Frederick Snow, first footman, is the perfect servant: efficient, hardworking, and completely bereft of emotion. Unbeknownst to his employers, he's the lost Duke of Snowmont, on the run from a suspicious stepfather and a powerful magic he can only control by burying his passions beneath his frosty demeanor. He's managed to hide behind his carefully ordered life until an impertinent miss arrives and challenges everything he thought he wanted.
If Charlotte Erlwood wants to land a wealthy, titled husband at her great aunt's house party, she has to stop losing her temper – especially with inordinately handsome footmen. Perhaps if she recruits Frederick for her matrimonial schemes, she'll be able to direct her attention toward suitable single noblemen and away from inappropriate dalliances. But Frederick's frigid control is no match for Charlotte's irrepressible spirit, and her passionate kiss could summon the darker side of his magic...or wake his heart from its frozen sleep.
About the Author
Elizabeth Vail is a literary critic, essayist, and freelance writer who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her unending love for reading and writing (particularly fairy tales) led her to pursue an English Degree at the University of Alberta with a minor in Comparative Literature, where she focused on historical novels and children's literature. Since 2004 she has reviewed novels, both for publications such as The Green Man Review and her own blog, Gossamer Obsessions (gossamerobsessions.blogspot.com). Her other interests include eating regularly and sleeping in a warm bed, so during the day she works in administrative support. The Duke of Snow and Apples is her debut novel.
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The Duke of Snow and Apples
By Elizabeth Vail, Terese Ramin
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Elizabeth Vail
All rights reserved.
Charmant Park, Allmarch 20th Day of the Month of Soil, Year 556 After the Fey
"Time is short, Freddy, and you're the only man who can help us."
Frederick Snow, standing to attention before Mr. Lutter's desk, gave a brusque nod.
"Do you know how long her ladyship has been waiting for this day? Ten years. Too long, my boy." Mr. Lutter looked up, his eyes full of intent. "This is your task now. You are our first, our best, and I expect you to act like it."
Frederick nodded again. Trepidation trembled somewhere in the back of his throat, but he did not let it show on his face. "I will, sir."
"Very good." With a sigh, the portly house steward abandoned his melodramatic air and collapsed back into his seat, causing the wood to creak in protest. "One of these days her ladyship's house parties will be the death of me."
Normally the house steward ruled justly over an ordered kingdom of paper, leather, dust, and glass, but today his kingdom looked to Frederick like it had undergone a very messy and disorganized coup. His desk overflowed with paperwork and open ledgers, and his every movement threatened to send another few sheets fluttering to the floor. Here and there the feathered end of a lost quill stuck out from the pile like a pagan burial marker.
"Cook's threatened to quit twice already, and if our Salaman thinks I haven't noticed how much gin he imbibes before summoning salamanders to heat the extra guest rooms, then he's very much mistaken."
"Of course," said Frederick. He understood the language of work, the steady cadence of labor that thrummed in the calloused palms of his hands and the tense cords of his back.
"Now that her ladyship's cherished grandniece, Miss Erlwood, has decided to attend — her first visit after a very long absence — Lady Balrumple wants to ensure the girl receives the utmost in service and care. This includes a personal footman assigned to her side. We need our very best footman, and that would be you."
What could Frederick do other than nod? His scalp itched under his powdered white wig.
Mr. Lutter paused. "This is a very great responsibility. I don't think I need to tell you how much we've appreciated your years of service, so just let me say that patience and hard work are always rewarded at Charmant Park."
Frederick nodded again, his chin brushing against the folds of a cravat that suddenly seemed tighter than usual. When Mr. Lutter looked at him, he might see a young man of five-and-twenty eager to move out of livery and boot polish and into the upper responsibilities over silver and plate. How could Frederick convince him otherwise? Livery was simpler. Frederick preferred simpler.
Before Mr. Lutter could add anything further, someone tapped at the door. It opened to reveal the small figure of the steward's room footman, who darted in and handed a sealed note to Mr. Lutter. "It came by sylph, sir."
"Excellent!" Mr. Lutter cried. He opened and scanned the slip of paper. "Miss Charlotte Erlwood has arrived at the coaching inn."
* * *
Frederick leapt off the footman's platform at the back of the carriage after it pulled to a stop outside the Fire and Feather inn. Once inside the snug building, he paused to absorb the wine-spiced warmth before proceeding to the inn's tidy parlor.
