“I love this world…this is Gena Showalter at her best!”—J.R. Ward, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The Gods of War series is my new obsession.”—Christine Feehan, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Gena Showalter, the New York Times bestselling author who brought you the Lords of the Underworld, introduces a scorching new paranormal romance series…Gods of War
Knox of Iviland, the most ruthless warrior in All War history, has spent his life fighting others to the death, winning new realms for his king. Now the stakes are higher than ever. If he prevails in the battle for Earth, his slave bands will be removed. Victory is his sole focus…until he meets her.
On an arctic getaway with her foster sister, street tough but vulnerable Vale London is shocked to stumble upon a cave filled with ancient gods waging epic combat. When she is inadvertently drawn into their war, she is forced to team up with an unlikely ally—the sexy god who makes her burn with desire.
Though Vale is his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can triumph, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.
About the Author
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over fifty books, including the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, and the White Rabbit Chronicles. She writes sizzling paranormal romance, heartwarming contemporary romance, and unputdownable young adult novels, and lives in Oklahoma City with her family and menagerie of dogs. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com.
Read an Excerpt
Present Day Somewhere in the Arctic Circle
"Heads are going to roll."
Sore, tired and chilled to the bone, Vale London dropped a ten thousand pound backpack, leaned against a wall of ice and scanned her surroundings — a sea of snow broken up by mountains and seracs that made her fancy that ocean waves had flash-froze just before they'd come crashing down.
Frigid wind howled, the sound of it somehow more glacial than the below zero temp, screams of pain and helplessness seeming to echo within.
"Are we talking literally or figuratively?" Her beloved foster sister Magnolia "Nola" Lee dropped her pack as well, sat atop it and drew a thick flannel blanket around her shoulders. "With you I never know."
Vale savored the flavor of sweetened brown butter that coated her tongue. At some point in her childhood development, wires had gotten crossed in her brain, leaving her with a severe case of synesthesia. She heard sounds, just like everyone else, but she tasted them, too. Letters also registered as colors, and numbers appeared as a three-dimensional map inside her head.
The more nuanced the sound, the richer the flavor.
"Figuratively ... maybe," she replied. "The next time I see our absentee guide, he'll be lucky to walk away. Or even crawl." She wasn't known as a street-tough scrapper for nothing! And the POS had ruined what was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime, so he had to pay.
Dang it, Nola hadn't needed this kind of stress, or danger. She'd needed a break. The girl worked two full time jobs. If she wasn't baking and selling the goods at local office buildings, she was writing How To copy for her dating column in Oklahoma Love Match magazine. And Vale ... Vale had needed a break from everything. Had hoped to enjoy one last hoorah — or maybe a first hoorah — before she and Nola settled down and opened a fancy-schmancy gourmet donut shop slash catering center slash speed dating and bachelorette party hub, with Vale on paperwork duty and Nola behind the oven and the counter.
Vale's biggest mistake? Booking each extracurricular activity with the cheapest company possible, in order to do more stuff on a limited budget. Quality beat quantity; she understood that now. So how about a break, world?
Three weeks ago, she and Nola had thought adventure awaited when they'd arrived in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. And it had. For five days. Then they'd road-tripped into Russia and hiked through the Khibiny Mountains with a thirty-something guide who'd promised a kick-A experience. Temperatures had proven frosty, but there'd been very little snow, and no ice. A plethora of trees had awed, their leaves plush and green enough to rival freshly polished emeralds, seemingly dusted with diamond powder. Here and there, rivers had babbled happily, and breathtaking waterfalls had cascaded into crystal pools.
Somehow, their little trio had veered off of a path and ended up in this icy wasteland. In a blink!
Backtracking hadn't helped. The ice had remained, and stretched on. A single set of footprints had led them to a cabin ... where they'd spent every day of the past two weeks. Well, Vale and Nola had spent every day of the past two weeks inside the cabin. Before the end of day one, their guide had taken off to scout the perimeter, hoping to stumble upon the cabin's owner, he'd said, but he'd never returned, and there'd been no sign of him since.
This morning, the sisters were forced to make a choice: remain in the warmth of the cabin and slowly starve to death, or set out to try to find help, and quickly freeze to death.
As Carrie — aka Care Bear, aka best foster momma ever — used to say, If you want to experience the miracle of walking on water, you gotta get out of the boat.
