THE REVIEW: Wildest dreams by Kristen Ashley

wildest dreamsFantasyland Series book one

Genre Romantic Fantasy Published 15 August 2011 Publisher Self-published

Seoafin “Finnie” Wilde was taught by her parents that life was meant to be lived, every breath was a treasure and to seek every adventure she could find. And she learns this lesson the hard way when they perish in a plane crash when she’s fifteen. But she never forgets and when she discovers there is a parallel universe where every person has a twin, she finds a witch who can send her there so she can see her parents again and have the adventure of a lifetime.

But nearly upon arrival in the Winter Wonderland of Lunwyn, she realizes she’s been played by her twin of the alternate universe and shortly finds herself walking down the aisle to be wed to The Drakkar.

Instantly thrown into inauspicious circumstances, with years of practice (she did, of course, survive that elephant stampede, if she could do that, she can do anything), Finnie bests the challenges and digs into her adventure. But as Frey Drakkar discovers the woman who is his new wife is not Princess Sjofn, a woman he dislikes (intensely) but instead, his Finnie, a free-spirit with a thirst for venture just like him (not to mention she is his destiny), without her knowledge he orders his new bride bound to his frozen world, everlasting.

urban book thiefThe Urban Book Thief review

This is a book for readers who like a good swoon. A good ole fashioned adventure romance with some dragons, a lusty prince and a beautiful ice princess thrown in for good measure.

This isn’t normally my kind of book – but I freaking loved it!

It certainly wasn’t because of the editing, dear god no. This is one of Kristen Ashley’s books from before being signed by a publisher, which means no editorial clean-up and sentences long enough to run through a whole paragraph. But the story is so worth it.

Our story begins with adventure junkie Finnie Wilde. Born with the name Seoafin, she’s a bit of a daredevil and loves a sweet, sweet challenge. Unfortunately, her parents died when she was young, leaving her a vast fortune but no family to share it with. Finnie has spent the last fifteen years missing them desperately. So much so, that in chapter one we find her eagerly awaiting to be sent to a parallel universe by a creole witch (say-what?). Paying a million smackeroonies to do it too. To say the least, quite a few characters seem to think that she is pretty crazy for doing this.

“Woman, you transported yourself to a whole ‘nother world not knowin’ where your arse would land or what it would land in. Most women got at least some cockamamie in ‘em but you are head-to-toe cockamamie,”

The premise behind the story is that a parallel universe exists where everyone has a twin. Both worlds are the same in some ways and completely different in others. The other world has magic, talking animals, braw men, scheming royalty, dragons, elves, fab-u-lous couture dresses and most importantly – in this world, Finnie’s parents are alive and well. It’s a no brainer for her. So she organises to spend a year in Fantasyland to have an adventure. Unfortunately, her ‘twin’ Sjofn is not quite so honest about her intentions and dear Finnie finds herself in a wee bit of a pickle after landing right smack in the middle of her own wedding – to the dark and disturbing Drakkar heir. Though handsome and heroic looking, straight after their vows the s.o.b dumps Finnie in an isolated, cold, dirty log cabin and scarpers off to his ship to liberate magical artefacts from his enemies.

Finnie

Finnie

After reading a note from Sjofn it all becomes a little frighteningly clear about what is happening. It appears that Finnie’s twin parents are in fact the King and Queen of Lunwyn, a beautiful snow covered kingdom in the north of the country. Sjofn is their only beloved daughter, nicknamed the Winter Princess and she was forced to marry the Frey Drakkar to secure the next heir to the throne. This marriage would unite the two noble families and complete a prophesy that will bring peace to Lunwyn. Unfortunately, what also becomes clear is that Sjofn has different sexual appetites to Finnie and Frey Drakkar is not keen to start on the baby making with her. Not ever. In order to not ever touch his bits against her bits, he wants to beget an heir on someone who looks similar to her. Good luck with that idea sonny jim, Finnie is a petite beauty with practically white hair and winter blue eyes. Not your average looking chick. Plus, not only do we have this problem but Sjofn and Finnie are like chalk and cheese. Sjofn is cold and aloof, considering archery, sword fighting and wearing breeches to be her favourite things. Finnie is a bit like an excitable puppy that you have to watch carefully so that she doesn’t pee all over your new carpet. She’d rather go shopping, giggle with her besties and play a round of poker in the local.

