Year Published: 2015 - by St. Martin's Press.
Genre: Young adult / urban fantasy / romance
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Frostfire. Since it ended with a lot of unanswered questions, I was eager to know what happened and looked forward to the second book.
But unfortunately, Ice Kissed just felt like a halfhearted filler to get the characters where they needed to be for the final book.
I was so disappointed.
The story is marginally fun, and it easily sweeps you along. It's relaxing, easy-to-read, and I loved the ice/snow aspects - I'm such a sucker for snow scenes; they're fascinating and leave so much potential for tantalising writing.
I loved the setting and atmosphere. The world building is also very strong.
The writing isn't brilliant. The sentences are too long, there's a lot more telling than showing, and there's explanation after explanation; "because" is used too often, and it's just plain patronising. I have a brain and imagination, and I don't need to have everything explained to me when it's actually glaringly obvious in the scene.
It's very boring. As I said further up, this instalment just felt like it was there to get the characters in place for the next book. Not much happened, although I was relieved to have a lot of the main questions answered; the mystery part of the series that had gone unexplained and unresolved in Frostfire, is explained in this book.
The secondary characters easily blur into the background with weak personalities. Bryn is still a terrific heroine, Ridley's still swoony, I loved Linnea and Ember, but characters like Kasper and Kennet are extremely dull. No one left a great impression on me.
The romance goes downhill. I ship Bryn and Ridley like crazy and I love them together, but in this book their relationship felt rushed, random, and pushed to the side. Ridley is such a strong character, but in Ice Kissed he's reduced to a rather dull, stereotypical hero. He's still lovable and I still want him and Bryn to get together, but his character development is skimped and dry and basically nonexistent. I feel like Hocking's shoved Ridley to the side so as to nudge Bryn and Konstantin together. And my shipper heart boils with rage and screams no.
Ridley's page time is also extremely minimal. I hated how he hardly features during the whole book, especially during the climatic ending. His character now feels like "just another love interest".
I don't like what Hocking's done to him.
Then there's the sex scene. Just to put it out there, I hate the way Hocking writes sex scenes: they're so cringy and awkward.
Anyway. Ridley and Bryn's sleeping together felt completely forced and out of character. Not to mention how Ridley has the disgusting audacity to add afterwards: "And there's Juni... She's not my girlfriend, but she deserves better than this."
Okay. This annoys the heck out of me because Bryn and Ridley slept together knowing it wouldn't mean anything and knowing that Ridley's with someone else ("not my girlfriend" my $&#@%; Ridley and Juni are definitely together, I'm sorry).
In the space of this scene, my opinion of both Bryn and Ridley dropped drastically. My darling characters deserve to be written better than this.
After enjoying the entertaining, romantic adventure that was Frostfire, I sadly found Ice Kissed dull, boring, and rushed. I hope the third book will redeem Bryn's story.