Better to try and fail than to never try at all.
In desperate need of a miracle, Vale and Nola had strapped on snow gear they'd unearthed in a trunk only a few days before. Oddly enough, the garments had fit perfectly, as if tailor-made for them. The coincidence had roused her suspicions, sure, but in the end she hadn't cared about how or why, only survival. They'd set out bright and early that morning, trudging through mile after mile of snow.
Now sunset approached. So far, no luck. They'd found no hint of life, and Vale was getting worried.
Getting? Please. She'd been worried every second of every day since the nightmare had started. She wasn't ready to die.
She'd put her life on hold for years, working various jobs while going to school full-time. Just when she'd completed a business degree from the University of Oklahoma — Go Sooners! — with zero student debt, she was going to kick the bucket? No! Completely unacceptable.
And die knowing she'd caused her sister's suffering? Never.
"I'm sorry," she said, guilt getting the better of her. Despite a top of the line face mask, her nose and lungs burned when she inhaled. When she exhaled, her goggles fogged.
"Don't you dare take the blame. It's mine, and I never share. You know that." Nola's breath no longer misted the air. A bad sign. Very bad. "I was feeling so good, I kept bugging you to add more stops to our itinerary."
Her sister suffered from fibromyalgia. On any given day, Nola's overactive nerves could cause extreme fatigue, total body aches, and swell each of her joints. A cocktail of medication helped alleviate the symptoms, but couldn't cure the disease.
"Sorry, sis, but the hike was my idea." Apparently, relaxing wasn't her thing. Any time she'd had a quiet moment, she'd considered the avalanche of responsibility headed her way, and panicked. Which made zero sense. She'd dreamed of opening the donut shop for years. And yes, okay, her dreams revolved around Nola's happiness rather than her own, but come on! Making Nola happy should make Vale happy. Still, in an effort to hide her panic, she'd made sure she had no quiet moments. "The blame is mine, and that's final."
"Fine. I'll go halvsies with you." Nola pretended to fluff her hair. "If we die, we die, but at least we look cute."
"Dude. We do look cute." They both wore a sleek coat, a downy jacket, thermals, fleece tights, a pair of goggles, a face mask, a hat and gloves. On their feet were multiple pairs of wool socks and hiking boots with ice cleats. "We could charm the flannel off a snow-biker gang."
"Or a yeti with a Southern girl fetish. I bet we could win his heart no problem."
"If he doesn't want to eat our hearts first ... battered and deep-fried, with melted butter on the side." Her mouth watered. "I wonder what sautéed yeti tastes like."
"If you start licking your chompers when you look at me ... I won't feel so guilty for debating whether your liver would pair better with a nice red or a six-pack of cheap beer."
"You've seen my hangovers. Avoid my liver and go for the rump roast." She gave her butt a little slap.
Nola chuckled, only to lapse into silence when a bitter wind nearly knocked them both off their feet. "D-distract me f-from the cold, and I'll l-l-love you forever." Her lips were tinted blue, her teeth chattering with more and more force.
"You already love me forever." Just as Vale loved Nola, the greatest person in the world, living or dead, real or fake. Would move heaven and earth for her. "But I'm awesome, probably the awesomest, so I'll take on this herculean task. Tell me your favorite part of the trip."
"Only e-everything." Nola shifted atop her bag, unable to stifle a whimper of pain. Then she continued as if nothing had happened. "Well, except f-for the abandonment, starvation and h-hypothermia, of course."
"Such trifling matters." Helplessness pelted her insides with bullets. Rub some dirt on it and keep going. "We did everything on our BA lists." BA — before adulting. Extending her index finger, she said, "We marveled over the northern lights."
The chattering slowed, and Nola said, "We went on an overnight dog sled expedition that made me want to adopt a rescue pet as soon as I get home."
"We ice sculpted. FYI, my blob was better than your blob."
"It's true. Oh! We also hot tubbed while drinking champagne."
"Lastly, we hiked through the Arctic Circle."
"Only one item remains unchecked."
"Fall for a handsome local," they said in unison.
Nola grinned and added, "I thought I had a connection with our guide ... until he left us to die and all. But even then, he was better than my most recent online dates. Would someone please explain why modern guys send strangers unsolicited pictures of their genitals?"
"Because of course we women are catapulted into a foaming-at-the-mouth sexual frenzy the instant we catch sight of some rando's man-junk. Duh."
