Description from Goodreads:
When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.
Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.
Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she s worth her silk or if she s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.
Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, What does dragon taste like? Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.
It was that silly little warning at the end of the description that made me want to read A Hint of Frost and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Yes, it’s has many of the fantasy PNR tropes, but it has enough in it’s favour to keep it for feeling like just another rehash of the same old same old. Yes, there is an instant attraction between Lourdes and Rhys, but it wasn’t quite insta-love which was nice. Plus, Lourdes has accepted her situation and the necessity of mating Rhys so there isn’t all the bitchy hero blaming that so often goes on in such books. I appreciated having two mature characters in a difficult situation who didn’t take it out on one another. Yes, Lourdes is sheltered and virginal, but she doesn’t act like a fragile flower and is more than willing to acknowledge her own desires. I especially liked that in the sexy scenes (there isn’t a lot of actual sex) the language used to describe her thoughts, feelings and actions were almost identical to those usually attributed to males in other PNR novels. She wanted to mark him, claim him, pleasure him, etc. It’s usually the female who is the passive participant in these scenes so I got a real kick out of seeing that turned on it’s head.
The book is full of beautiful prose and I really enjoyed Edwards writing style. There is also something else I’m trying to put my finger on that I liked. There were a number of times in which I remember reading a passage and vaguely acknowledging that certain characters’ thoughts or actions went against what normal PNR characters would do (despite my allegations of the use of tropes, which might be largely unavoidable anyway). But it wasn’t blatant, small things like Lourdes acknowledging and apologising for an error that another PNR heroine would insist she had every right to. Or being observant enough and aware enough of her own body to admit attraction when other PNR females would flounder around in the ‘he can’t possible be attracted to me’ or ‘what is this strange flutter I have’ for a while. It was more a general feeling given to the characters than anything I can find many firm examples of, but it was nice.
Now I was completely unprepared for the human/arachnid blend going on in this book. People with spinnerets in their fingers and venomous fangs….not completely cool with that. Sorry but spiders are high on my totally freak me out list. Luckily they only had two arms and two legs or I wouldn’t have been able to make it through. But it did make for an interesting addition to the world building. It allowed there to be different subspecies in a sense. Some clans being more or less venomous than others.
All in all I enjoyed the read. It’s the first in a series and there are a few arcs that are obviously only meant for carry-through, the Yellow Death for example. It served almost no purpose in this book, but appears (from the book descriptions) to be a major occurrence in the future books. There is no cliffhanger at the end of this one though. This book wraps up nicely. I’m learning to appreciate that more and more.