Captivated By The Winter King (Spellbound Hearts Book 3 is the second book I’ve read by Mistral Dawn. I enjoyed her first fantasy Taken by the Huntsman so much I had to read what else she has written. I skipped past her second and what she calls her “2.5” book to see what The Winter King was up to. I confess I was more than a little intrigued by the book blurb which tells of a woman escaping a domestic abuse situation. As a woman who was in a DV relationship for over ten years I was curious to see how the author would handle this very delicate subject.
To begin with, Kate Graham is in an abusive relationship with her wealthy fiancé Erik. Encouraged by her mother to become involved with Erik, Kate knows she has no one to turn to. In desperation, after a particularly severe beating, Kate escapes. It is during her flight from Erik that she is catapulted into the faerie world of The Winter King, Ankou.
Ankou, King of the Winter Court of Faerie, is a particularly interesting character himself. He was once the “God of Death, Healing, and Prophecy” but as humans lost their faith in him, his powers decreased. After living as a “Wild Fae” for thousands of years he eventually meets Brona who is a Princess of the Winter Court. Although they love one another they are not soul mates. The author goes on to explain how Brona finds her Anamchara, or soul mate. The beginning of the book is a lengthy description of the development of Ankou’s rule after Brona’s demise. This is very useful for any reader venturing into faerie fantasy for the first time, or as a refresher for those who may not have read the author’s earlier books.
As might be expected Ankou realizes that Kate is his Anamchara. Fortunately for him, Kate knows a little about fae life from her late grandmother and seems to have no difficulty accepting his explanation for where she is and who he is.
It is apparent there are those who don’t want to see the Winter King take a Queen and Kate’s life is in danger. Unlike Cassie, the Anamchara of the Erlking, Kate has little difficulty adjusting to her life in the new world. However when she stumbles upon a secret room in Ankou’s apartments the story takes a surprising twist.
Ankou slowly and patiently introduces Kate into the world of BDSM. It is interesting to follow Kate as she experiences pleasurable pain for the first time. Whether a survivor of domestic abuse would be able to adjust to the idea of domination and pain is best left to psychologists. It is however romantic to watch Kate’s growing trust in Ankou.
I applaud Mistral Dawn for taking on a delicate subject and putting a hopeful spin on the odds of survival and developing a healthy relationship after domestic violence. She has taken the time to add contact numbers and addresses for domestic abuse help lines in several countries. This shows a high degree of responsibility on the author’s part.
If you enjoy fantasy, I highly recommend this book. It explores the world of Faerie and the life and customs of the Fae. It brings real life issues to the forefront. The characters are vibrant, the setting vivid. I do warn it is an extremely graphic novel and not for those easily offended by explicit sexual situations.
Kate is a woman on the run. After years of being physically and emotionally abused by her fiance, she’s finally had enough. But leaving might be even more dangerous than staying, so she needs to get as far away as she can as fast as possible. A late night, desperate drive through the pouring rain ends suddenly when a cat appears in the middle of the road. While trying to avoid the half-drowned creature, Kate loses control of her car and crashes through a portal to Fairie.
Ankou is a fallen God of Death and the king of the Winter Court of Fairie, and he’s facing pressure from every direction. The magic of the Court is out of balance due to the centuries-long lack of a queen. He is harried constantly by the Court nobles who want him to either step down or take a mate. All the duties of a ruling pair rest squarely on his shoulders. And added to all this is a soul-crushing loneliness. His existence stretches back hundreds of millennia, and in all that time he has never found the one person who could warm his lonely heart. He is exhausted and discouraged, and the last thing he needs is to go tearing off into the night on a fool’s errand. But one of his lingering god powers is the ability to sense the right course of action to follow, and his instincts are screaming at him to go to a particular place in the forest of the Winter kingdom and wait. Imagine his surprise when he finds the one he has been waiting for his whole life!
Using a careful blend of patience, seduction, and domination, the Winter king tries to win his soulmate’s love. Feeling safe and valued for the first time in her memory, Kate explores her new freedom by agreeing to try the BDSM games her lover suggests. As she experiments with both domination and submission, she learns just how liberating surrender can be. Will Ankou be able to convince Kate that she can trust him with her feelings as well as her body? Will Kate find a way to overcome the trauma of her past and open up her heart to accept the love that is offered to her? Can these two broken people find a way to fit all their disparate pieces together into a stronger, united whole? You’ll have to read to find out!
**Trigger Warning: please note that this story contains depictions of domestic violence and other forms of familial abuse. If these types of situations cause you distress, this may not be the story for you.
**Please note that this story contains scenes of violence and explicit sexual scenes including BDSM. If this type of material offends you, this is probably not the story for you.
US -National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
UK- 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline – 08082000247
Canada- Violence Unsilenced – 1-800-363-9010