"They are so proud of their peens, aren't they? Meanwhile I'm over here like, congrats on your average-size erection, dude, it's maybe not quite as hideous as everyone else's."
"But," Nola added.
"Oh, no. No buts." Her sis was a hopeless romantic. A hopeless optimistic as well. Nola believed everyone deserved a second, third and fourth chance — which was why she wrote such an excellent How To column. How to intrigue your crush blah, blah. Vale, however, was a realist.
She wasn't closed off to relationships, per se, but she wasn't open, either. People were intrinsically flawed. At some point, they were going to disappoint you — leave you. So, she lived by a code. Always be the leaver, never be the leavee. And yes, she knew her code had roots in childhood abandonment. So what? Issues were issues for a reason. Intrinsically flawed, remember? Most people sucked a nut.
Nola and Carrie were exceptions. Her mom and baby bro were as well ... until they'd died in a tragic accident that forever altered the course of her life. Her dad would have been wonderful, too, if he hadn't taken off, leaving her to bounce from home to home and wonder what was wrong with her, why no one wanted to keep her.
Avoid, avoid! That thought train had only one station: Depressionville.
So, moving on. Vale had a low tolerance for BS, and she believed happily-ever-afters were an illusion because — let's be honest — the longer couples were together, the more time they had to get to know each other, dig deeper, dig past all the pretty smiles and lies they told to make their choices seem okay, to finally see the garbage heap inside. More time to deceive each other, lash out and inflict pain.
Get in, get out.
Fact was, something was going to get broken or stolen if you let down your guard and finally trusted someone. Most often you were left bleeding internally.
Vale had dated around for a while, but she'd never gotten serious with a guy. Mainly because she'd had to spend an enormous amount of energy pretending to be something she wasn't: sweet and gentle. It had stressed her out, which had made her even more prickly, blunt and abrasive, and ultimately she'd given up.
At least, that was the reason she embraced. Otherwise she'd have to admit there wasn't a man alive willing to put in the work and fight to be with her.
"Lately, my love life has been exactly like a private jet," Nola said, pulling Vale from her wayward thoughts.
"Oh, yeah? How so?"
"I don't have a private jet."
She laughed. Funny girl. "Come on. Let's travel a little farther before we settle in for the night." Their bodies needed heat, and movement would add logs to the fire.
Nola lumbered to her feet. They helped each other strap on the packs before marching forward. Vale hauled the bulk of supplies while her sis had blankets and medications, but even still, guilt robbed her of breath every time Nola grunted or groaned from exertion.
Another distraction, coming up. "I miss Carrie," she said.
At thirteen years old, both Vale and Nola were assigned to the woman who handled "difficult" cases — young girls with a disability of some sort. Carrie had done more than open her home and heart; she'd taught her charges how to love themselves, and how to thrive.
Vale, honey, do you think a twenty-dollar bill is worth any less if it's dirty and wrinkled? No way in heck! You might be a little rough around the edges, but you are still priceless.
Carrie and her words of wisdom. She'd loved the adage about the potato, egg and coffee beans most of all.
In boiling water, the potato softens, the egg hardens, but the mighty coffee beans change the water. Don't let difficult times weaken or harden you, girls. Get up and change the situation!
Eyes gleaming with fondness, Nola nodded. "If she were here, she'd cook up a feast. Snowcakes. Slush omelets. Ice bacon. Hail biscuits and blizzard gravy."
Vale grinned, even as hunger gnawed her empty stomach. But the grin was quickly shaken off by a trembling chin. Last year, Carrie had suffered a massive heart attack and, over the ensuing weeks, she'd only weakened. Finally, she'd slipped away.
Her death left a hole in Vale's heart. "I vividly remember the day I moved in. Back then, I lived by prison rules. You know, show them who's boss on day one. So of course I destroyed Carrie's living room, toppling furniture and breaking anything glass. When I finished, she calmly asked if I'd like my sweet tea iced or steaming."
Mimicking the prim and proper Carrie, Nola said, "Always be a lady, until you need to be a land mine."
Carrie had only ever exploded when it came to the protection of her girls.
A sense of homesickness tightened Vale's chest, which flattened her lungs. Great! Now she needed a distraction from the distraction.
As they continued trudging through the snow, she asked, "What are we going to call our donut shop, anyway?"
