Release Day Review: The Winter Prince by R. Cooper

His heart stolen by a powerful pari’s magic, a young prince’s veins slowly fill with ice. That is what the stories say. Three years have passed since, and all efforts to save Kisin have failed. He won’t survive another winter. To save the prince’s life, Razin, the court wizard and Kisin’s childhood friend, plans to seek out the pari. But unbeknownst to Razin, Kisin’s heart was never stolen; he gave it freely to escape the pain of impossible love—his love for Razin. Razin won’t accept Kisin’s fate, for reasons obvious to anyone who knows anything of love.

Kisin agrees to the desperate quest, out of duty and a need to protect Razin. But it isn’t long before Razin realizes saving his prince will require more than simply retrieving his heart. Razin will have to convince him to want it.

I’m a big fan of fairy tales and especially the ones that have a little extra grit to keep them interesting. I’m also a big fan of R. Cooper’s writes, if you haven’t read Dancing Lessons yet, you really need to. So, I was really looking forward to reading this one. The premise sounded unique and in that way the book did not disappoint. The language the author used was beautiful and there was symbolism aplenty.

The Winter Prince himself goes by a few names, see, in his culture their names change as they age. It sounds like it would have been hard to follow, but it really wasn’t. I still don’t really get/remember what every incarnation meant so some of that was lost on me, but for the majority of the book he was Kisin. I He was also known, from his younger days, as Arrow and I liked that name best. It suited him.

The rumor is Kisin gave his heart away to a pari, a kind of angelic fairy dude. (I had to GTS – google that shit) but I could figure it out from the context. It was generally assumed that his heart had been seduced away from him and he was left without any means to keep him warm not just physically, but emotionally. The author did a really good job with the descriptions here. I was cold just reading it and my heart really hurt for Kisin. You know how, when you’re REALLY cold and how much it hurts when you’re exposed to too much heat too fast? It’s almost like the cold is better because you’ve gotten used to it? That’s how Kisin feels ALL the time. He’s incredibly loyal and noble, he is a prince and the leader of the immortal guards after all, so he tries not to let anyone in on how bad his condition has become. Everyone knows though and before long the conclusion is reached that Kisin will likely not survive another winter without his heart and he and the wizard’s apprentice head out on their quest to retrieve his heart.

Now, the wizard’s apprentice, Razin, is everything warm to Kisin’s cold. All words to describe him ring of warmth. He’s described as “slight, and brown as rosewood . . . “ with “eyes the color of cassia”. Rosewood being found in tropical climates and cassia being the bark of the “true” cinnamon tree, both things that brought warmth to my mind. He dresses in robes the color of pomegranate and it’s pretty obvious that Kisin is a smitten kitten for Razin. And vice versa. This is where I had my troubles with the story. I had the complete setup for an epic adventure of a fairy tale.

The only thing that left me wanting by the end of this book, was actually less. I wanted less.

Let me try to explain. The first 60-ish% of the book is the setup and conversations between the two MC’s, lots of conversations that didn’t move the story forward. Neither of them opened up to share their feelings beyond reminiscence of their childhood friendship, and they were both obviously a little fussy about being together. Being near the one they wanted most but didn’t think they could ever have for all kinds of royalty rules reasons made for snippy traveling companions. They had all manner of slightly cryptic conversations that said lots of words without saying much and then just when the conversation miiiiight move forward and enlighten the other MC (and me) as to why they’re in the situation they’re in . . . .BAM! Interruption! And then they continued questing without a new hint to keep me hooked on the WHY??? I would be OK with it if I learned a little something new each time, but it was not to be. It felt much longer than it actually was and that was frustrating.

Once the book went past the 60% mark, things really got rolling and my interest was all in. A couple new characters had been introduced that made everything more interesting and the two MC’s finally, FINALLY, started talking. The beautiful language continued, it had some meaning to it, and the story moved forward. There was some pretty good heroic action that was fun to read and a factor that every good fairy tale should have.

The ending came pretty quickly and I wished I could have had a little more of them together to get my brain wrapped up in an HEA for Kisin and Razin. I liked them together a lot, Razin’s snarky endearments for Kisin, when he would call him his “dull Arrow” or his “sharp Arrow” depending on the conversation were really cute. Just when I got my reading reward of the two of them finally together the book was over. It’s hard for me to get completely invested in a relationship when it took most of the book for them to even admit their feelings. In the end I just needed less conversation in the beginning and more at the end to balance out the story.

One last note about the cover, not something I would mention and I digress from the story here, but I’m not sure which of these guys is supposed to be Razin but neither is how he was depicted in the book. Or even Kisin for that matter. Neither of those guys is him either. That’s a bummer, because I loved how they were described and even slightly more representative pictures of them would have been a real plus. Kind of an opportunity for an amazing cover wasted considering how visually descriptive and visceral the writing was. This book deserved better representation on its cover.

For more information and purchase information on The Winter Prince, visit Dreamspinner Press.

**a copy of this story was provided by the publisher for an honest review**

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