Monday, July 27, 2015

#Review - Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking (Young Adult Paranormal)

Series: Kanin Chronicles # 2
Format: Paperback, 309 pages
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

In the majestic halls of a crystal palace lies a secret that could destroy an entire kingdom…

Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…and the glittering palace of the Skojare.

The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal enemy that’s been threatening the Kanin, and Bryn is there to help. Being half Skojare herself, it’s also a chance for her to learn more about her lost heritage. Her boss, Ridley Dresden, is overseeing her mission, but as their undeniable attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level—one neither of them is prepared for.

As they delve deeper into the Skojare world, they begin to unravel a long-hidden secret. The dark truth about her own beloved Kanin kingdom is about to come to light, and it will change her place in it forever…and threaten everyone she loves.


Fresh snowflakes stung my face, so I closed my eyes and lowered my head and urged Bloom to run faster. For being one of the largest Tralla horses in Doldastam, Bloom was surprisingly quick, and his heavy hooves plowed through the snow as he raced beside the stone walls that surrounded the town.
My head had begun throbbing again—a dull pain that radiated out from the gash just under my hairline along my right temple, held together with six stitches. I tried to ignore it, the same way I had any time the pain had flared up over the last two days, and gripped Bloom’s reins tighter.
Late last night, Ridley Dresden and I had arrived back home from our job in the Skojare capital of Storvatten. Though we’d been released from our duties since the mission was de- clared complete, I would hardly call it over. Konstantin Black had escaped, and the Queen we’d gone to find was still unac- counted for.
All the royals were resigned to the fact that Queen Linnea Biâelse was probably dead, most likely killed before Ridley and I had even arrived in Storvatten, so none of them held her persistent absence against us. In fact, the missing Queen’s brother-in-law, Prince Kennet Biâelse, had seen us out, and he seemed concerned that we didn’t judge ourselves too harshly.
In the majestic hall of the Storvatten palace, with its frosty glass walls shaped to look like waves encircling us, Kennet had stood with Ridley and me by the door.
“I’m very sorry we weren’t able to do more,” I apologized once more before we departed.
“You did all you could.” Kennet stared down at me, his aquamarine eyes sparkling like jewels, and sighed heavily, making the nearly translucent gills just below his jaw flutter.
Then he took one of my hands, holding it warmly in both of his. While I was surprised by the heat and strength of his large hands encircling mine, I felt too numb to really register it. The failure of the mission left me distraught and defeated, and after the previous night’s attack my head was still in a painful fog. “Don’t be too hard on yourself, Bryn,” Kennet said in a voice like rolling thunder. “You’re better than you give yourself credit for.”
“We should get going,” Ridley interjected, “if we want to make it back to Doldastam by nightfall.”
“Yes, of course.” Kennet smiled wanly and seemed reluctant to let my hand go. I tried to smile back at him, but I couldn’t muster it in my current state.
Ridley had the front door open for me. As we stepped out of the palace of glass, Kennet called after us, “I hope to see you again. You’re both always welcome here.”
I said nothing in reply, because I had no intention of ever returning to Storvatten or to that palace. With no sign of Linnea or Konstantin, there would be no reason for me to ever come back.
When we’d left Storvatten, my memory of Konstantin Black’s escape from the prison was still a bit of a blur. My head injury made it difficult for me to think clearly or recall the incidents surrounding my skull being smashed into the stone wall of the dungeon.
Ridley had scoured Konstantin’s cell before we left Storvatten, hoping to find a few hairs or a bit of cloth that he could use to track him. But Konstantin was smart—long before he’d become a traitor to the Kanin, he’d been a tracker. He knew how our world worked, so he hadn’t left a trace of himself behind for Ridley to get a read on, making it impossible for us to know where he had gone.
On the long ride back home, Ridley drove, and I lay with my head pressed against the cold window of the SUV, trying to force my mind into clarity.
I told Ridley the truth about Konstantin’s escape—that I had gone down to the dungeon to reason with him and find out what happened to the missing Queen Linnea, and that Konstantin had already gotten out of his cell. I’d been overpowered, and he’d escaped. But I had left out one glaring detail—it wasn’t Konstantin who had smashed my head into the wall until I was unconscious.
That had been Viktor Dålig.
Fifteen years ago, Viktor had tried to overthrow the Kanin King Evert, and in the process, he’d killed Ridley’s father. Since that attempted coup, no one had seen or heard from him.
Then, out of the shadows, he’d appeared in the Storvatten dungeon to help Konstantin Black escape.
I knew I needed to tell Ridley, but I was terrified that my memory was playing tricks on me. The attack still felt jumbled and hazy. What if the head trauma made me recall Viktor’s face when he’d never been there?
But now as I rode Bloom through the falling snow, pushing him hard as though I could somehow escape the truth, I real- ized I was more afraid that my memories were right. That Viktor Dålig had been there, and I hadn’t stopped him. I’d let the two greatest enemies of our kingdom get away.

Ice Kissed is the second installment in the Kanin Chronicles, picking up right where Frostfire left off. Protagonist Bryn Aven finds herself at the center of a major conspiracy that has left her wondering how far deep it goes, and who she can trust. Skojare Queen Linnea is still missing, and presumed dead. Fugitives Konstantin Black and Viktor Dalig, who attacked Bryn and left her for dead in Frostfire, are still on the loose. The question still remains why Black seems so intent on protecting Bryn? What is he really up to?

Then Bryn gets a psychic message from Linnea which sends her and Ridley off on an attempt to find her and bring her back home where things are as twisted as you can possibly believe. Thanks to some assistance from her own mother, Bryn finds a mythical lake that draws her in like she’s been away from home far too long. Bryn and her new partner Kasper, return to Skojare to investigate why the Queen disappeared, and what else might be happening under the surface. Bryn is still determined to prove herself and become a member of the Hogdragen. But, there are way too many obstacles still to be uncovered before she can even think about what's going to happen next. 

For the romance enthusiasts among you, the so called forbidden romance between Bryn and Ridley has become more intense, and much more clearer. I dare say that the romance hit sizzling level for a brief point before jumping back into the mystery. One can only hope that it doesn’t blow up into a full length twisted triangle between Bryn, Ridley, and Konstantin. Ice Kissed is a story that you have to pay attention to the nuisances. There are so many lies, political machinations, and betrayals, it is a wonder that Bryn is still loyal to the kingdom that has treated her with scorn, and loathing. 

Ice Kissed ends on a cliffhanger with a great question for Bryn. "So, what do you say, white rabbit. Friends?" With that question in mind, one would suspect that not reading the final installment called Crystal Kingdom would be a bad idea. One should want to know if Bryn gets her greatest desire as a protector of the Kingdom, or if she finds herself. I do like the fact that Hocking hasn't revealed all her cards yet. I like that you can guess who is involved, but be proven wrong, or in one case, I choose correctly and was rewarded with heart break. So yeah, I'll be finishing this series come hell or high water.

**I received this book for free from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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