Saturday, October 25, 2014

Double Review: Winter's Kisses and A Scarlet Fury by Bridget Blackwood

I went on a little Blackwood Binge reading and so I have not just one, but two reviews for this post.  Winter's Kisses is more a short story than anything, but it has an important place in the series and contains a whole lot of goodness.  

Title: Winter's Kiss
Author: Bridget Blackwood
Released: March 2014
Amazon ~ Goodreads

Varian Caina believed his chance at love and happiness died with Winter, but what if Winter isn't dead? Why allow everyone to grieve? Winter has assassins after her, sent by the Seelie Queen Tanith and faces a new enemy in the Unseelie King Corrigan. Can Varian turn his back on Winter or will he embrace his second chance? A short story in the World in Shadows series between books one and two.

My Review: 

It's a very very good thing that it is noted that this is NOT Varian and Winter's full story, because if it was, there is no end to the harassment you'd get from me, Bridget Blackwood, No end. (Okay well, since orange isn't my color, there likely is an end to it, but you get what I'm saying, yes?!) 

Though just a short story to show the current status of Winter and Varian, Winter's Kiss answers a lot of questions and also leaves open a lot of future possibilities. 

I found Varian to be an interesting character in Rising Shadows, its hard to take him seriously sometimes, between his innate crazy and seemingly bi-polar attitudes. But it's pretty plain to see there is a hidden depth to the Vampire, I can't wait to see that depth explored further in his full story. 

Winter, well, you can't help but feel for Winter and want to give her a big ol hug. Her life hasn't been easy, and though I'm sure we haven't heard all of it, what little we do know just kind of sucks. But I love that she's such a strong female character and doesn't let any of it pull her down or hold her back. She stands firm and does what she needs to. 

Though it is not long Winter's Kiss is still full of action, humor and Hello Hotness! It is a great little scene to slip into the series between books leaving open a range of places Winter and Varian's story can lead to. I can't wait for the rest of their story.

Title: A Scarlet Fury
Author: Bridget Blackwood
Released: August 2014
Links: Amazon ~ Goodreads 

It has been almost a year since mankind became aware of the world in shadows. It's been an adjustment, but life goes on and most have learned to adapt. There are some on both side that are not ready to let go of their plans. Madalaina Bonvillian believed nothing could harm her; she's the daughter of the former alpha and the sister of the current alpha, who would dare? After surviving a brutal attack, Madalaina must try to move forward, but where do you go when you feel like you've lost yourself? Cleary Neil has kept his feeling for Madalaina to himself. He's been her friend, and now that's what she needs more than anything. The only problem is he can't shut off the part of himself that wants to protect his mate from the pain and confusion he sees in her.

 Together they will go on an emotional journey to find out if love can heal all wounds. Time is of the essence, because enemies are gathering

My Review: 

A Scarlet Fury takes on a more somber tone than previous books in the series, while also dealing with more difficult subject matters.  The inclusion of such different circumstances shows the ability of the author to adapt to any and all circumstances within their writing.  The deviance from the usual subjects to harsher ones, is sometimes harder to transition to and Blackwood does it with ease in this story.  The storyline matter is not  simple or easy or even remotely fun, but the events make for story with a larger emotional impact. 

There is deep reflection in Madalaina's personality throughout the story. This trauma happened to her and she was pretty much thrown for a loop because she had never ever anticipated that anyone would dare do wrong to her because of who she was. And it is almost exactly for that reason she was hurt in such a way.  While coping with the trauma, Madalaina learns things about herself, little changes in her personality, nothing to outrageous, but enough that she finds herself surprised and realizing that she had lost herself along the way, even before this incident had even happened. 

Blackwood handles the grievous events and following trauma with both  caution and grace. Madalaina struggles with many feelings and trying to assimilate those emotions and come to some form of acceptance.  It is even more difficult for her to handle the fact that nearly everyone in her life, whom she loves, knows exactly what happened to her and that she was unable to prevent or stop it.  Like most victims of any kind of trauma, Madalaina places a large amount of blame and guilt on herself. 

Cleary is AWESOME.  No, I don't say that lightly.  He's such a wreck throughout the first parts of the book, justifiably so, but even still, he makes your heart hurt, because he wants to help so much, but you can see he feels at a loss of being capable of doing it the right way.  So he does things he can in little ways, sometimes nearly making a fool out of himself or bringing danger down on himself (Hello Claude!).  Being Madalaina's friend prior to these events gives him a unique perspective with which to show her that she's not the dirty underserving weakling she sees herself as.  

Cleary battles the instincts in him that scream "This woman is my mate" and all that entails and the deep seated knowledge that one wrong move can have devastating effects where Madalaina is concerned and send her running.  I think he handles it all with just the right amount of care and concern while also enforcing to Madalaina that he's not going anywhere and he doesn't view her as different, at least not in the way she thinks. 

Sassy is awesome. I want a Sassy. She's a great addition to the story because she adds another push for Madalaina to go to Cleary. 

I love the glimpses into the friendships between Madalaina and Winter, and Tsura, and Cleary.  They all have their own unique bonds and I love how it is shown how they each do their part in pulling Madalaina back together.  This is true friendship, this is what friends do for each other. 

Dr. Livingston was crucial to helping Madalaina come to terms and begin to heal and rebuild.  She instigated the starting place for Madalaina and then helped her build up from there.  The women from group, also play a major role in her healing. Some clever twists there, very turning the tables in some ways too.  

A Scarlet Fury takes you on an emotional ride about tragedy, forgiveness of yourself and others, and also about understanding and finding who you are truly meant to be. It is a beautiful story of life's struggles and coming through on the other side. It is the story of Family and why we need each other though sometimes we want to kill each other.    While the front running story is Madalaina and Cleary's, there are so many smaller stories told in the process and I'm certain they hold importance to the series. 

There are many bumps in the road for Madalaina and Cleary as they both delve deep into the waters of this traumatic experience, but each small step taken proves the inner strength and dedication they carry. Though the tone is more serious and solemn, there are bits of humor and lightness mixed within.  

You know how you get a homemade gift from someone and you can just feel their blood, sweat and tears went into its making.  That is exactly how I feel about this book.  This story is hands down my favorite of the series so far.  

It's going to be a long long wait for the next book in the series...

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