Hope dangles by a silken thread.
When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.
Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.
Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.
Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.
Alisha: I’m all about the fantasy books, romance-based or not. There is a certain level of imagination that seems unbound in fantasy novels (as in science fiction). A Hint of Frost does not disappoint, with its complex world of differing races and clans. You’re not a usual reader of fantasy, Stella. Was it pretty accessible?
Stella: Oh Alisha, as you say not only I am not used to the fantasy genre: this was the very first fantasy novel I’ve read! And I don’t know why I waited so long and dreaded discovering this genre because it was fantastic! Hailey Edwards’ storytelling enchanted me completely and now I see how fantasy stories are part fairy tale/part dystopian/part historical fiction.
Alisha: I must admit, I think the book could have used a map and/or glossary. As it stood, the beginning was a bit disorienting with sudden mentions of paladins and mavens and spinnerets and partisans. Of course, these things were clarified later on, but in the beginning it was tough for me to grasp the context and gravity of certain elements in the plot. And since the opening set of scenes was extremely hectic, I personally like to have something to ground me in the rules and visuals of the world from the start.
Stella: It’s funny that you the fantasy-fan felt a bit lost with all the new details of this world while I the newbie (maybe because of my concern/prejudice of being lost) made extra attention and didn’t feel confused with how the societal structure of the Araneae Nation was set up. (Though a glossary would have been neat, I always like to read extra information about the world-building and characters).
Alisha: Overall, I found this to be a neat world! Different, for sure. The notion of clans who were more like different species, with different powers and lands that looked like different worlds altogether…intriguing! And the dynamics between these clans, the way their strengths and weaknesses complement others…very intriguing. The story, after its first chapters, was allowed room to breathe a bit, I thought.
Stella: Once again I find it interesting how differently we perceived and enjoyed the story. I personally preferred the beginning, the first third or maybe half before Lourdes and Rhyan left on their journey and my enthusiasm went down a notch once they left the nest. But I completely agree when it comes to the incredibly creative and unique world and universe Hailey Edwards has created! Because dear readers the Araneae Nation is made of different nations of spider “shifters”, no they do not shift but they have some of their namesakes’ characteristics, Lourdes is able to weave a thread so fine and yet much more resistant and strong than metal, some of the other tribes are venomous, have fangs and all are named after a spider species!
Alisha: My biggest hurdle was perhaps the language. I didn’t immediately fall into the cadence of the narrative. There were sentences and paragraphs that I swear I had to read like five times to understand, due to the style of phrasing. Also, on occasion I was halted by some turn of phrase that just seemed out-of-place in a fantasy setting (ex. “I don’t believe in playing musical bedmates”).
Stella: Lol, once again my reaction was the complete opposite :-D Maybe I fell in line with the archaic language because I am used to reading historical romances, but I think it was mostly the language than grounded me. It gave me that sense of security that it was something I understood and felt familiar with. Though as a very rookie fantasy fan I can’t give an opinion on how it’s un/usual to other fantasy novels or the genre itself.
Alisha: That is wild, Stella. ^_^ But whatever the language use, I loved the characters, whose authenticity came through easily. I really enjoyed the portrayal of the heroine’s growth, and her attempts to assert herself and prove her strength.
Stella: I agree! Lourdes was a delightful heroine. She was strong willed and independent all the while retaining her feminine youthful side. Her vulnerability underneath her strength and steel (she had lost both her parents recently and had to be her siblings’ strength and support and her grief) made me like her and respect her even more. However I wasn’t very fond of her sister… I found her childish, immature and so selfish :-/ There were so many great and entertaining secondary characters, I really liked Lourdes and Rhys’ siblings and how their relationships got such an important part in the story
Alisha: Did I see the word “Rhys”? Ah, talk about a sexy, tortured hero. ^_^ I think I really started to like him when he started to show little signs of tenderness, like taking off his shirt (already a plus) and using it as a handkerchief to clean Lourdes’s face. He doesn’t have to go through some major change; rather, we learn more about his amazing nature in bits and pieces. I liked that slow piecing together of his character.
