriage" line - that is a very typical m/f romance thing - over-used and expandable. Also the groom not being allowed to see her wedding dress before the ceremony.

 

Of the characters I liked Rhys best, but he also stayed card-board heroic - alpha in the sense of dangerous fighter, but vulnerable and caring as a true modern guy.

 

I found the world building more than confusing - starting with the names in this strange world: male lead is called Rhys, which is basically a British name; his brother's name is Vaughn. And then the female lead's siblings are called Pasacale (a girl!), Armand and Henri - so we go French here. And then there are side characters like Wishövi (WTF?) and Masikookyang (double WTF??). The first one is a Hopi word for spider web according to google. And the best one: The female lead is called Lourdes (a "holy" place in France, Madonna's daughter is also named after it).

  

There is mentioning of Anis and Licorice. But there are also fantasy animals and the "Araneae" are some kind of spider-people. 

 

This kind of stuff really bugs me - it is the same when characters in historicals say "Okay" all the time. 

 

It was overall an ok read, but I won't continue with the series - there are better ones out there I am sure and so I'd rather search on.

 

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review 2013-10-17 23:52
Spiderman, Spiderman, Does Whatever a Spider Does
A Hint of Frost - Hailey Edwards

I'm sorry, I couldn't help it with the title of the review.

 

Damn it, why is this so hard.  I sat in front of the computer to write this yesterday too.  See how well that turned out?  Yup, nope, still no review.

 

Basically:

  • I enjoyed it.
  • I almost quit before it got started with some of the talk that the realm wasn't safe without a male.  But then that stopped.
  • It was sexy.
  • But not overly sexy.
  • It really felt like two people who met, and by circumstance were forced together, and found themselves begudgingly beginning to like each other.
  • I liked the Spidey stuff.
  • I even liked that all the "species" of spider-people had different genetic attributes.

 

Good, entertaining, popcorn read.  Paranormal Romance still isn't my genre of choice, but maybe I'll be more open to it.  Okay, I give up, that's as good a review as it's getting.  I might revisit this, but I doubt it.

 

Oh, I almost forgot.  I received this book for free from BookLikes Giveaways.  Yes, people, they're winnable!

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review 2013-10-15 00:00
A Hint of Frost - Hailey Edwards 4.5 stars

I love this fantasy romance and the awesome world building. The last time I read the same genre that make me love it as much was Master of Crows by Grace Draven. I did find the name of the clans and some make-up noun intimidating and I have a hard time pronouncing (not that I read out loud) and keep track of the words. It would be handy if there is a glossary page for me. But all these is part of the charm of the book.

Our heroine Lourdes, is the eldest daughter of the Araneidae clan heads and with the sudden passing of both her parents, she found herself becoming the youngest maven ever appointed. She had her plate full dealing with finding out the culprit behind her parents death, bring peace among her clan and lastly sought alliance with the Mimetidae clan. Even if it means agreeing to a political marriage, this is what she needs to do.

Rhys is the youngest son of the Mimetidae clan heads and a warrior at heart. His clan had a reputation of being cannibal and fearsome mercenary, so Lourdes was expecting an ogre. But Rhys turn out to be such a humble and noble hero that I can't help but love him. He seems stoic and vague most of the time. I want to know what is going on in his head. What I do know is Rhys is determine to fulfill his promises and claim her in the end. I love their interaction during their alone time, there is much to discover and enjoy in their dialogues.

"Should I assume your vagueness means you'd rather not answer?"
"I'd rather not frighten you without cause."
"Because hearing you're concerned isn't frightening in its own right."


Initially Lourdes promise to wed Rhys if he help her to avenge her parents death, but when her sister goes missing, she decided that finding her sister is of utmost priority. Together with Rhys's brother, Vaughn, the trio set out to track down her sister and in the mean time they encounter some adventure along the way. There are spirit walkers, mysterious death among the animals and path crossing with the Theridiidae clan. If Rhys is the model of good guys, Vaughn is the direct opposite. He makes me wanted to hit him most of the time, but I find him to be such an interesting character too. Rhys and Vaughn had some siblings rivalry going on, but when shit hits the fan, we know both the brothers care for each other. I love their little weird dysfunctional relationship.

Told entirely from Lourdes' POV, Rhys seems to be such a enigmatic and mysterious character. I just can't wait to learn more about his background. Then the more I learn about him, the more I fell for him. Enough of reading about rakes out there, for once I enjoy reading about a man with honor and values. Well, I'm not giving away his past here. Just gonna say he melt my heart and make me swoon most of the time.

"I want more from you than your honor. I want to be more to you than your duty."

I admire both Lourdes and Rhys for their commitment to their vows and promises and the sacrifices they willing to make for their clans. They respected each other and willing to make things work for them. Although they were together due to a political allegiance, they grow to care and love one another. I like the fact that they take times to get to know each other well and truly fell in love before they seal the deal.

"Beneath the cool water, his mouth found its way to mine and his lips moved across them. I'm yours. I understood him as clear as if he'd spoken in my ear."

Due to this being Book 1, the world building and introduction to some of the setting might be a tad overwhelming, but truly this book is romance at its heart. Despite me not able to visualize what exactly did Brun and Mamoan looks like (I assume they looks like miniature dinosaurs), I fell in love with romance part of the story. Its subtle and undertone without flaunting lust and sexuality around, yet it is wholly satisfying. Is a nice break for me from romance that is full of drama and angst. I would have prefer there is a dramatic fighting scene towards the end and with that, it will definitely be a 5 stars for me.

"If we knew nothing else in our ever-changing world, we'd know love, when we made it, expressed the threads that bound our lives. Not so weak a thing as venom and not so brief a thing as desire."
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text 2013-10-14 11:58
Finished
A Hint of Frost - Hailey Edwards

Full Disclosure:  I entered this giveaway by accident.   I had too many tabs open and thought I was entering a different giveaway.  Paranormal Romance is not my genre of choice.    However,  pleasantly, I found myself begrudgingly enjoying it. 

 

A real review to come probably Wednesday.   That's when I'll finally have some time.   I'm actually using my cell phone at work to post this right now ...

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