Miss Charlotte Erlwood, her ladyship's grandniece, perched in an armchair by the fire, emanating waves of affront like a princess left in a pigsty. She wore a muted, dove-colored pelisse and her honey-brown hair pulled into a tight knot at the back of her head. On a small table in front of her lay the remains of a small luncheon and an uneaten apple. Behind her, an exasperated-looking manservant stood at attention.
Upon Frederick's arrival, she turned toward him, revealing a pinched mouth and a pair of thundercloud eyebrows riding low over narrowed eyes. She scanned him from the top of his wigged head to the bottom of his boots, and her frowning lips stretched and tightened, her brows descended lower, and a slight blush reddened her cheeks.
She looked angry.
She looked spoiled.
She looks in need of a good teasing. Somewhat surprised with the mischievous turn of his thoughts, Frederick squashed it and kept his face neutral, his mouth set in a straight line.
"Miss Charlotte Erlwood?"
"Oh no." She shook her head. "No, not you."
Frederick blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
"You're not here for me. You're here for somebody else."
"Are you not Miss Charlotte Erlwood?"
The girl gave a hard, bitter laugh. "Of course you're here for me. I don't know why I expected any different."
An old, moth-eaten shade of indignation rose up in Frederick's mind, a remnant from when he still felt insulted by anything. "Have I done something to displease you?" Charlotte released a melodramatic sigh. "You're blue."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Look at you!" she said, waving an arm at his livery. "Blue coat, blue jacket, yellow waistcoat. You're positively sunny. A happy, sunny bluebird, all sparkling and cheerful. Does nobody in Allmarch care how I feel?"
Frederick's well of rational responses ran dry. Behind Charlotte, her manservant shrugged.
Charlotte seemed to take his silence as agreement, and jabbed an accusing finger out the window, at a picturesque view of Charmant village shops in the chill autumn sunlight. "Look out there! Isn't it the most beautiful day we've had in Soil month? Today, of all days! It's unfair. It's unseemly."
"Pardon me, miss, but what would be seemly?"
"A rainstorm," she said. "A choking blizzard that keeps everyone shivering at home in their beds. Clouds, gloominess, something that isn't bloody sunny!"
That mischievous quiver at the back of his mind tickled him, and he caught himself before he uttered an apology for the weather's rudeness.
"Your carriage is ready," he said.
"I gathered that," she said, with poor grace.
This was the long-lost grandniece Lady Balrumple was excited to see? The girl treated a visit to her loving relation with all the excitement of a tooth-pulling.
Miss Charlotte rose, pocketed her apple, and dismissed her manservant. After Frederick led her outside and handed her into the carriage, he signaled to Shipley, the coachman, that he needed help with the lady's luggage. Shipley slid a glance over his shoulder at Miss Charlotte and rolled his eyes, and Frederick almost smiled. Almost. He'd trained himself too well to give into emotions around his betters.
When Shipley and Frederick returned from the inn carrying the last heavy trunk, they discovered Charlotte standing beside the carriage, favoring them once again with her unpleasant mood. She held her apple, now with a crisp, white bite taken out of it, and passed it from hand to hand.
"Tell me," she said to Shipley. "How does it look like the weather will fare?"
"Last time we summoned the sylphs, the wind-sprites said we's to have fine weather all week," said the coachman, cheerful and oblivious. "Uncommon fine. Clear and sunny."
Charlotte's hands clenched, her fingernails cutting pale half-moons into the apple's red peel. Frederick's throat tightened — not from stress, but rather an urge to laugh. He coughed instead, hoping the girl wouldn't notice.
As he turned back to help secure the last of the luggage, something hard and round struck the back of his head and bounced to the ground. Pain blossomed at the base of his skull. Frederick lost his grip on the trunk, and dropped it with a heavy thunk.
He whirled around, but there was no one by the carriage except for Miss Charlotte. Her hands dangled nervously at her sides while she stared off in another direction, wearing an expression of innocence marred by a fiery blush.
He should have kept his head down and said nothing. Upperfolk were entitled to whims and fancy. However, the combination of the schooled blankness of Miss Charlotte's face and the pain throbbing at the back of his head sent something hot and misguided up and out of his throat.
"Did you just hit me with a rock?"
"No," said Charlotte, avoiding his eyes.
"Did you just hit me with a rock?"
