Wednesday, August 28, 2013
ARC Novella Review: Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand
Author: Laura Florand
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Well, don't let it be said that Laura Florand can't slay your heart just as much as she makes it palpitate with her descriptions of chocolate! After having read - and loved - five of Florand's novels, I think I am more than qualified to admit that Snow-Kissed is perhaps her most ambitious piece. With every romance I read by Florand, I feel as if I am sucked deeper and deeper into her lush prose. And out of all the contemporary authors out there, only Florand can really bewitch me with her words; which is why, even though I was warned this novel was a heart-breaking one, I simply jumped at the chance to read it as soon as I could. Needless to say, I was far from disappointed.
Snow-Kissed is unlike anything Florand has ever tackled before. I am used to her quiet, but beautiful, romances, all set against the backdrop of Paris and each with a unique heroine. While I find that these novels have more than enough depth, they are primarily a whirlwind of melting chocolate and steamy gazes, which truly mends your heart more than it breaks it. With this novella, however, Florand manages to make the tear-ducts flow using just a few well-timed phrases - and it is slaying. (But so, so worth the read.)
After three miscarriages, Kai is depressed and utterly broken. Although her marriage to Kurt - perfect, caring, and mindful of her every need - is warm and loving, her string of failed pregnancies has driven a wedge between the pair. Unable to cope with having disappointed her husband, Kai leaves, hoping to re-build her life. When Kai and Kurt wind up snowed in, however, on a cancelled trip from work, the two are tense and confused. Can they patch up their marriage or was their perfect happily-ever-after truly too good to last? If Kurt has anything to do with it, though, he's getting Kai back. And this time, he won't let her run away. No matter what.
From the beginning itself, Snow-Kissed is permeated with a melancholy aura of nostalgia and regret. Kai regrets leaving Kurt. Kurt regrets not being enough for Kai to stay. And yet, underneath that, is also the bitterness. Kai is bitter that Kurt cannot understand her feelings, that he cares more for her than the babies they have lost. Kurt is bitter than Kai walked out on him instead of sticking around to make their marriage work. And just with those surface emotions, so much depth in built within this novel. It's gut-wrenching to see Kai and Kurt dance around each other, both so hurt and wary of what to do. And yet, what made me fall so hard for this short story is the fact that it is full of hope. Kai and Kurt, despite their broken pasts, despite the fact that they may never have children, despite the fact that their friends' lives revolve around their children now while their own lives are filled with that gaping hole, despite all that, there is still the hope that they can find a way back to one another.
Moreover, it should be noted that Snow-Kissed is far from a cold, hard novel filled with stark emotion. On the contrary, this book is steaming hot! Seriously. One of the aspects of this novella that I felt really worked was that the sex was such an integral part of the re-growth of this relationship. We are privvy to the perspectives of both Kai and Kurt, so while we feel their emotions and hear their swirling thoughts, we also witness the gradual change in the two of them. Surprisingly, their time away from each other has made both of them ready to do what they were unable to do before: heal together. And while, admittedly, the sex is fan-yourself burning, it's also a very charged, emotional experience that brings this married couple even closer.
Additionally, though, it is impossible not to connect with these characters. Both of them are so well-drawn and realistic that I felt my entire body sag in depression for Kai and similarly perk up at Kurt's burning hope. Kurt, who feels as if Kai is the ray of sunshine in his life with her spontaneity and optimism, is determined to bring back the old Kai - the one who teased him and made him fall so deeply in love with her. And yet, although so much of this novel is focused on Kai's healing, Kurt is never forgotten amid this either. I find that it is so easy to dismiss the father in a novel, merely because he is not the one who undergoes both physical and emotional pain, and while Florand made that distinction, she never disregarded Kurt's feelings either.
And yet, perhaps best - and worst - of all, Snow-Kissed ends off with Kai and Kurt in a better place in their marriage, not necessarily the best one. What Kai and Kurt learn about each other and about their relationship in this novella is incredible, but it is also not everything. We finish this novella knowing that we have only been given a small glimpse into the lives of this couple; a glimpse that does not necessarily reassure us that the future will be better, but does soothe us that the future will have these two tackling its challenges together. Nevertheless, I did feel a certain sense of loss upon completing this novella. I blame Laura Florand's writing - I'm so in love with it that I feel bereft at leaving it all, let alone slightly abruptly the way this one was. However, that small qualm aside, Snow-Kissed is not to be missed for fans of Florand. It may seem unusually heavy - and I certainly have made it seem that way - but truly, there is a pleasant dose of romance side-by-side with the emotional depth that makes this novella so wonderful. If you, like me, are anxiously awaiting your next Florand Fix (yes, her writing is like a drug!), then this will more than sustain you until her next romance novel is out. I, for one, have not regretted my time with Kai and Kurt and know that, once my heart is healed, I will return yet again.