Winter Pleasures by Anya Bast starts off quickly with the arrival of Sienne being presented at Lord Marken’s Court for cross purposes. Cyrus and Sienne are both from Sudhra. At a time of peace, Cyrus presents Sienne to the Lord of Nordan as a sign of diplomacy. Little does Marken realize that Sienne is a pawn in a game of politics and war.
Sienne is a sex slave and it’s all the life she’s ever known thanks to Cyrus. Cyrus has done much to her and against her to make her follow the ruse of spy by threatening the life of her foster family. Sienne is instructed to “spy” on Marken and glean as much information as she can that can help Sudhra politically. Marken is quickly taken with his “gift” and immediately awards Sienne her freedom to her dismay. The Nordans have a very different view of women and do not believe in treating women like chattel. In fact, the Nordans believe in loving freely and do not believe in monogamous relationships. Theirs is a culture threatened with the lack of children or heirs. A woman who has conceived is a woman to be honored. Marken goes out of his way to show Sienne that she deserves love and happiness of her own. So, she sticks around.
Being Lord of Nordan, Marken has his pick of the litter but finds himself only drawn to Sienne. This is clearly against their culture to pick only one mate. Alas, they spend the winter months locked in passion and lust. However, Sienne somehow tips her hand and Marken deduces that Sienne has come to spy on him and that Sudhra has plans to start war. Marken falls hard for Sienne and hopes that if given enough time and trust, she will come to him willingly and ask for help against Cyrus. Further events spark war and Marken and Sienne must confront each other and fight for their HEA.
I enjoyed this story very much. Alas it was a very quick read. Bast knows how to write some of the hottest love scenes, ladies. We’re talking smoking hot. This is a well plotted story with a few secondary characters to help move the plot along. Most of the story is focused only on Marken and Sienne. The story has a quick pace to it so it was hard to put down. I must admit that I often felt the dialogue was stilted in some places, but that just might be me.
Also, I thought that Sienne made a error in judgement only to draw out the conflict between herself and her lover. After war breaks out, Sienne runs off thinking that it’s best for her and for Marken to never see each other again (!) but then comes to her senses when she is captured and underneath him again. How I hate such heroines when they do this! Alas, this is fiction after all and the making up is always nice.
Winter Pleasures, overall you have decent characterization, great chemistry, great sex, a decent story; this book gets a strong recommend from me and a new fan at that, B+.
P.S. I’m not a big fan of CGI people on the cover. Alas, I’ve seen worse.
[tags]Anya Bast, Ebook Review, Romantica[/tags]