Cover Between Frost and Fury: Space with stars and gaseous colorful clouds, the silhouettes of a man and woman fly towards each other

About the Book

Title: Between Frost and Fury (The Xenith Trilogy #2)
Published: 2018
Series: The Xenith Trilogy
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Cover Story: That’s Gonna Hurt
BFF Charm: Torn
Talky Talk: Romance Novel (In Space)
Bonus Factors: Tasty Business – Alien Edition
Relationship Status: Another Arranged Marriage

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the second book in The Xenith Trilogy, so if you haven’t read the previous one, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up in the library by the pool with the first book before continuing. 

Cover Story: That’s Gonna Hurt

The female figure looks like she’s leaping into the arms of the male figure—but wait! His arms aren’t open to catch her! He’s basically going to full-on chest-bump her back out into that cloud of toxic gas. Not cool, bro, not cool.

I’m not a fan of this cover; it somehow manages to be even cheesier than the first book’s.

The Deal:

At the end of Amid Stars and Darkness, Delaney was enjoying having her freedom—and her own face—again back on Earth with her new Vakar boyfriend, Ruckus. But then to her dismay, she gets kidnapped! Again! Trystan, her fake Kint fiancé, found out who she was and realized it was Delaney, not Olena, who actually went through the Vakar succession ritual and has been deemed the heir to the Vakar throne. As a bonus for Trystan, this means he no longer has to marry the jerky and vapid Olena, but can make Delaney his co-ruler-in-chief. He’s even more bound and determined now that he knows the real girl behind the alien princess mask.

But Delaney finds herself back in the position of “playing along” with being the Vakar heir to avoid war, death, and general dismemberment, and she’s quite sick of it. She’s holding out for a hero in the form of Ruckus and his Vakar friends, which is proving fairly tough because Trystan is actually a pretty smart (though rigid) cookie and he doesn’t plan on letting her go that easily. And he does have really pretty hair, and, wow, those eyes. Oh, and it can be damn satisfying to ruffle his feathers with their verbal sparring. But Delaney loves Ruckus…right?

BFF Charm: Torn

BFF charm with Natalie Imbruglia's face.

I didn’t really connect with Delaney when we last met, partly because she was having to play a role that wasn’t her own. Everyone is now aware that she’s just a simple human (we fragile creatures) and she’s still being held against her will, so she’s frustrated and pissed off and not at her most charming. Sometimes I liked her, but sometimes I was annoyed by her lack of critical thinking. Plus, being Delaney’s friend seems to often mean being thrown in jail or being killed, so… if I were to sneak into her room to help her through her boy drama, for example, I’d need to be really sure we were ride or (literally) die, and I can’t say that with certainty.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I feel like Feener is going to pull a full-on Maas (oh, is that not a thing? Well, here, let me define it for you: it’s when an author has her protagonist fall in love with one dude and then completely switches teams to fall in love with the other dude by the second book). This is not as clearly defined as Rhys and Feyre, but Delaney is so far gone into the Bermuda Love Triangle that she isn’t going to find her way out with just a map and a compass. Trystan, like in the last book, can be somewhat controlling (he’s a prince and used to getting his way, plus he has modeled his behavior after his super-horrible dad) and dismissive and obnoxious. (Buuuut he also looks like Alexander Skarsgård in my mind and I, uh, find it really hard not to want to jump on Alexander Skarsgård.) And he’s also emotionally broken! He has a mushy inside and a dead mom! His people love and respect him! And, to be fair, he does take constructive criticism and try to improve on his assholery. So I feel a bit like a bad feminist when I am not-so-secretly rooting for Delaney to get over Ruckus (who is the blandest of the bland love interests, which surely means he was just a placeholder, right?) and climb up on Trystan, but, whatever, cuz she can, like, fix him, can’t she?

Talky Talk: Romance Novel (In Space)

Somewhere in the middle of this book I realized it was a romance novel. (All the readers go, “A-duh, Stephanie.”) But hear me out: I was mad at the last book for not giving us enough of the internal alien politics, and it looked like Between Frost and Fury was gearing up to be more of the same. There were a LOT of scenes that started and ended with Delaney being escorted to her bedroom to sit and wait on Trystan or whomever decided to come visit her that day because she is, essentially, a Pretty Pretty Princess Prisoner. So when it finally, finally clicked this is, first and foremost, a romance novel—regardless of whether it intended to be—and not a sci-fi space opera with a romance side-plot, I began to enjoy myself more. You may again be outraged thinking, “But, Stephanie! Romance novels deserve great plots and political intrigue too!” And you would be super right. But I do tend to judge straight-up romance (like the bodice-ripping, Regency-era gambling dukes, widower-cowboy-with-a-cute-five-year-old kinda stuff) on a different scale than my “serious” books. #sorrynotsorry You just can’t expect certain things out of something when they simply…are what they are.

Overall I ended up enjoying this one more than I thought, despite some of the same problems I had with the first book (the dialogue is a bit clunky, the action takes a long time to get going, characterization is sort of shallow). I tend to love the hate-to-love romance plot, so YMMV if this sort of thing isn’t your jam. I closed the book having been suckered into anticipating the final installment, so I’d say this middle book did what it was supposed to: kept me entertained and wanting more.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business – Alien Edition

Deviled eggs with the edges are bright pink

Delaney refers to Trystan as a “foodie” with a fondness for sweet breakfast items and Trystan smartly knows that the way into a girl’s heart is to feed her delicious food. At one point they are cooking together and the recipe includes pink stuff and blue beads and I am so, so curious to know what the author was envisioning this stuff to taste/look like. Where is taste-o-vision, inventors? It’s 2018!

Relationship Status: Another Arranged Marriage

Book, my last arranged marriage didn’t work out, but apparently I don’t learn my lessons that quickly, because I allowed myself to be pulled into another one! Surprisingly, though, I’m not as unhappy as I expected. Could this be love? Alright—maybe I won’t go that far, but you’ve got some qualities I look for when I want to relax and not have to think too hard. Maybe I won’t be in such a rush to break this marriage bond.

Literary Matchmaking

Starry Eyes

For enemistry, romance, and plot done super right, get lost with Jenn Bennett’s contemporary Starry Eyes.

Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies #1)

Fly the skies with Rhoda Belleza’s Empress of a Thousand Skies for more space, royalty, and political intrigue.

Scan

When will people with emotionally unavailable parents learn that they can never do anything to win their parent’s approval? If you’re looking for more complicated parent-child relationships, read Scan by Sarah Fine and Walter Jury.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Swoon Reads. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Between Frost and Fury is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.