The Queen in Winter is an anthology of four stories revolving around the common denominators of fantasy and strong women who dominate the men in their lives and loves. I struggled through most of this book and probably would have given up at some point if not for my commitment to review it and for the third story that made the most sense in structure with a distinct beginning, middle and ending.
First up is A Whisper of Spring by award-winning romance novelist Lynn Kurland. An Elvin woman and a mortal King cross barriers of both their kingdoms to try to find the love they hide deep in their hearts for one another.
The second story is When Winter Comes by national bestselling fantasy author Sharon Shinn. This is a tale of hope and courage as two sisters make a dangerous trek to find a haven for themselves and the infant born to the weaker of the sisters. Those who believe all mystics must be eliminated, are hunting the babe, who was fathered by a mystic. In the course of their journey, they are helped several times by a ser from a powerful family with whom the stronger sister finds the gift of love.
The third and my vote for best of the four tales is The Kiss of the Snow Queen by one of my favorite romance authors Claire Delacroix. This story, unlike the first two held my attention from start to finish. A gifted seer looks upon her enchanted mirror only to bear witness to the man coming to rescue her being attacked by a feared monster who casts a spell upon the brave young warrior with magic ice/glass shards. Assisted in her quest by a fallen angel named Loki to aid her destined true love, the seer is none too keen on having this being in her company. Lokiís uproarious antics included his modern mannerisms, speech pattern, and his pursuit of taking this maidenís virtue.
The last was A Gift of Wings by newcomer Sarah Monette. A switch on the usual hero/heroine roles this story has a warrior woman molded in an almost modern GI Jane prototype who must accompany her former lover home. Badly scarred, inside, and outside, he is still all the man she has ever wanted and fights her toughest battle yet to convince him of such.
The Queen in Winter is fraught with difficult to pronounce fictitious words that make the stories even harder to concentrate on. My take, is to spend the reading time on these authorsí complete novels and not waste it on this.