Monday, December 12, 2011

Book review: North of Need (Hearts of the Anemoi, book 1) by Laura Kaye

Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (November 1, 2011)

Book blurb: While attempting to escape the agonizing memories she associates with Christmas, twenty-nine-year-old widow Megan Snow builds a snow family outside the mountain cabin she once shared with her husband and collapses in tears against the snowman at the sight of what she'll never have.

Called to life by the power of Megan's tears, snow god Owen Winters appears unconscious on her doorstep in the midst of a raging blizzard. As she nurses him to health, Owen finds unexpected solace in her company and unimagined pleasure in the warmth of her body, and vows to win her heart for a chance at humanity.

Megan is drawn to Owen's mismatched eyes, otherworldly masculinity, and enthusiasm for the littlest things, and her heart opens enough to believe he's a Christmas miracle. But this miracle comes with an expiration before the snow melts and the temperature rises, Megan must let go of her widow's grief and learn to trust love again, or she'll lose Owen forever.

Our review: This is the best time of year to read a snow-oriented story like North of Need. As I decorated using my snow people decorations, I found myself reflecting back to Megan's story. Imagine losing your husband while still in that special 'honeymoon' period, then imagine blaming yourself for his accident while having to live day by day with it. Horrible, huh? This is Megan's plight.

Such incredible sadness could have hampered the story but it didn't. Author Laura Kaye infused Megan's story with warmth, honesty, and lots of feelings and emotions. She is a character lost in the past of what she had: a husband, unconditional love, a home and the prospect of a family. What she winds up with are the memories. And the guilt. When she builds a snow family outside the cabin she shared with her husband, John Snow, her overwhelming sorrow and tears summons the very thing Megan needs--a way to let go of the past and live again which comes in the form of Owen.

What I really enjoyed about North of Need was the creatively unique concept of seasonal gods. Owen is a god of winter, one of the Anemoi, and he's never been with a mortal woman before. I'm glad he wasn't portrayed as some type of badass, instead his scenes with Megan showcased his unfamiliarity with the human world while still conveying his innocence (the ice cream scenes were fun to read). Megan was a sympathetic character and I couldn't wait for her to find some degree of happiness.

While there were times I kept waiting for something more to happen, this was not an action-packed novel, it was a love story. The conflict is internal as an incredible woman and snow god seek their ways through their individual pasts to grasp a future together. Forgiveness, redemption, acceptance, understanding, North of Need has so much going on underneath its wintry surface. Megan and Owen's falling in love was portrayed as something sweet, tender and romantic.

If you're looking for a light entertaining sexy story featuring some very cool mythology, North of Need is the read for you. This is one new series to add to your 'have to read' lists. I know I have.

Rating: Liked it.

Favorite excerpt: "His intense gaze brushed over her face like a caress, raising the hair on her arms. The candlelight played games with his eye color.
     She couldn’t quite make it out. But she didn’t need more than the candlelight to admire Owen’s rugged handsomeness. Her eyes couldn’t decide whether to focus on his thick shoulders or smooth, square jaw. Her fingers nearly twitched to learn if his hair was as soft as it looked. She gripped her plate. She was lonely, just lonely. That’s all this was.
     “Now, you eat.”
     “I’m eating.” She made a show of picking up her fork and taking a bite of salad.
     “Good.” Under his intense observation, her face flamed hot. “You’re watching me.”
     His eyes fixed on her mouth. “Mmhmm. You’re nice to look at.”
     She shook her head and took another bite. All of a sudden, the candles made the dinner feel intimate, charged with some unnamed energy. It took concerted effort to stay on that stool, to not flee from his straightforward compliments, from her enjoyment of them."

Cover comment: Whoa, that cover is striking! I like the fonts, the downcast Owen, the cabin in the background, and the swirling snow.

Book source: From publisher for my honest review during a book tour.

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