"You hit me with a rock!"
"It wasn't a rock!" Charlotte brought her wandering gaze back to his. Fortifying herself with a haughty sniff, she said, "I hit you with an apple."
Sure enough, a few feet away lay a dusty, browning apple, significantly bruised on one side.
After an awkward pause, she sniffed again and held out her hand. "I would like to get back into the carriage now."
Wordlessly, thanks to a complete lack of understanding rather than proper footman etiquette, Frederick took Charlotte's hand and helped her up into the carriage. As she settled in on the squabs, she sniffed again. Her nose was red. Funny how Frederick had missed that before.
"Are you in need of a handkerchief?" he asked.
"No, thank you." She produced one from her reticule, a crumpled, damp square of fabric. Sniff.
Guilt jabbed, sharp and surprising, behind his rib cage.
"May I get you anything? A blanket? A hot salamander-bottle?"
"A salamander-bottle, if you please."
Frederick went around to the boot and gingerly took out a sealed earthenware jar. With a few sharp jerks, he shook it, and felt the vibrations inside the jug as the tiny fire-elementals quivered to wakefulness, and the jar grew warm in his hands.
As Frederick went back around the side of the carriage, a fancy struck him. Normally, his professional duty was to dodge fancy and sentiment and maintain a respectful demeanor. Perhaps the blow from that apple had slowed his instincts, for one such fancy caught him in the heart, making the palms of his hands itch and an unprofessional idea take root in his brain.
He knocked on the door of the carriage and helped settle the hot salamander-bottle under Charlotte's feet. Then he fished into his pocket and deposited a large, grayish-brown stone in her lap.
"Should it please you to hit me with something harder," said Frederick.
After a long pause, Charlotte said, "Thank you — it would have been most inconvenient to bend down and pick up one myself. The road is so dusty."
And then she laughed.
It was like watching a military fortress open its gates at the end of a long and bitter war, the portcullis rising, windows opening, light and air and music leaking out. Charlotte's thundercloud eyebrows flew upward, leaving her wide eyes, the color of warm brandy, sparkling and undefended. Her lips, released from their tight frown, curled naturally up at the edges like old paper. Her laugh, melodic and surprisingly loud, overpowered the carriage's cramped interior.
The change in Charlotte's appearance struck Frederick into stillness, even as long-ignored, dusty sections of his heart started squirming and shifting, woken into movement. Frederick's gaze dropped to her lips and noticed one corner quirked up higher than the other. He felt a surprising clench in his gut as his mind narrowed down to the single, focused thought that if he kissed that one corner enough it would shift back in place and behave ... The idea sent ribbons of heat and music spiraling into his brain to burn behind his eyes.
"Are we all right to go, then?" Shipley called.
Frederick jerked up and caught Charlotte's glance for a startled instant, and he saw colors about her head, the last vestiges of angry red, sad violet, and a glimmer of cheerful green, before he yanked his gaze away, appalled. He scrunched his eyes shut, cutting off the flow of his power. He hadn't meant to let it out.
Pull it back, he willed. Pull it all back. He imagined snow and cold and silence, and he tried to distract himself with the immediately physical — the irritating weight of his wig, the pull of his gloves, the crunch of dead leaves beneath his boot. With a coldly professional demeanor, he bowed to Miss Charlotte and closed the carriage door. He let the dangerously tempting heat of his power draw back from his eyes, and he slowly regained control.
"You all right?" asked the coachman.
"I'm fine." Frederick clambered back onto the footman's platform at the back of the coach, letting the cold autumn wind wash over him, giving him a physical shiver to match the quivering in his gut. Careless, stupid, what was he doing? Dropping his guard in front of a girl, a spoiled-fruit-throwing miss, a woman he barely knew. A girl whom he would have to shadow for the rest of the house party, waiting on her every whim.
It was going to be a very long week.CHAPTER 2
What a silly chit I am, thought Charlotte, as the carriage jangled and bumped toward Charmant Park. She'd spent the last several days clutching anger to her heart, letting its prickles and sharp edges scratch and tear at her with every movement. Anger was sharper than defeat, harder than despair. Anger had its uses, whereas misery only left her as damp and wrinkled as her wretched handkerchief.
And in the span of only a few minutes, an upstart footman had stolen her anger away.
What foolishness. Throwing an apple at a servant. Thank goodness no one of consequence had seen her. What might they have thought?
