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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nine Inches of Snow and the Ebony Princess

Nine Inches of Snow and the Ebony Princess by Gracie C. McKeever
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story
Other: M/F, Light BDSM
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Dandelion

An empathic young nurse driven to help and heal others since childhood after watching her mother languish for months before finally succumbing to cancer, Aziza Lopez abhors cruelty and suffering in any form. When she is assigned comatose patient David Healey, Aziza is confronted with the depth of her abilities for the first time since her mother's death and has a chance to contribute to a patient's recovery when modern medicine fails. But can she convince anyone else outside of David's family that she knows who is responsible for his injury when she's finding it hard to deal with the knowledge herself?

The youngest of five brothers, David Healey comes from a close-knit, no-nonsense family of psychics and shapeshifters. He has never suffered fools—or demanding, jealous girlfriends—lightly. But on the eve of a bitter break-up he realizes he is about to suffer a woman scorned when he glimpses his ex behind the wheel of a car careening towards him.

Now Aziza and David are in a race to pull him out of his coma before Aziza's vengeful stepmother can get to him and finish the job she started on a dark road.

This is the first work I’ve read by Gracie McKeever, and I enjoyed it a great deal. The storyline, which draws elements from different well-known fairytales, is tight and well written, and the characters are all realistic and well-developed. Heroine Aziza Lopez is the right combination of uncertain and independent. Because she and and hunky hero David Healey get to meet before he ends up a comatose patient on her nursing ward, we also get to see her fiery side, especially after she witnesses his shape-shifting. David is flawed but completely likable, the nice guy driven by need who still tries to do the right thing. I wasn’t expecting the paranormal twist to this story, when David turns to a wolf at the moment his life is put in danger, but it fits right into the plot. I don’t normally read a lot of paranormal, but I thought David’s shifting between worlds was well done and easy to follow.

The minor characters are also well drawn in this story. I could easily picture the villainess Philomena, who’s responsible for sending David into a coma, thanks to Ms. McKeever’s strong description and character development. And the Healey brothers, along with the domineering grandfather of the clan, all spring off the page despite their minor roles in the story.

The single love scene here is hot and well done, though some readers might wish for more between the hero and heroine. But I liked the fact that the story of saving David takes precedence over multiple explicit sex scenes; in my opinion, this author strikes the right balance.

I did think the ending of “Nine Inches of Snow and the Ebony Princess” wrapped up a little quickly and easily. Even though it’s marketed as “an adult fairy tale,” I’m not sure I believe that Philomena would get her just desserts quite so fast or that Aziza would manage to save David on the first try. And I have to admit, I have no idea what the awkward title of this story means. For a reviewer who likes to see a story’s title tied into its plot, that remained a bit of a sticking point.

Those minor issues aside, I enjoyed this story and will look for more by Gracie McKeever in the future!

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