Rating: 3 stars
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Noah Goldwin is in shock when his aunt informs him of his father’s death. Arranging for time off from his pediatric residency, Noah immediately flies home to Miami for his father’s funeral. Coming face to face with his spiteful brother after the funeral, Noah didn’t expect his cold animosity. Even more, he didn’t expect his brother to reveal that Noah was found and adopted as a baby.
After his adoption is confirmed by his favorite aunt, Noah feels lost, not knowing who he is or what to do next. He’s never really fit in with his family, that much was obvious. His father saw him as a disappointment and his brother saw him as a waste of time and space. Only his mother saw him as something more, but after she died, that didn’t matter.
When his aunt gives him a ring that was found on him when he was discovered all those years ago, Noah feels oddly drawn to the object. After he puts it on, he has a vision of a beautiful man who has apparently been searching for him. But it is only a vision and soon he leaves Noah with a mission to follow his heart in order to find him. With only the strange ring and the lake in Canada where his mother found him as clues, Noah sets out to find the beautiful man known as Ataro.
At five years of age, Ataro discovered that the psychic birth link he shared with his psychic partner had been broken. Soon after, he found out that his psychic partner was in a dimension parallel to Khinan, his home planet. And although he was encouraged to find a new partner, Ataro always knew that he would find his original fated partner.
Twenty-seven years after the break, Ataro is still inexplicably drawn to the frozen falls at Fox Lake as he has been for the past twelve years. Only this year, there’s something different. Linking to Noah in an alternate dimension, Ataro uses that link to finally bring his fated psychic partner into his world.
After figuring out that they not only share a working psychic link but are life partners as well, the strong attraction between Noah and Ataro serves to help restore their link. But just as they are learning their new psychic abilities together, they discover that Noah’s abduction from Khinan as an infant may have been part of a bigger plot by someone close to Ataro.
I’ve been trying to think of the right words to describe this story because I liked the foundation, but it was lacking in so many ways. Like I said, the idea behind the story is a good one. I’m all about a good science fiction story, especially one with a new and original twist, and this story is definitely new and original. But there are too many overlooked details, timing issues, and questions that, in the end, sadly left me wanting.
Noah and Ataro are strong, likable characters. I especially felt for Noah because, bless his heart, he was a fish out of water when it came to his hateful father and brother. Only once he meets Ataro does he begin discovering who he really is, finally feeling a purpose. Ataro is a rock. He’s caring, understanding, and supportive – everything that Noah needs.
Their relationship is one of instant attraction, not instant love so much. I like them as a couple, but could have used more development of their relationship. They obviously belonged together and instantly trusted each other because of the psychic link they share, but I would have liked to see more of the learning about one another that led to the eventual I love yous.
Also, there were a couple timing issues, and if you know me even a little, you know that’s my biggest pet peeve. First, Ataro’s age comes into question in the confusion of the flashbacks. He says he was five when the psychic link was broken, so when he decided to join the guard, he would have actually been seventeen and not fifteen as stated in the story. Then, after Noah receives the ring from his aunt he states that it took him a couple weeks to find Ataro, but then says that he only received the ring a few hours ago. They are small details, but details that could have been easily corrected.
I am also sorely disappointed in the ending. The antagonist of the story committed horrible crimes, but gave no real reason as to why he did it and how he even knew of the birth link between Ataro and Noah. It is both confusing and frustrating. Also, I was bothered by Noah not really making any sort of contact with his birth family. I felt that he had been through enough; he really deserved to be happy with a family of his own in the end.
I liked the world of Khinan. Cold and snowy, though it may be, it seemed to be lovely. I wish that it had been better developed, as well. The environmental issues, the advanced technology, the description of the actual world all could have been more defined.
I understand that this story is part of an anthology and is only allowed a certain amount of words, but I feel that had this been longer and if details were ironed out or added it could have been a really good story. But as it is, for me, it was just okay.
Winter Challenge is part of the Sins of Winter anthology published by Total e-Bound.