North of Need (Hearts of the Anemoi #1)

North of NeedBy Laura Kaye

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Publisher

While attempting to escape the agonizing memories she associates with Christmas, twenty-nine-year-old widow Megan Snow builds a snow family outside the mountain cabin she once shared with her husband and collapses in tears against the snowman at the sight of what she’ll never have.

Called to life by the power of Megan’s tears, snow god Owen Winters appears unconscious on her doorstep in the midst of a raging blizzard. As she nurses him to health, Owen finds unexpected solace in her company and unimagined pleasure in the warmth of her body, and vows to win her heart for a chance at humanity.

Megan is drawn to Owen’s mismatched eyes, otherworldly masculinity, and enthusiasm for the littlest things, and her heart opens enough to believe he’s a Christmas miracle. But this miracle comes with an expiration before the snow melts and the temperature rises, Megan must let go of her widow’s grief and learn to trust love again, or she’ll lose Owen forever.

Goodreads Summary

Megan Snow is spending this Christmas the same as she spent the last – alone and grieving for the husband she lost in a tragic car accident. A snowstorm blows in, cutting her off from the rest of the world, and in her loneliness she creates a little snow family, outfitting the snowman in her dead husband’s shirt and using mismatched buttons for his eyes. That night as she counts down to the exact anniversary of her husband’s death, a loud noise sends her to the door of her cabin where she finds an unconscious, half-frozen, half-naked man.

Megan’s late husband asked the Gods of Anemoi to send someone to her to give her happiness and love again and Owen, one of the gods of winter, was assigned. After endless time spent incorporeal after being betrayed by someone, he’s fallen in love with Megan and is ready to stay with her. He has to convince her that she can take a chance with her heart again before the spring thaw, when he’ll vanish from her life permanently.

I have these days when I get a little bored with my regular book buying recommendations and start wandering around just buying stuff that looks interesting by authors that are new to me (waves fist at Amazon’s One-Click). That’s how I ended up reading Kaye’s amazing Hearts in Darkness, which led me to this, which I also loved. Like Hearts in Darkness, there isn’t a big amount of outside conflict, just a really solid story about developing relationship. With a snowman.

One of the things I liked so much about HiD was the sense humor Kaye brought to the story. There are a lot of those touches here too – Owen in particular is endearingly funny when he discovers ice cream, but just overall there’s a comfortable, quirky touch to Owen and Megan’s dialogue and relationship.

Sweet, gorgeous, sexy, funny and enormously patient – Owen was pretty much the perfect guy, which should have been a little obnoxious. It wasn’t, because his perfection for Megan was sort of the point – he was chosen specifically for her, he loved her from the beginning and he needed her to love him back. If he had flaws, they were from his Anemoi side, his past and the things he couldn’t or wouldn’t tell Megan about what would happen with them if she couldn’t let go of her fears. In his own way, Owen was just as lonely as she was and had been drifting and unhappy until he’d been assigned to her.  I loved his silly sense of humor, how gentle he was with Megan and how he wanted to give her everything she ever wanted.

At different points in the book, Megan just broke my heart. She was tortured by guilt over her husband’s death – she blamed herself for his being driving that night – and she was living in this bubble of grief. When Owen came along, she instantly felt safe with him and while he wouldn’t tell her everything about where he came from, she trusted that he was there to help her. She was very layered and relatable – she was able to trust Owen, have fun and play with him, have some smoking sex with him and really let him have everything except her entire heart. Her fear and uncertainty were the conflict in the story and they were enough.

I was a little confused about the Anemoi at one point in the story. There was a small spot where it felt like I was in the middle of an infodump, like I had to learn all sorts of names all at once so I would know what was going on. Later it all sorted out as the story unfolded and each God of Anemoi’s purpose as elementals and their pasts and prejudices started to fit into things. Through the whole book, more of Owen’s past was revealed, including the reason he was sent to Megan. I had to love his mentor/father figure, the God of Winter, Boreas. Grouchy, parental, sweet, interfering – I have no idea really what he looked like, but I kept picturing him looking like this (no offense to Kaye or Boreas).

My Summary: It’s not Christmas yet and this isn’t necessarily a holiday story, but while I was reading it, I really wanted to grab a blanket, something warm to drink and maybe get someone to put up my Christmas tree. It’s a cozy, sexy and sweet story, one that doesn’t have to rely on a lot of external conflict to keep it moving. I needed to keep reading to find out if Megan could get over her past. I wanted Owen to have his happily ever after with her after being alone for so long – I cared about these two characters because Kaye’s writing drew me into their story. The paranormal story added some interesting twists – yes, I did think fondly about Frosty the Snowman more than once – and the glimpses into the other Gods promises some very unusual stories to come.

(There’s a great epilogue too – something that’s missing in a lot of romance novels these days!)

My Rating: A



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