Nola had suggested The Donut Bar and Drunkin' Donuts, since their sweet treats paid homage to different alcoholic beverages, but both names had been taken already.
"What about Tricks and Treats? Oh! I've got it." Nola clapped her gloved hands. "Happy Hour Donuts."
"Cute, but neither one says high end. Or revs my motor. I'm sorry!"
Frick — Carrie's favorite "curse" word. "We could simplify and go with Lee and London," Vale said.
"I love it, but no one will know what we're selling."
"Maybe not at first, but we can leverage social media to spread the word."
"True. What about Lady Carrie's."
Excitement instantly sparked. "Duuuude. Lady Carrie's is perfect."
"Well sprinkle sugar on my butt and call me a gourmet donut. Did we just name our shop?"
Vale was just about to reply — Our timing is impeccable, as always — when she spotted an ice hill up ahead. There was something about it ... something odd. But what, exactly? Her eyes and brain said Nothing's out of place.
Heart and legs picking up speed, she crossed the distance, gasped. A perfect six-foot hole had been cut into the side, leading to a perfect hollowed-out tunnel with a perfect upward tilt. Definitely man-made. What was inside? Or better yet, who was inside?
A whimper of anticipation broke free. If the tunnel led to a cavern — occupied or unoccupied, it didn't matter — she could get Nola out of the elements sooner rather than later.
"Wait here," she said when her sister reached the hill. "I'll check out —"
"Nope, sorry. We go in together."
"If there's a wild animal squatting inside, only one of us should be its dinner." Mmm. Dinner.
"You're right. The other one will be dessert."
Stubborn girl. "Fine." Vale withdrew a long coil of rope from her pack, knotted one end around her sister's waist and the other around her own. Nola isn't falling to her death on my watch. Next, she withdrew ice axes. Two for each of them. "We'll find a cavern, or drop. Whichever comes first."
After zipping and adjusting her bag, she swung an ax, walked her spiked boots up several jagged steps, then swung the other ax. Rinse, repeat. Again and again. Nola did the same, below and to the right of her.
The higher they climbed, the darker the enclosure became, and the more her muscles protested.
Drip, drip. Drip, drip.
Ironically enough, the steady chorus of water drops tasted like melted vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day. Like hope. Hope gave her strength. Up, up. Higher still.
"I'm not sure ... I can go ... much farther," Nola said heaving from exertion.
"You can. You will." If they stopped now, they'd end up right back where they'd started. When a soft, warm — well, warmer — breeze caressed a patch of exposed skin, she gasped. "There's something ahead, so move your butt!"
The tunnel curved to the right and —
A small pinprick of light caught her attention. "I see something!" Vale climbed faster, closing in.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Shadow and Ice"
Copyright © 2018 Gena Showalter.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
SHADOW AND ICE, 7,
LIST OF COMBATANTS, 481,
KILL TALLY (contains spoilers), 487,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is going to be a fantastic series. Gena really knows how to tell a story. To keep readers engaged and guessing. I can't wait until the next Gods of War.
Wish she could write faster. Can't get enough of her characters.
I love Gena Showalter. Her writing is great. The only issue I had with the book was she was heavy handed on the sex scenes. I get the attraction but it seemed she was laying it on thick. It was a bit much in my opinion. I loved the storyline. But come on. Both characters pant just looking at each other?! I was wanting to move past it to the rest of the story. It seemed meh. I recommend it bc again, I love her books.
Over 300 pages, loved it.
From the first page I found myself immediately sucked into this new world. The characters are fun, layered and this new series feels fresh. Gena did a great job of mapping out the characters and universe to set up what looks to be a long standing series. I can't wait for the next book.
Fierce, seductive, and savagely action packed! Shadow and Ice is a riveting, at times shocking tale that introduces us to Vale London and her sister, Nola, two young women stranded in the Arctic who inadvertently stumble upon warriors from the fight-until-death, All War battle who have been frozen for 1,400 years, until now. The prose is intense and intricate. The characters are unique, remorseless, and scarred. And the plot is an imaginative, compelling tale of supernatural abilities, magnificent weapons, sizzling chemistry, brutal violence, loyalty, humour, romance, and murder. I have to say Shadow and Ice is like taking Hunger Games, Marvel Super Heroes, Gladiator, and a slice of mythology and mixing them all together. It's an epic saga featuring lots of bloody battles, grit, determination, gore, sexual tension, heat, adventure, and fantastical elements that is without a doubt suspenseful, violent, steamy, and thoroughly entertaining.
