Author: Hailey Edwards
Page Count: 340 pages (digital)
Genre: fantasy romance
Copy for review was purchased by me
Back Cover Summary:
The only way to save her is to bind their souls as one.
Araneae Nation, Book 2
Born with the ability to communicate with the dead, few things take Mana by surprise. But when a canis lopes into her life, announcing himself as the long-dead father of a childhood friend, she’s shocked. To make matters worse, he has a dire message that she alone can deliver.
Now Mana must face Vaughn, the male who inspired one too many girlish fantasies, and impart the spirit’s message—without acknowledging her source—so the soul can be laid to rest.
With rumors of a burgeoning clan war setting his nerves on edge, the last thing Vaughn needs is for an innocent to get caught in the crosshairs. But the woman he remembers as an awkward girl refuses to leave his side until he’s heard her out. That’s not the only change in her that calls to him. Her kindness soothes his battle-scarred soul—and he craves her in ways a warrior shouldn’t.
When they are both captured, they learn of an even greater threat. The plague devastating the southlands has come to his clan home. And his best—and only—chance to keep his people alive is the female who walks among the dead.
This book contains one fierce hero with a nose for danger, one stubborn heroine who smells like trouble, and one wolfish spirit who makes most relationships with the in-laws seem downright tame. Fur, fangs and some biting should be expected. But never fear, the hero has a sword, and he knows how to use it.
The first book in this series, A Hint of Frost, was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I was super pleased to learn that the next book would be out just in time for my Christmas travels. I'm always nervous about second books in a series- will they live up to the first one? Will they be exactly the same as the first one and not in a good way? This one was a good follow up that kept me hooked on the series.
We met Vaughn and Mana in the first book and both characters took a significant backseat to the main couple. Enough ground was laid to show that these two were going to be the stars in book 2, but I was okay with not really getting to know either one until it was their moment in the sun, so to speak.
Vaughn was kind of a dick in book one- we know he and Rhys had serious problems that stemmed from their parentage (same mother, Vaughn is legitimate, Rhys isn't- someone call Maury) but we didn't really get to see things from Vaughn's point of view until now. What that means is that Vaughn has had a pretty twisted upbringing and has been immersed in politics since he was very young, and has seen the consequences to letting people get close to you, for better or worse. He's been groomed to succeed his mother as clan leader and has no issues with that- he's a mercenary through and through.
Enter Mana, who is pretty much the opposite in every respect. Her upbringing was unique and forever changed by the interactions between her clan and Vaughn's, and she's able to see how longstanding animosity and unresolved issues can cause just as many problems as not letting people get close to you ever. Her clan also believes in fated soulmates and so she's bound and determined to resist Vaughn's appeal because she thinks he's not meant to be hers and that getting involved with him would be tantamount to cheating on her future husband. This is a romance so I don't think it's a spoiler to say she's wrong. I'll get to that in a second though.
Anyway, a horrible plague is spreading across the land and it soon becomes apparent that religiously based practices honored by Mana's clan might actually be the only way to treat the disease. There's a hint of debate about religion versus science but it's resolved nicely for the purposes of the story; the twisty turny bits come from dealing with Vaughn's mother, Isolde, and the choices she made while out of her mind with fever that also negatively impacted the whole clan. It's hard to say more without giving stuff away but I will say that it was highly interesting for me and kept me turning pages.
My issues with the book are few and far between but most of them are things that have bothered me with other paranormal-esque or fantasy books. For one, I didn't really buy that Mana was so blind to the true nature of her feelings for Vaughn. It seemed self-indulgent on her part and kind of made her come off as sort of enjoying being a martyr in the name of unrequited love when the answer was staring everyone else in the face, screaming and jumping up and down for acknowledgement. She tells us herself that people with her powers can't see things related to themselves or their loved ones, and it seemed odd that she conveniently forgot that whenever Vaughn was around.
Then there were the issues surrounding Vaughn's father, who is back in spirit form in this book and hanging out in the body of a wolf. Vaughn's dad was not a nice guy, and even if you buy into the fact that he did the things he did because weakness would have gotten him killed among his mercenary clan, he's still not a nice guy. His motives were hard to discern, and he's the star of an upcoming novella in this series that's due out in February (review forthcoming.) I don't know how I feel about that. We'll see I guess.
I guess my final verdict on this book would be that it was very good, very enjoyable, but was just narrowly edged out by the first book in the series. I still highly recommend both and recommend that they be read in order. I'm looking forward to reading future installments in this series.
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