It’s still winter in Minnesota and will be for some time yet, as much as we all may wish otherwise. While many of us in the Twin Cities got a good dose of snow this past week, some of the city plows are a little too efficient, and I, personally, didn’t get to spend any time being snowed into my house. If I had, though, here are six books I might have read while curled up by the fireplace, with my dog sleeping on my feet.
1. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
This YA fantasy novel, released in 2017, should be catnip to a lot of Twin Cities Geek readers, as it is based on an interweaving of the stories of “The Erlkönig” in German folklore and the 1986 movie Labyrinth. Yes, that Labyrinth. The book wouldn’t be complete without a slender, silver-haired Goblin King with heterochromic eyes. (Yes, I’m aware that David Bowie’s eyes weren’t technically two different colors, but close enough.) It’s also set in the early 1800s and includes a lot of details about classical music history that impressed me with their accuracy. As a bonus, the (much darker) sequel, Shadowsong, is out on February 6, 2018.
2. Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
For a much colder fairy-tale adaptation, try this retelling of “The Snow Queen” set in a fictional Asian country called Sirapirat in a science-fantasy realm forever changed by the Snow Queen’s conquest. Nuawa, our main character, fights in semi-virtual-reality battles for a living, and she takes part in a fight-to-the-death tournament. The battles aren’t the primary focus, although they are important, so much as the political machinations that are going on around Nuawa and Lussadh, the Snow Queen’s general. With lush language, finely detailed characters, and a lot of commentary about colonization, this novella has a satisfying but chilling ending.
3. Ice by Lyn Gardner
If your tastes run more toward the “stranded in a Canadian shack during a snowstorm” thriller bent than fairy tales, this novel delivers up a whole bunch of tasty tropes that readers will love. Maggie Campbell and Alexandra Blake are both detective inspectors with the Metropolitan Police Service in London, but they haven’t worked together in three years because they simply can’t get along. Until, of course, they have to work together on a case of great importance, and then it becomes a life-or-death situation. Will they survive the storm of the century? What’s really underlying the tension between the two women? And what about Alex’s pregnant Yorkie, Sandy, back in London with her roommate?
(Spoiler: you know what’s underlying the tension, and Sandy ends up fine.)
4. Kinky Geeks: Dungeon Master by A. J. Ryder
For something shorter and hotter, try A. J. Ryder’s Minnesota-set erotic romances. Although Dungeon Master is the second in a series, it stands alone other than a little bit of information in the introduction about the characters from the first volume. Following our winter theme, the second of the three short stories that make up the novella features our heroine, Jillian, and her DM-turned-lover, Eddie, snowed into Jillian’s apartment. The story features extra-nerdy details about their Dungeons & Dragons group and Jillian’s job as an author, in between BDSM-flavored sex.
5. “Nine Lights over Edinburgh” by Harper Fox and “Icecapade” by Josh Lanyon, in His for the Holidays
It’s difficult to find snowy stories that aren’t explicitly holiday romances. His for the Holidays is a Carina Press anthology containing four male/male romances obviously set in and around Christmas, but two of them—the second and the fourth in the book—are not quite as Christmas-y as the others, so if you’re holidayed out, stick to “Nine Lights over Edinburgh” (featuring an Edinburgh DI and an Israeli security expert) and “Icecapade” (featuring a diamond thief and the FBI special agent who’s been pursuing him for more than a decade). The former is a little more hard-boiled, including procedural details and a plot point that revolves around the kidnapping of a child, but it ends happily. The latter will appeal to fans of White Collar but is ultimately winter fluff.
6. Status Update by Annabeth Albert
Need another geeky gay romance? Of course you do. Adrian Gottlieb and his sort-of boyfriend, Trent, are trying to RV from Adrian’s home of Santa Monica to visit his parents in Denver for Thanksgiving and his sister’s wedding, but not everything turns out as planned, and he ends up stranded in an RV park partway there. The owner of the RV in the next spot over is hot older college professor Noah Walters, and after some convincing, he offers to drive Adrian to Denver. Except, of course, they get caught in a snowstorm and end up having to spend several days snowed in together. The catch? Sure, Noah’s gay, but he’s also deeply closeted, because he teaches at one of the most conservative universities in Texas. Sparks fly, but are they enough to keep them warm after they dig themselves out? And will Noah’s big mutt Ulysses and Adrian’s tiny designer dog, Pixel, learn to get along?
(Spoiler: they do.)
This is another entry in Annabeth Albert’s #gaymers series; Adrian works for the same game company as Josiah, the lead from Connection Error, mentioned in my first Geek Romance roundup.
What about you, readers? Have any hot reads for the cold weather?