She hefted the rock he'd left in her lap. She shouldn't have hit him, but she hadn't been able to help herself. She'd been sitting in that inn, stewing over how her life was falling apart, as all her ordered plans dissolved into hopeless dreams, and in had walked that footman. Tall and professional and collected, as if nothing in his life ever strayed beyond the expected. In truth, it had galled her to think a servant had an easier time of it than her.
He had an odd face for a footman. So ... distinctive. What a ridiculous thought. All footmen had faces — she'd just never had an opportunity to truly look a footman in the face before. From a distance, he looked fit and sleek in his bright livery, identical to every footman in existence. In the confines of the carriage, a stone in his hand, she'd noticed his dark, inky eyebrows that contrasted sharply with the powdered paleness of his wig, a strong, slightly crooked nose, and eyes ...
What sort of a footman has eyes like that? Sudden warmth rose to her face, and she shifted her feet away from the salamander-bottle. Eyes of a clear, flawless azure like a lake in summer, rimmed with lush, dark lashes. For one moment in that carriage, they'd even seemed to glow. Beautiful eyes. Such an utter waste they should be found in a footman's face.
But such was life. Nothing went as it should.
Reminded again of her troubles and what she would have to do to set her life to rights, she looked out the window, searching for the first signs they were approaching Charmant Park. She hadn't visited her great-aunt since she was ten years old. She dimly remembered great stands of cherry trees flashing past the carriage in bursts of fragrant pink froth, and a mansion that had seemed like a Fey palace. Doubtless now that she was a grown woman of twenty, the estate would seem much smaller.
The carriage topped the rise and rumbled along a road guarded by black-barked trees clawing the air with dark, empty branches. Even bereft of foliage, those trees drew Charlotte back into memories of her girlhood, and as she caught sight of Charmant Park, unexpected joy rose in her chest like a puff of warm steam.
Thanks to generations of renovation-minded owners, Charmant Park represented a battle between six or seven architectural styles, frozen in time in honey-brown stone, red brick, pink stucco, and white marble. Turrets warred with flying buttresses, pediments sneered at porticos, chimneys dueled with jagged spires, and columns sprouted everywhere, oblivious to the chaos.
The carriage pulled up at the entrance, in front of a full regiment of male servants standing at attention in blue and gold livery. A heartwarmingly familiar woman stood at their head. She wore her snow-white hair teased into youthful curls beneath a massive yellow turban sprouting feathers from at least half a dozen birds.
Excerpted from The Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth Vail, Terese Ramin. Copyright © 2014 Elizabeth Vail. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. This book had great characters and a great plot. I had a hard time putting this book down.
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 3 stars Honestly I started reading this, got five pages in, decided that the girl was bratty and I stopped. I eventually went back and I am glad that I did. I didn’t have a moment while I was reading it where I was like “This is good”. Instead it was more “That was good” once I actually finished. The girl got less annoying as the book progressed, but it did take a while. She is a character that you have to have patience with. I still didn’t totally like her by the end, but she was tolerable. One thing to note is that this is a CLEAN romance. None of certain scenes. Also while I thought it was a historical romance, its not. Not really. Its more like the children of fairies and humans in a weird timeline that you won’t understand. I really wish there had been a prologue or something explaining all of this. I was thoroughly confused throughout the book because I didn’t think the back history of the people was explained well. The guy was a complete martyr to the point that he got annoying. His self-loathing was intense and completely unjustified. I just wanted him to own what he was instead of having all that self-hatred. I don’t want you to think I didn’t like this book. I did. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I would have been ok if I had paid for this, but I don’t think I would read another book in this series.