Always a good read
This was a good introduction into a new world and series. I did find the book a little slow in parts. It had great character introduction and intriguing side stories that make you want to read more from this series. Previous comments stated the love scenes were too heavy but I felt the opposite was true for me I could have used a little more oomph!!! I thought the action/violence was a little heavy at times but overall I am excited to read more and want to find out what happens to her sister and the other contenders!!
It started out a little slow but wow did it go further and I would not put the book down until I knew Vale and Knox would be okay....I can’t wait till the next one!!!!
I love everything GENA SHOWALTER!!! It’s always an automatic purchase. And I put off reading this book because I knew I’d be sidetracked and waiting for the second installment....and I was right. GODS OF WAR is going to be just as compelling as LORDS is. I don’t know how you do it, and considering how many supernatural series I’m involved in and had read, you manage to hang me in suspense and surprise me every time. THANK YOU!!!!! “Can’t wait for the next one” goes without saying. And now I’m going to find some doughnuts.....
While it has been a while since I have read anything by Showalter, I was excited to see a new series by her and was really looking forward to learning about the world that she would build for this story. I just couldn't though. It did not hold my interest and I struggled to finish it. Maybe it had just been too long since I had read her and the premise just wasn't my cup of tea. That being said, it doesn't mean I will not read something else by her. She is a good writer.
3.5 Stars Review by Lisa Late Night Reviewer Up All Night w/ Books Blog If the caption for this book doesn't grab you as a paranormal fan, then I don't know what to say. Shadow and Ice by Gena Showalter is book 1 in the Gods of War series. That being said, there is a lot of detail and information in preparation for the rest of the series. As I enjoyed reading this book, I felt that it had a repetitiveness to it-a little to much fighting. BUT being a book of a war, it is expected. When entering into a war to the death, Knox has his eye on planet Earth. Having been enslaved as a child because of his special abilities has groomed him into the man he is today. Vale is looking for some fun before settling down to live. During her adventurous getaway, she stumbles upon the ancient Gods and her life is forever altered. Being enemies isn't always that easy when lust, maybe even love can get into the way. One thing I enjoyed about this story is the originality of it. The format is nicely done and it is very detailed in its unfolding.
This is the first in Gena Showalter’s Gods of War series. It has given me hope for a resurgence of paranormal romance. The world, although complex especially at first, is innovative and unique. Immortal warriors (and maybe a token human) compete in an “All War” to win for their dimension ruler (who in exchange for them winning in a Hunger Games-style scenario with only one winner who kills everyone else will release the winner’s family...and if they lose said family dies). This complexity necessitated so so much description in the first chapters. It took a few chapters to catch on and get the hang of this world. Although, just when I thought I understood, the rules would subtly shift. If you persevere there’s enough gore, fighting, power struggles, steamy sexy times and egos to keep the story hopping. If you’re not into explicit gory details of fights, then this isn’t the one for you. I found the author’s descriptions of such scenes masterful and much like a train wreck you don’t want to watch but can seem to stop staring. Then the characters...Knox and Vale. Each interesting with characterizations that were rich but sometimes conflicting in goals and objectives. When they first met I felt her being into him—like almost crazy into him even though she didn’t want to be. Yet, we didn’t get any information he had enthrallment magic. So, I tried to figure out why she would be so needy for this guy after he abducts her to his alternate dimension secret hidey-hole after a bloody, terrifying battle (not even abducted to “save” her but because he thinks he can use her for something). And, she was upset that her sister had been taken by a different warrior. Yet, she was almost instantly miss hot-to-get-naked with him. That had moments that came off awkward, although the heat between the characters literally steams off the page. Knox seemed to toy with her crush on him at first, but didn't seem that into her (his interest did develop which was necessary to the story but not right away). Now, Vale wasn’t a pushover and that I adored about the character. She’s mouthy and sometimes badass. We do learn to understand how Knox became consciously isolated and hard after centuries of battles. Interesting and fascinating start to a new series. I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Vale and her sister Nola have embarked on an arctic vacation before starting a bakery business together. Some difficult circumstances lead them to a snow cave where warriors and gods of old are encased in ice - but not for long. How would you react if you were suddenly in the middle of a thousands year old battle to the death and the prize was your planet? Vale is one tough cookie and following her on this adventure was a spectacular ride! We get to meet alphas a plenty and drop into this reality that is fantastic in every sense. If any of these aspects are attractive to you - you need to read this one! Be prepared to be immersed in a world that is ours... but not. Ms. Showalter excels at completely fabricating a world that feels so similar to ours you can't help but believe the extraordinary items, happenings and situations. Such fun to read!
