A Midwinter Fantasy
is a mixed bag of short stories from the fantasy romance genre with a Christmas theme. Here's a look at the novellas included:
"A Christmas Carroll
" - This story serves as wrap-up for the Percy Parker series by Leanna Renee Hieber. And I understand fans of the series loved it. Speaking as someone who has never read these books, the story wasn't so great. Obviously the world-building in this series is pretty complicated and while the bare bones are laid out here, it was painfully apparent how much I had missed.
Basically, the novella is set up in the framework of the Dickens story of the same name. But here, the spirits are trying to teach the heartbroken Rebecca that she has had true love at her fingertips for 20 years. In a series of flashbacks, she learns how much Michael has always loved her and that all she needs to do is reach out to him to find happiness. This is all set up in the context of a world of ghosts and a secret Guardian society set in Victorian London. The story was ok. But I had the unmistakable feeling I was reading the last chapter of an unfamiliar book.
"The Worth of a Sylph
" - This was the story I read the book for --as I am a big fan of LJ McDonald's Sylph series. I was a little confused when I first heard that this was a love story for Mace. After all, he bonded with Lily back in The Battle Sylph. But a whopping 19 years have now passed since the events of that book. And Lily is an old woman. She knows that she doesn't have much time left, so she encourages Mace to find a new master... a woman he can love.
Meanwhile, Jayden, one of Lily's orphan children has run away and she asks Mace to find him. On his journey, he reconnects with Sally, a woman who he shared a tumble with in the first book. They instantly reconnect and it's quickly apparent that she will be the woman who has his heart. The people in her village have ostracized her for her affair with Mace and their cruelty extended to her son... who seems to be traveling with the bandits who have Jayden. Now Mace is on a mission to save both boys, while he hopes for a future with the woman who could finally be his soul mate.
Be aware that this story is a peek into the future. The series jumps back 13 years for the next full length book, Queen of the Sylphs.
"The Crystal Crib
" - Sonja has traveled to Iceland to broker a business deal for her aunt. But when she arrives in Vidar's office, instead of her aunt, he is shocked to see her. It turns out that Vidar has been the guardian angel tied to Sonja's soul her whole life. He saved her life as a baby and has been linked to her ever since. But with her return to Iceland, she is drawn back in the feud between her father and Vidar's. At first she seems to be just a pawn, but it's slowly revealed that she is much more.
The connection between Sonja and Vidar is sweet and sexy. The story is set on the backdrop of Norse mythology, which is fun and a little off the beaten path. Nothing too deep, but entertaining.
As a fan of the Sylph series, obviously the McDonald selection was my favorite. Taylor's wasn't bad. But I think Hieber's story may be a miss for readers unfamiliar with the previous books. Almost 4 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley