Narrator: Robert Nieman
Length: 2 hours, 49 minutes
Vixen enjoys the fame and attention he gets from being one of the Rein Dear. He particularly enjoys his popularity with the handsome toy soldiers. Vixen likes fun and merriment and seems to be the wild one among the Rein Dear, particularly when compared to his responsible friend Rudy. Everything seems to be come so easily to Rudy, and although he cares for his friend, Vixen can’t help but be jealous. Especially now that Rudy is serious with Jack Frost and has captured the heart of a prince, something Vixen has always dreamed about.
Jack may be off the market, but his handsome cousin Vale is still available, and Vale has made it clear he is interested in Vixen. Vixen pursues Vale, not expecting much from the quiet, reserved toy soldier other than a connection to the monarchy. But as it turns out, Vale charms Vixen with his kindness and warmth, really seeing Vixen and the person he is inside. Vixen finds himself falling for Vale and actually imagining a real future with him, something that the partying elf never thought he would want. But Vixen still can’t help his jealousy and lets it get the better of him, right when it matters the most. Vixen’s foolishness could lead to real harm for Vale, as well as for the kingdom. Now he has to figure out how to clean up his mess and prove to Vale that he is someone with whom Vale can entrust his heart.
Vixen’s Valor is the third book in Cochet’s North Pole City Tale series and it is my favorite so far. All the stories take place in North Pole City in a magical world where the Christmas story comes to life. Vixen is one of the famous Rein Dears, beloved by all and pilots for the “big flight.” Vale is a member of the elite Frost family, a toy soldier and nephew to the Frost King. Along the way we meet other elves, Rein Dear, and magical creatures that fill out the holiday story.
What I really enjoyed about this story is how nicely it combined the fantasy elements with the relationship building and the conflict at the end. While I felt to some extent the first two books leaned more one way or the other, this book balanced all these elements really well and felt nicely developed for a novella-length story. I enjoyed the contrast of Vixen and Valor together, with the party boy finding himself smitten with the more reserved solider. I did feel we missed a bit of the beginning for these guys, as in the story they seemed to just begin dating, but there was also a sense of a more established history between them that I wasn’t really clear about. But they are so sweet and tender together and I loved watching Vixen really fall for Vale rather than his title. I also think we get a nicely developed conflict here. Vixen starts out just interested in hooking up with royalty and we see he often puts his own self interest before others. But when he lets his jealousy lead him into trouble, he is quick to accept responsibility and do what needs to be done to fix his mistakes. This book nicely ties in with plot threads from earlier in the series, but still could stand alone nicely.
I listened to this one in audio and for the most part enjoyed narrator Robert Nieman. I wavered a bit on the rating because I did find his voice pleasant and his pacing good. Although the characters use largely the same voices, I could tell who was speaking. However, Nieman has a tendency to pause at inapproriate places and to put emphasis in the wrong spots, making listening to him often very jarring. Interestingly, I just looked up my review for another Nieman-narrated story (Clear Water) and saw I had the exact same comments, so this is apparently a recurring issue. Once I noticed the problem as I was listening, it was hard to ignore and I found myself taken out of the story over and over in confusion over the odd pause or inflection. I am not sure it was troubling enough to avoid books by this narrator, as again, I find his voice pleasant and entertaining. But I would suggest checking out a sample audio to see how you feel about it.
Overall I found this story lots of fun and a great addition to the series. Now that I am all caught up, I am looking forward to reading this year’s installment.
Cover Review: Once again, great cover for this series. Really beautiful and it fits nicely with the story.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.