Stella: Aww Rhys *dreamy sighing ensues* He was wonderful. So intense, so tortured and yet gentle hearted and noble. (and yep taking his shirt always helped lol) I confess I liked him right from the start: I mean a man who accepts his duty to his clan and family and weds an orphaned young woman to help her stabilize her “kingdom” and rebuild her city’s and family’s protection without any objection showed me he would be an honourable man, and oh he was! Especially when his concern stemmed from affection and love for Lourdes:
His grip tightened. “You are safe in my keeping.” His eyes glinted with all the facets of an emerald. “No harm will come to you.” He kissed me, a brush of lips that left his breath ragged and me wanting. “I won’t allow it.”
“I know.” I doubted the gods themselves could defy his iron will.
So yes Rhys was a delight, the ideal hero, his intense devotion to Lourdes as the woman in his care, the one he swore to protect and defend even with his own life made my heart flutter:
He drew my hand to his side of the door and kissed my ring finger. “I have thanked the two gods for their grace since the moment the Theridiidae chased you into my arms, when your skin held a hint of frost and your courage thawed some frozen thing in my chest for which I had no name. Your love is worth a price above rubies. I want to own your heart as you own mine.”
Alisha: I thought Lourdes and Rhys complemented each other well from the beginning. Even as it seemed like there was nothing they had in common. There was one situation in the middle of the book that frustrated me to no end–what I like to call misunderstanDammits!, in which there’s a misunderstanding that’s prolonged yet so easily solved–but otherwise, they were a sweet couple that had a lot of romantic tension.
I must admit though, that I was most intrigued by Vaughn. He has got this seemingly endless amount of anger and resentment, laced with a sweet thread of compassion. He’s also a great source of humor, when paired with Rhys. My favorite quote:
Vaughn stifled a yawn. “Is there a point to this bedtime story?”
Rhys picked the fork from Vaughn’s plate and drove it into his brother’s thigh. “There. I’ve made four points for him.” He yanked it free. “Show him respect or I’ll make four more.”
Vaughn spoke through clenched teeth. “A warning would have sufficed.”
Stella: Lol, that scene was one of my favourites as well, though I also love this line that took place after the above scene between Vaughn and Lourdes:
“Is he all right?”
“I don’t know.” He ripped his pant leg open and inspected his thigh. His altruistic acts must be limited to one per solar cycle.
“You don’t care?”
“Should I?” He poked the four tine marks.
Sums up Vaugn so well :-D And yes, he was a very unique and interesting character. I loved how complex Hailey Edwards made him: at first he was an almost villain with his constant mean jabs to Rhys, then we got a deeper understanding of his bitter and sarcastic character. And yes, it was surprising to see that under all the meanness he was really loyal and devoted. And his lines surely brightened up the story.
Alisha: I’m definitely looking forward to the next book (especially if it features Vaughn, lol). Only the romance was really resolved; beyond that, there were some major plot developments that were clearly meant to be further developed in a later installment.
Stella: Yes, there were a lot of loose ends (I for one want to know why Rhys eats anise seeds, we never did get an explanation, right?) when A Hint of Frost came to an end, so I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next in the series!
Alisha: I would certainly recommend A Hint of Frost to romance fans, both those who are used to the fantasy genre and those who aren’t. Edwards has created the beginnings of a beautiful, lush, complex world. The characters were similarly magnetic and accessible. I did take a bit longer to get into the swing of the plot, and some of the narrative style tripped me up at times, but objectively this is a solid series opener. I look forward to a revisit!
I give A Hint of Frost 4 stars!
Stella: If I had known fantasy novels were this wonderful I would have become a fan of the genre a long time ago! I don’t know why I feared it, thanks to Hailey Edwards lush storytelling I was introduced to an extraordinary world with very different societal customs and hierarchy and yet I never lost my footing. The world-building was memorable and very creative, and although the characterisations were well developed and Lourdes and Rhys’ love was sweet and tender I would have loved to witness a bit more of their romance. (And maybe it’s my preconception but when I saw it was a Samhain release I was expecting a lot of steaminess and A Hint of Frost is rather tame and sweet, just saying so you won’t get disappointed.) A delightful first novel in a highly imaginative new series, Hailey Edwards is an author to watch!
I give A Hint of Frost 4 stars!
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