This book is very unique and not at all what I expected. The problem with labels is that they create expectations that often keep you from reading a book. I would say that “Captivated by the Winter King” is a book that defies categorization. The term “Erotic Fantasy” made me think of various mythical species becoming “friendly” with humans, with abandon and just for the sake of it. What I found was something very different.
Kate Is suffering in a dreary and hopeless abusive relationship. Robbed of her self-confidence by her mother and her battering fiancée, she has settled for a relationship that is toxic and dangerous. Fortunately for her she has an epiphany and sees the writing on the wall: she must leave or risk horrible injury or death.
Her run for freedom takes a strange turn when a cat runs in front of her car, causing her to lose control. In an instant she is pushed through a portal which opens long enough for her to leave the earthly plain and enter the land of Faerie, a land of magic, gods and goddesses. Waiting for her is the King of the Winter Court, an immortal who, without knowing it, has spent his incredibly long life in a holding pattern until Kate arrives. Within the land of Faerie the concept of a single soul mate is very real and Kate is just that for the King of the Winter Court, something blessed by the Goddess of the land.
What this means for Kate is that she will become the Queen of the Winter court, a position that is both all-consuming and dangerous. Being the Queen will require her to hear cases that involve grievances brought to her by Fae nobles, a dangerous task in itself. What is worse, most of the Fae consider her beneath their notice and, hence, in no position to consort with them, let alone judge them and decide their fate. Worse than that, she has no choice whether to take on these roles; it is illegal for humans entering the land of Faerie to return to the human world. The law, coming from the Goddess, exists to protect the Fae from violent and greedy humans.
Kate Is skeptical at first, not wanting another male to dominate her life and take on a world full of volatility and unbridled ambition that threatens the continued reign of the Winter King. And that brings us to incredible skill with which Mistral Dawn creates an alternative world. The Fae and their culture is fascinating, combining otherworldly magic with very human motivations and jealousies. Imagine the Winter King as man who is tens of thousands of years old, a man that was once a god who lost his godhood gradually to be left as the king of the Winter court. As his strength has waned, ambitious nobility have begun to set their sights on his throne.
As I mentioned, this book does have more than a small element of erotica, something that I approached with trepidation; I am not a fan of erotica. What I found in “Captivating the Winter King” was erotica that is not gratuitous but erotica that fits the path of the story and the psychological state of the main character, Kate. Kate’s evolution from a wilting flower, devoid of confidence, to a new person is directly linked to the sexual dynamic between her and the Winter King, Ankou. The Winter King, during his long life, has developed sexual appetites that are not vicious but, in some ways, therapeutic, though they do involve some consensual use of pain and bondage for sexual gratification.
What is fascinating is watching the transformation of Kate throughout the book. Her considerable demons are exorcised by her emotional and sexual relationship with Ankou which seems to be part and parcel with the culture of the land of Faerie. To my surprise I found the “erotica” was integrated with the greater whole of the story with great skill.
I am looking forward to reading more of Mistral Dawn’s books in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone, even if they are a bit leery of erotica in general.