I have loved previous books by this author and true to the writer I know her to be I absolutely loved this story. We are getting a world that is basically going from one place in time to the future. With Gods of war finding regular everyday average humans. Although a rift and an ice storm nothing gets them out of their contracts. Knox is one kick butt ask questions later warrior. Nothing and no one stands in his way, and he wants no partners until... Enter Vale, a human woman who frees him from the ice he has been a slave to for centuries. We get a ton of action in this book, it's a bloodfest of sorts as each player drops. I hope we see more of these players in future books.
It is no spoiler to anyone who has ever read anything I've written about Gena Showalter's books that I love her writing. I love how she crafts her words to bring to life everything and everyone she wants the reader to feel, see, taste, touch, and hear. Gena is one of those rare Writers that gently ease the reader into the experience of her story. She welcomes the reader to journey along with the characters as they trek their world, and often other worlds, in search of who, what, when, where, and why. Gena's newest book is a taste for the senses! Shadow and Ice beckoned me to read about Knox and the predicament they found themselves in. I followed along with Vale as she and Nola trekked the Arctic and was startled with them at the revelation of their discovery. I fought beside, went through peril, wanted to help those I loved, bled for what I thought had betrayed me, and fell in love. Most of all, I didn't want the story to end. Gena did such a great job, enticing me to keep reading despite the distractions around me, I often forgot what I should be doing. As soon as I flipped the last page, I wanted the next book so I could keep reading. This book has it all and I wanted more! I. Needed. More. Gods of War #2 is sure to be brilliant. Gena will once again, tempt me with her incredible command of words and I will (eagerly) wrap my hands around her new book and devour everything she offers. I absolutely, wholeheartedly, and completely love and recommend Shadow and Ice.
When Gena Showalter announced she was writing an entirely new series about alien, Viking people in an eternal war for the earth, I already knew I was all in. Shadow and Ice follows Vale London who gets lost with her foster sister in the Arctic Circle (don't ask), and stumbles upon twenty-ish frozen immortal warriors. To their dismay, the warriors start to break free as the ice melts and Vale is taken by the fiercest and sexiest of them all, Knox of Iviland. Vale is drawn into the All War: A massive war with no time limit and few rules where there can only be one winner, and all the losers die. If I have said it once, I've said it 1000 times, introducing a new paranormal world is really, really difficult for authors. Even authors as seasoned as Ms. Showalter. I did enjoy most of this book. Vale was such a great heroine. She was the perfect balance of fierce and vulnerable. She adapted to the craziness of war WAY better than I would have. Knox was another great character. He had depth, true pain, and for a while I honestly didn't know if he could be redeemed, which was super fun. His inner dialogue had me in stitches. I enjoyed the lack of insta-love. Knox and Vale both have real obstacles both within the war and emotionally that they needed to overcome to be together Just to set the record straight, this book definitely does not end with a cliffhanger for the main couple. This is a romance novel, there is a happily ever after or at least a happily ever for now because, ya know, there is a war going on. This was the first book in a paranormal series so Ms. Showalter was setting the scene for an extensive, overarching story line, i.e., the All War. Are there more questions than answers at the end of the book? Yes. BUT I wasn't dissatisfied with the ending at all. Just putting it out there, this book is violent. If you don't want gratuitous violence and battle scenes, this book is not for you. This is a book about war, and war with immortals means that limbs can fly and they'll still be ok eventually and boy, does Ms. Showalter highlight that. What I think most people will have difficulties with is the insane amount of characters. There are lots of combatants in the All War, and they all have innate powers AND special weapons. My advice, don't try to categorize them too much while you're reading. Just enjoy the story and trust that Ms. Showalter won't let you get too lost. I found myself spending too much time trying to figure out who everyone was and what they did. There is a glossary in the back that you can read at the end, and it really clears things up. The only part I really didn't like in this story was all the details about characters who already died in the war or we only met briefly before they died. Unless they're coming back in later books (which, with paranormal, you never know) I do not care about them. Overall, I really did enjoy this story. Was it the best Gena Showalter book I've ever read? No. But I do think this is setting up to be an exciting series, and I love the fact that I have no idea where any of it is going to go. There is a lot up in the air, and I am excited to see what happens next! **I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