Reading fairy tales retellings is one of my favourite things in the world... ....when they are well executed. And yes, that's what happened here! First of all, this is much more than a (lol) Snow White/Cinderella fairy tale retelling. This is a Three In One! (...first book I've ever read that managed to make a whimsical and apparently impossible genre conjugation work!) _Fairy Tale Retelling; _Historical Romance; _Fantasy. And it works flawlessly!! That story's first page is/was...(wow.)..masterfully written. Here was I, thinking that I was reading something entirely different, and all of a sudden I get hit with a sylph! People started talking about salamanders and sylphs, and I was: I am sorry...what?? Isn't this an historical romance? It is! But with a fantasy background to it, which I loved. Brilliant Idea!! The characters I loved the inversion of roles that we see here! It's not everyday _in fact I think this was the first time I ever read something of the type _ that the "classic" Cinderella/damsel in distress role is given to the guy! Besides that, and accordingly to the role performed by Frederick, is is Charlotte who is given the alpha role. She is a force to be reckon! In fact do not trust her around apples! “Did you just hit me with a rock?” “No,” said Charlotte, avoiding his eyes. “Did you just hit me with a rock?” “No.” “You hit me with a rock!” “It wasn’t a rock!” Charlotte brought her wandering gaze back to his. Fortifying herself with a haughty sniff, she said, “I hit you with an apple.” The plot Interweaving a great number of diverse and well developed characters, _some of them that remind us of other fairy tale characters like the fairy Godmothers or the Huntsman _ with a fresh new fantasy background _the Gnome chase? Loved it! _ the author also didn't forget to insert the expected Cinderella (Snow white) more known elements... There's the expected ball, disguises, and no, the guy doesn't lose one of his shoes...but he does lose something much more important. But Frederick is much more than a ...Cinderella, Snow White or even a Snow Queen, I mean King. And Charlotte is much more than a insignificant prince /princess, heroine taking her time to perform the great rescue. Confession time: I read most of this story, with a big goofy smile on my face _ and I have been steering away from romances in the last couple of months..so that is saying a lot _, but I loved seeing those two as a couple. I loved the way their relationship evolved, and the fact that in that, neither of them were idiots to not see the obstacles in front of them. But then we get to the last third of the story, in which we were supposedly busy trying to figure out something...but then that something is not that difficult to guess. Except to our heroine and hero, (lol) which ends up being not very flattering to them! And that is why I am giving a four, instead of a five star rating to this story ;) To finish: Go...read this book! Spread the word about this book (and pester your friends about it), and most importantly, just be ready to fall in love with this story. Oh, and I've just read on the author's twitter that there is going to be a SEQUEL!! ;)
**I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review** 3 stars Frederick Snow is in hiding from the life he left behind when he was he was 15 years old…away from the terrifying secret he keeps. He has powers…powers that can destroy a person to the point of leaving them as nothing but a shell – the Gray takes over and slowly destroys them, until they die, just like his mother and his gameskeeper, Farnsby. Which is why since then, he has been living a secret and private life as a footman for Lady Balrumple. He keeps his identity and his powers a secret from everyone to protect them from the Gray, and himself. That is until he’s assigned to the long estranged great-niece, Charlotte Erlwood. He is intrigued by the young lady, but ever careful not to become too involved with her, for fear of the Gray. At first she is indignant to him, treating him like a true servant, but she eventually comes to look forward to seeing him – if even just in the dining room or in passing through the halls. As their affections for each other grows, they realize just how careful they need to be – as Charlotte is a lady, and “Freddy” as she calls him, is a lowly servant with nothing to offer her family. So when her sister comes for a visit, along with the Duke of Snowmont and his companion Sir Bertram – and they bring a part of Frederick Snow’s life to light that he thought he’d be safe from…the Gray. But can Frederick love Charlotte and keep her safe from the dreaded Gray? [POSSIBLE SPOILERS} This is a great love story – I really liked how they were willing to give up everything to be together. The problem I had with the story is the “fae powers” that everyone seems to have are never fully explained. People just HAVE them – as they are apparently descendants of the fae – but it’s never explained WHY or HOW they kept the powers, or for that matter, what exactly Fredrick’s powers did. I thought that Charlotte was a strong young lady, looking for her life to begin, and someone to share it even if it means marrying someone that she doesn’t love yet. She wants security and safety…and while Freddy is neither of those things, he still manages to win her heart – but will it be enough? I think with a little improved background, this could be a 5 star book for sure – the story is there, just didn’t quite come together like it could have.
