Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Why I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher.  I *may* have done a happy dance when I opened the package.
What it’s about:  (from Goodreads)  Shapeshifter Mercy Thompson’s life is calming down, at least enough that she can focus on mundane matters like Black Friday sales. But on her return, Mercy is unable to contact her mate, Alpha Adam Hauptman, or the other members of their pack. All she knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related – and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from the most unlikely of allies: the vampire seethe.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Patricia Briggs delivers again.  How does she do it?   With every book I get a bit scared that it’s not going to live up to expectations.  And then she blows me away. Again.The intricate plot went unexpected places (why does this surprise me?) and challenged me just enough that I had to concentrate in places but not enough for me to get lost.  Someone kidnaps the wolves (How you ask? Well, there is an explanation and Adam won’t let it happen again, you can be sure of that.) and Mercy is left scrambling to protect those of/associated with the Pack left behind (namely Kyle, Ben, Jesse, Gabriel and his family) and try and locate Adam and the other wolves without creating an interspecies incident which could lead to problems for the Pack.

“Tranq. Arse.”  that one wasn’t as clear, but I could understand him and assumed the last word was a location and not and epithet. Though with Ben it was a risky call.

The bonus for fans of Adam Hauptmann (count me as one) is that there are two (count them! two!) chapters from Adam’s point of view.  I read on the author’s blog some time ago that this was borne out of needing to tell the reader things that Mercy couldn’t know.  I’m glad.  More please.

I love Mercy too, don’t get me wrong.  She gets into trouble often and tends to find herself in the position of having to save the free world, but she’s resourceful and thoughtful and smart.  Adam, for the most part, doesn’t rescue her (usually because she’s managed it before he has a chance to) so his Alpha-ness doesn’t outshine or outstrip her, while at the same time, he is always the Alpha.  That’s clever.   Adam is the Pack Alpha.  He’s also resourceful, thoughtful and smart.  He is not made weak by Mercy (excepting in the sense that his love for her makes him vulnerable) and she, for all his great strength, is not made weak by him.

Adam’s pain was a roar in my heart, and I was going to make everyone who hurt him pay and pay. 

After I finished, I pondered, even with two chapters from Adam’s POV, how I could be so convinced of Adam’s huge and ferocious love for Mercy when Briggs uses so few words to tell me.  Even when we were in Adam’s head, it wasn’t all “I love Mercy so much” – there was stuff going on.  Partly, I think it’s because Mercy, who is snarky and smart and slow to build faith and trust, completely believes in Adam and his love for her – she’s not prone to mushy sentiment so when she says something a little on the romantic side, it means something.  But the rest, I think, is Briggs’ talent.  I am completely convinced that Adam would move the world for Mercy.  I am completely convinced Mercy would do the same for him.  But the book isn’t full of hearts and flowers.  It is an urban fantasy with a romantic element.  There is no romantic conflict in Adam and Mercy’s relationship in this story (as was the case in the previous book as well) – the conflict is all external and there is plenty of it.  The romance thread is woven so neatly through the book that as a romance reader I was completely satisfied.  How does she do that?

I did have a couple of niggles – there were some really long and convoluted sentences in the book. I had to re-read on occasion because sometimes when  reach the end of a sentence, I’d forgotten the beginning of it.   I’m looking forward to listening to the book because I think it will be easier to understand that way – in fact, I read a few sentences aloud to myself.

And, while Bran sent help (in the form of Asil), he was absent from the book, as was Samuel (and Charles).  Which was kind of odd. Asil felt a little under-utilised in terms of plot – I kept expecting that there would be more for him to do than there was.

But they are fairly small niggles.  Like I said, this book blew me away.  I can’t wait to listen to the audio.  In fact, when I can carve out some time, I suspect there will be a whole series re-listen on the agenda.

The only reason it took me a few days to read the book was because I savoured and re-read some passages just for the pleasure of it.   Just excellent.

What else?  For readers new to the series.  Don’t start here.  Start at Moon Called (scroll down for the review) and have all the other books available for reading (or listening) immediately after.  (Ask Kat from Book Thingo – that’s what happened to her. Same thing happened to me actually.)  It will be no hardship.  Trust me.
Grade: A-

Frost Burned releases March 5.

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