"Shadow and Ice" starts a fantastic new paranormal romance series. Vale is traveling with her foster sister, Nola, before they settle down to open a new business venture, Lady Carrie's (gourmet donuts and elegant party place) when they get lost and their guide abandons them. Eventually running out of food, they venture out into the frozen tundra to seek out civilization. What they find instead is a cave full of gorgeous men and women within the ice. Given the odd appearance of the individuals, they assume they are carvings- that is, until they begin to move and break out of the ice, violently fighting. Vale is captured by the handsome man- Knox of Iviland- she was admiring who takes her to his lair, while Nola is taken by a different man named Zion, who Knox assures her would never hurt a woman. Knox tells Vale that she has stumbled upon an All War. All Wars are set up by an interrealm council when a new realm is discovered. Instead of letting the other realms fight over who will rule the newly discovered realm, an All War is begun. One representative from each realm is sent to fight for dominion. This fight to the death between immortals can only be exited by specific maneuvers (cutting off head, pulling out heart or burning to ash) or the mark of defeat which will take the combatant out alive but result in consequences for their realm. Vale has entered the All War by beheading a contestant. While typically the contestant who does the killing gains the weapons of the killed, Vale has instead absorbed the memories and supernatural abilities of the person she beheaded (in this case a super-strong pheromone and invisibility). Luckily, Knox is willing to help her as she enters this dangerous battle with far-reaching consequences- if she gives up, Earth is on the line. This book sets up a new premise/universe, and as such, there's quite a bit of time devoted to developing these new ideas. However, since there is also a ferocious battle raging, most of the book is devoted to these fights and the steps that will need to be taken to save Earth (Terra). This also means the romance is not the primary focus of the book. That being said, I really did like the couple together. Both of them have their own issues to work through (Vale not really having a family and desperately wanting to make one but finding it hard to trust due to her rough early life with abandonment by her father and a tough life in foster care; Knox with being a slave and relationships being used to manipulate him plus his loss of his daughter who was the only one he let get close). Vale shadows herself in snark and Knox with distance, but they cannot deny the pull between them. I really liked them as a couple, with the few intimate scenes we get (though they are definitely a smaller part of the book considering the violence/action and world-building). Overall, I really enjoyed it and am excited for the series to continue. I wouldn't say there's a huge cliffhanger at the end, the Vale/Knox piece is wrapped up but the overarching stories will rage on. That being said, not everything is tied up with a bow, and it definitely makes me want the next book stat (especially because I think it might feature Nola and I am already invested in her story). I also would like more world (universe?) building in future books. I think we had enough to get what was going on, but I would still love more (especially about the High Council who ruthlessly oversees the All Wars)- it seems so intere
I am a big Gena Showalter fan, so I was excited when I found out she was developing a new series. I was also interested by the subject. I like the concept of warriors from different realms being sent to a planet in a winner takes the planet scenario, in a contest called the All War. In this case, they are fighting for Terra, aka Earth. It is sort of like the Hunger games on a galactic level. The warriors are essentially slaves that are fighting for their rulers. I admit; it took me a couple of chapters to get into the story. I think that often happens with a new series. A lot of ground work needs to be laid out. I enjoyed the characters. Knox of Iviland, mistaken for the god Loki on Earth, is a powerful warrior who wants to win the war to become free and avenge the death of his daughter. He is a hardened and fearless warrior. That is until he meets human Vale London. Vale accidentally becomes a contestant in the All War. Both characters develop a lot throughout the story. Especially Vale, who is thrown into an environment she didn’t know existed. Vale and Knox have great chemistry. I like how they challenge each other. SHADOW AND ICE is skillfully written. The scenes are well described and imaginative. I like that the story starts out on Earth in the past 1026 AA (After Alliance) during Earth’s Vikings and ends up in the present day. This is one of those stories that becomes more riveting as you continue to read it. I am interested in seeing where the series goes. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.