This is not your regular regency type story..In this one everyone has the use of magic to some degree, for everyday things, such as changing hair color, having curls, or making yourself sparkle etc. Fredrick believes his magic is a curse and that it hurt everyone he loved so at 15 he ran away. He takes a job at Charmant Park and has worked there for 10 years working his way up the servants ranks. He's now first footman and chosen to serve Lady Balrumple's favorite niece Charlotte. She threatens his composure to stay 'cold' and away from emotion, so he trys to help her attract a husband as fast as possible. They end up becoming friends and feeling easier in each others company. Fredrick's stepfather shows up with the new 'Duke' and he's finally unmasked. There's confusion, a mystery to solve, an engagement, hurt feelings and a rescue.This is a good story but it took me a little to get into it....some phrases and descriptions were confusing at first.The characters are interesting and this has an interesting twist on the typical type of 'regency'. Good basic story line
Frederick Snow is the first footman at Charmant Park. He does his job efficiently and with no emotion. That is until he meets Miss Charlotte Erlwood. She is running away from her sister who is now engaged to the man she wanted. Frederick is running away from his responsibility and his magic. Are they fated to be together? Elizabeth Vail wrote a very inventive story. I loved the way she mixed magic with a regency setting. The trolls and the wind-sprites added to the mystic feel. Freddy and Charlotte bond even though he is a servant and she is one of the Pure Blooded. Their banter was touching and made me care for them. The plot had some surprising twists that I didn't expect. Elizabeth Vail wrote a great story that combined a passionate romance with a magical realm. The Duke of Snow and Apples was a nice change of pace. I loved this book.
Frederick has been hiding as a servant for many years. He is actually a Duke but he must hide from those that would see him harm and use his powers. He has a powerful magic but does not use it as it could take a life. He just wants to live his life and do his job but when he meets Charlotte that all changes. She is there to find a husband and at first treats Freddie as she calls him awful. She then decides to use him to help her land a rich husband. They two gradually begin to care for each other. A person from Frederick's past shows and they both will have to use their powers to keep Frederick's powers from killing someone. This was an enjoyable story that I liked. I didn't love it as I could not connect to the characters. I liked Frederick more than I did Charlotte. He just wants to keep his power under control and not hurt anyone. Charlotte at the beginning is to me rude, snobby and seems to have many sides. She is selfish at times but then wen around some people she throws on the charm to try and get what she wants. She does have a change in her actions later in the book. I just never did grow to love her. It seems all in this book have some kind of power and I liked the magical part of the book. there also wasn't any instant love and fall right into bed and that was great as well. If you like fairy tale retellings you may enjoy this one.
Set in a magical land reminiscent of Regency England, Frederick Snow has served Lady Balrumple of Charmant Park for over ten years, keeping a tight rein on his thoughts, emotions, and magical abilities. But when he meets Lady Balrumple’s grandniece, Charlotte Erlwood, that infamous control comes crashing down. Spirited, intelligent, and a little selfish, Charlotte stirs Frederick’s long-suppressed emotions. As Charlotte and Frederick begin forming an unlikely friendship, others gather close to Charmant Park. Others that could expose Frederick’s secret and threaten the peaceful life he has built in Lady Balrumple’s service. Once Charlotte and the other guests learn his secret, will they ever look at him the same way again? In a refreshing twist, Frederick Snow is actually the focal point and primary character in this romance. As a footman serving in the household of Lady Balrumple, Frederick is handsome and able to perform an array of necessary duties that keep Charmant Park running smoothly. He keeps his thoughts and opinions to himself and his emotions behind a wall of ice. But instead of coming across as broody or boring, Frederick is actually quite passionate and sympathetic. As a reader, we see the emotions bubbling under the surface and Frederick’s struggle to keep those emotions (and accompanying magical powers) under control. He quietly supports Charlotte from behind the scenes while battling his own inner demons and we can’t help but root for him as he learns more about his powers, his family, and Charlotte. Charlotte is, unfortunately, another story. Charlotte was very difficult to sympathize with at first. In fact, I outright disliked her for at least the first quarter of the book. Actions and traits Frederick found charming, I found selfish and borderline abusive. Thankfully, as she began to relax and open up to Frederick, she became a more charming character. Selfishness turned into loyalty and a feisty personality. I really wish we could have seen that side of Charlotte earlier in the book, but it certainly made for a wonderful character growth story. By the end, I liked Charlotte and believed she was now the person who deserved someone like Frederick. The magical elements to the story were unexpected, but enjoyable. While it certainly places this story in the realm of fantasy, the magical elements are not so overwhelming that you’ve got to flip back and forth to figure out what’s happening. Rather, it provides the backdrop for an essential plot point and then is largely there for comic relief. There were times I even forgot this was supposed to be a magical realm. The Duke of Snow and Apples is certainly different from the typical romance novel. Something akin to Regency England meets Walt Disney-style fairytales. Very enjoyable. I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review