Review: The Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth Vail

September 16, 2014 Review 0

Review: The Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth Vail

Frederick Snow, first footman, is the perfect servant: efficient, hardworking, and completely bereft of emotion. Unbeknownst to his employers, he’s the lost Duke of Snowmont, on the run from a suspicious stepfather and a powerful magic he can only control by burying his passions beneath his frosty demeanor. He's managed to hide behind his carefully ordered life until an impertinent miss arrives and challenges everything he thought he wanted.

If Charlotte Erlwood wants to land a wealthy, titled husband at her great aunt’s house party, she has to stop losing her temper – especially with inordinately handsome footmen. Perhaps if she recruits Frederick for her matrimonial schemes, she'll be able to direct her attention toward suitable single noblemen and away from inappropriate dalliances. But Frederick’s frigid control is no match for Charlotte’s irrepressible spirit, and her passionate kiss could summon the darker side of his magic...or wake his heart from its frozen sleep.

Title: The Duke of Snow and Apples
Author: Elizabeth Vail
Published by Entangled Publishing
Source: Publisher
Published: August 26, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Romace
Pages: 250
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Visit the Author's Website

Stars: three-half-stars
Flames: one-flame

When I chose to read this story I was thinking historical romance novel, and in many ways it was.  The pomp, the circumstance, the fantastic gowns, the snobbish aristocracy, the grandeur of the estates, the star crosses lovers, all my favorite things in a historical romance.   Then I read the location and date of this novel at the beginning of the first chapter: “Charmant Park, Allmach – 20th day of the Month of Soil, Year 556 After the Fey.”   Alrighty then, there is more here than your basic historical romance.  We have Fey.

There wasn’t any real fey in this story but, diluted descendants from fey/human alliances from years ago.  But there was definitely magic.  Mail carrying sylphs, salamanders for heat, air rifles for hunting gnomes, various potions and spells for all manner of everyday use, including beauty glamour.  It was a very interesting mix of fantasy and historical romance.

For the most part I enjoyed this world and all the characters in it.  However, I thought that the author went on tangents that didn’t go anywhere and/or left us hanging.  For instance, there were a few reverences to a “blight swallowing the Selecian Islands.”  Although an interesting tidbit, and did have baring on one of the secondary characters – Lamonte, a ladies maid to Charlotte, the heroine, and her grandaunt Hildy – it was kind of left hanging.  I thought of it as a red herring, a mis-direction for the plot, and/or a dangling tread.  It left me scratching my head and wondering . . .

There was an entire secondary character like this as well.  Dorothea, the Seventh Dowager.  Unlike every other character, she didn’t have a title and wasn’t even called Lady.  Why?  If she was a dowager, shouldn’t she have been called Lady something?  She was also bit stranger than the rest, dressed all in black with a flock of crows.  Ultimately, the crows did kind of save the day, so there was a purpose for this character, but she was left shrouded in mystery.  Exactly who was she?

I liked the hero – Freddy.  He entered the story as first footman of the household.  A noble profession that he did well, if rather too “stiff upper lip” for most.  I mean, it was noted that this guy never so much as smiled.  Then, we find out why.

Do you remember in Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the scene where a page is announcing the upcoming ball for the Prince?  He is reading the Prince’s name and it goes on for about half a page?  That is what came to mind when Freddy’s real name was revealed.  Frederick Adam Phineas Calvin Cleighmore, Fifth Duke of Snowmont, Marquess of Pilsby, Earl of Lowton.”    Whew!  Now that is a mouth full. Charlotte kind of upheld that feeling:

A duke. Frederick is a duke. The words had wound through Charlotte’s head, a ceaseless monotone chant, since the moment that cursed ring had declared that beneath the powdered wig and subservient pose lurked a man with the purest blood in Allmarch, this side of the royal family. A duke, a duke, Frederick Adam Phineas Calvin Cleighmore. Duke of Snowmont.

It had sung in her head, like one of the Fey’s lost song-spells . . .”

It was kind of fun and rather entertaining.

The drama in this story was well played.  The slow build up to a wonderfully climatic ending.  Although there were the dangling threads that I mentioned, this was an interesting story that held my interest and kept me turning the page far into the night.  I would have liked the dangling threads tied up, but I found the ending very satisfying otherwise.  It was well worth the journey to get there.


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