The Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth Vail

August 26, 2014 Romantic Fantasy 1 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth VailThe Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth Vail
Published by Entangled Publishing on August 26, 2014
Genres: Romantic Fantasy
Pages: 427
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Frederick Snow, first footman, is the perfect servant: efficient, hardworking, and completely bereft of emotion. Unbeknownst to his employers, he’s the lost Duke of Snowmont, on the run from a suspicious stepfather and a powerful magic he can only control by burying his passions beneath his frosty demeanor. He’s managed to hide behind his carefully ordered life until an impertinent miss arrives and challenges everything he thought he wanted.

If Charlotte Erlwood wants to land a wealthy, titled husband at her great aunt’s house party, she has to stop losing her temper – especially with inordinately handsome footmen. Perhaps if she recruits Frederick for her matrimonial schemes, she’ll be able to direct her attention toward suitable single noblemen and away from inappropriate dalliances. But Frederick’s frigid control is no match for Charlotte’s irrepressible spirit, and her passionate kiss could summon the darker side of his magic…or wake his heart from its frozen sleep.

Set in a magical land reminiscent of Regency England, Frederick Snow has served Lady Balrumple of Charmant Park for over ten years, keeping a tight rein on his thoughts, emotions, and magical abilities.  But when he meets Lady Balrumple’s grandniece, Charlotte Erlwood, that infamous control comes crashing down.  Spirited, intelligent, and a little selfish, Charlotte stirs Frederick’s long-suppressed emotions.  As Charlotte and Frederick begin forming an unlikely friendship, others gather close to Charmant Park.  Others that could expose Frederick’s secret and threaten the peaceful life he has built in Lady Balrumple’s service.  Once Charlotte and the other guests learn his secret, will they ever look at him the same way again?

In a refreshing twist, Frederick Snow is actually the focal point and primary character in this romance.  As a footman serving in the household of Lady Balrumple, Frederick is handsome and able to perform an array of necessary duties that keep Charmant Park running smoothly.  He keeps his thoughts and opinions to himself and his emotions behind a wall of ice.  But instead of coming across as broody or boring, Frederick is actually quite passionate and sympathetic.  As a reader, we see the emotions bubbling under the surface and Frederick’s struggle to keep those emotions (and accompanying magical powers) under control.  He quietly supports Charlotte from behind the scenes while battling his own inner demons and we can’t help but root for him as he learns more about his powers, his family, and Charlotte.

Charlotte is, unfortunately, another story.  Charlotte was very difficult to sympathize with at first.  In fact, I outright disliked her for at least the first quarter of the book.  Actions and traits Frederick found charming, I found selfish and borderline abusive.  Thankfully, as she began to relax and open up to Frederick, she became a more charming character.  Selfishness turned into loyalty and a feisty personality.  I really wish we could have seen that side of Charlotte earlier in the book, but it certainly made for a wonderful character growth story.  By the end, I liked Charlotte and believed she was now the person who deserved someone like Frederick.

The magical elements to the story were unexpected, but enjoyable.  While it certainly places this story in the realm of fantasy, the magical elements are not so overwhelming that you’ve got to flip back and forth to figure out what’s happening.  Rather, it provides the backdrop for an essential plot point and then is largely there for comic relief.  There were times I even forgot this was supposed to be a magical realm.

The Duke of Snow and Apples is certainly different from the typical romance novel.  Something akin to Regency England meets Walt Disney-style fairytales.  Very enjoyable.

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