Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Outgoing Aster has no trouble meeting people. His job has him discussing details of the newest sex toys with ease, but he can’t find the right man. Aster longs for a Dom, someone that he can give his heart and body to, along with his trust. While on a trip to Montreal, Aster meets Vanor, a man who is everything Aster thinks he has ever wanted. Vanor wants Aster to trust him and gives him a trusted safeword, “winter,” as they spend one extraordinary night together. But in the morning, Vanor disappears right before Aster’s eyes. With no choice and no idea what is going on, Aster goes home to Vermont.

It’s months later and Aster simply cannot forget Vanor. It’s then that Vanor appears in the middle of a snowstorm, naked and freezing, but he can’t stay. Two men also appear to take Vanor away and Vanor has no free will and no choice but to go with them. It’s not long before Aster learns of another world that humans aren’t supposed to see. A world that may call to Aster for many reasons and a world from which he needs to save Vanor, so they can share they life they so desperately want together.

For New-to-Me Author Week in our Reading Challenge Month, I did well in this first challenge. M. Raiya writes an intriguing tale, with flowing, sensual prose; intriguing characters; and a unique story.

Aster and Vanor spend one night together and their connection is remarkable for having just met. Vanor is everything Aster has ever wanted; he wants his own Dom, he wants to submit, and he longs for a special connection. He cannot figure out how Vanor is taking charge the way he is, but he’s too caught up in the moment to give it too much thought.

Aster is an interesting character. He overcame bullying in school and now he wears his hair how he wants, wears the clothes he wants, and wearing makeup sometimes is all just part of his appeal. He is now living life on his own terms, but he certainly wants a man of his own. And, Aster is stronger than even he knows, and he is the true hero of the book.

The original appeal of this story for me was the mention of Vanor inexplicably disappearing. The book is fairly well layered and Raiya keeps the intrigue high by not only giving out just a little information at a time, but by also adding more to all Aster has to absorb and adapt to. The intimate scenes between Aster and Vanor added a bit of D/s, but were also descriptive, sensual, and evocative in tone. There’s not much else I would be willing to explain about this book in detail in order for other readers to come in with a fresh perspective.

When the world Vanor lives in is revealed, I needed more. I needed more throughout the entire book from him, his father, and several other areas that I can’t call out. I needed to know a lot more specifics of what happened to Vanor when he disappeared, and I needed much more detail on Vanor’s full history to truly pull this all together for me. The ending as well, with Vanor, seemed to fold in on itself and I needed more there as well. Again, I can’t call it all out, but I needed more world building and more justice. But, there were many parts that I did enjoy, specifically the characters. And, if M. Raiya were to write another book in this series, as there is still a lot to explore, I would be all in and would also look into any future releases from this author.

This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-To-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of six $20 gift cards to NineStar Press. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-To-Me Author Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.