“By the gods, I hope you never lose your wonder for all that is life, my wee Finnie.”

“Well, as long as I’m in a world with fire breathing dragons, magical elves, hot guys who are impervious to extreme heat and fantastic ships straight out of a movie that are named after me, I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” I told him and his head tilted to the side.

“Straight out of a what?”

I cupped his jaw, lifted my head and touched my mouth to his.

Then I dropped my head back down to the pillow and whispered, “I’ll explain later.”

Clearly, poor Sjofn was not keen on marrying Frey and to escape the torture of living with such a masculine man – she pulls a runaway bride, parallel universe stylie. Finnie though, tries to make the best of a bad situation.

And as I did, I knew I had two choices, struggle against the quicksand only to have it slurp me up to bury me straight to the throat or move the fuck on and have some fun, fun which would undoubtedly suck me deeper anyway but, again, I wasn’t all fired up to save myself from going down.

I picked door number two.

Finnie is genuine and sweet. She wants to make everyone like her and doesn’t seem to have a bad bone in her body. So… it’s not that I don’t trust people who are inherently good, no – I take that back. I just don’t trust anyone who is inherently good. Everyone has their bad bits. Where the bloody hell were hers? I love the story and the characters but Finnie did slightly skim the surface of Mary Sue-ism. Though, it could definitely be said that she is a little self-absorbed – easily done I imagine if you find yourself cast in the role of a princess in a magical kingdom…

Frey Drakka

Frey Drakka

The Frey Drakaar is why I like this book. He’s a roguish sweetheart with a heart of gold underneath his bristly exterior. Plus, I imagine he wears leather breeches very well – well he does in my head. The Drakkar is also a fan of hallucinogenic sexy-times tree bark. Yes ladies, more of that please. A lot more. He’s one of those possessive characters who’d like to live in a world where he can shout mine at other men who come sniffing around his wife. But oh yeah – he kinda actually does. He also has a mean, evil family who don’t appreciate him: so it’s open season for ladies who can catch his eye and lap up all that love and affection he’s been storing for the last twenty years (me! me!). Frey also commands both the elves and the dragons. Not one man has had the power to do both since ancient times. So he’s a special kitten. He also spends his time pirating the world trying to locate treasures that Lunwyn lost centuries ago when a bad King betrayed the elves and decimated the land out of selfishness.

It doesn’t take long for Frey to notice Finnie’s lovely charms.

“I do not know, my wee Finnie, where I came from but I’m beginning to know why I’m here.”

And that was when stupid, stupid, stupidly, I asked, “And why are you here, honey?”

“I don’t need to say aloud what I know you also are beginning to understand, wee one,” he answered and I pressed my lips together because he was not wrong and I was still not going there. His eyes held mine as his mouth murmured, “She waits for me at windows and buys me dragons. There are reasons we walk this earth, I’m coming to realize mine.”

“Frey,” I whispered and said no more. I couldn’t. I was too moved and I felt strangely like I was standing in quicksand, sinking fast.

Action and adventure abound as the couple find themselves the target of several assassination attempts. This leads them on a journey around the entire kingdom as they try to outwit evil royal family members, pirate the high seas, fight a (very quick) war and allow Finnie to learn how to be a bad ass Raider. The descriptive work within the story is just beautiful and brings even inanimate objects to life – from a log cabin to the animals grazing in the countryside. Though, due to its fairly unedited state, Ms. Ashley does go into a little too much detail and some chapters are too info dumpy about irrelevant characters that don’t contribute to the main narrative. What I love the most though, is that you get to delve into the intricacies of relationships between different characters – not just the main couple. Finnie’s relationship with her twin parents and her maids is just charming. It’s great because sometimes, those relationships get cut out so that we can spend more time with our swoon worthy heroes. Yay, I say, yay.

Overall, the one thing that really does grate on my nerves is the fact that we do not ever find out how Finnie learnt about the parallel world (because I want to go there goddammit!). Obviously the witch told her, but how did Finnie know about this witch? An ad in the local paper? Kristen Ashley books are always a pleasure to read, but I believe this is the weakest of the Fantasyland series to date. That said, it’s still flipping brilliant. You can read any of them as a stand-alone, but you do miss out on some of the back stories.

The Urban Book Thief has awarded Wildest Dreams a kiss factor rating of four – be still my beating heart!

Kiss FactorKiss FactorKiss FactorKiss Factor

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