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Monday, February 24, 2014

ARC Review: The Frost of Springtime by Rachel L. Demeter

The Frost of Springtime by Rachel L. Demeter
The Frost of Springtime by Rachel L. Demeter
Publication date: February 14, 2014
Publisher: Black Lyon Publishing



A riveting story of love and courage in the aftermath of a brutal war, the author brilliantly juxtaposes the hazing splendor of French nobility and the impassioned elegance of two people in love, despite all the world’s oppositions. ~ Buried Under Romance


Paris – When Alekander de Lefèvre encountered a young girl being sold into a pleasure house, he felt a moment of compassion and took in young Sofia, whose tenacity at life suddenly filled the emptiness within his heart. No matter that he breathed cynicism, apathy, and the harsh realities of life, she alone brought him back from an abyss of solicitude. 

The time is now 1871, a ravaged Paris in political turmoil post its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (I suggest reading up a bit on this to get a better understanding of the background of this story). Alek came back from the war as cynical as ever, and again greeted by his Sofia – beautiful, vibrant, and still possibly with no idea of his escalating passion for her. 


“The man of Sofia’s life. 
Those playful words had behaved as a rude awakening. Aleksender had known he was in terrible trouble. Whether she’d been aware of it or not, they were trudging dangerous grounds. After all — some lines simply could not be crossed.” (Sec1:24)

Their relationship would be taboo, and yet, some things must not be denied. Alek has been the only man in Sofia’s life, a constant force holding her at peace. Overtime, he had changed from her savior into the man she loves, and yet that love is changing too. How would Alek confront the feelings he has for his much younger ward, whom he practically raised? And how would Sofia see Alek not as a white knight, but a dark knight in need of light? Most importantly…what about Alek’s wife, Elizabeth? 


In a sea of historical romance, The Frost of Springtime is in fact, far more historical than most others of its genre. The wistful loveliness of the setting paints a picture of a crying France, blending in with the dynamic romance perfectly. Or rather, it does not merely blend in the background as much as glitters like the brightest jewel, shining with a vibrancy that makes one want to relieve the halcyon days of grand old Paris. I was captivated by the setting, the lush writing of Rachel Demeter, and the subtle expressiveness of the characters, which all compelled me to research more of the historical background, of the 1871 Paris Commune, through which this story is made more infinitely dearer. 


But perhaps it is the characters that shine the brightest in this story. Alek is like an early existentialist, an intelligent, liberal thinker who decries his vicomte title, his aristocratic responsibilities, and his loveless marriage for his lineage. Central to this story is the theme of identity and freedom; Alek torn between two worlds; he is bound to his chateau, his title, and his wife, yet he craves freedom – to live, to enjoy, and to love, all of which Sofia represents in her life and role as a ballerina. 


This is, ultimately, a rather complex novel. The thoughts and motivations of the secondary characters are given ample space to develop, and the closure provided for the novel’s many questions is very well done. I am astonished at this being Rachel Demeter’s debut work, for in form and style, it is very much a tour de force. A riveting story of love and courage in the aftermath of a brutal war, the author brilliantly juxtaposes the hazing splendor of French nobility and the impassioned elegance of two people in love, despite all the world’s oppositions. The title is, in a sense, a representation of change: the beginning of a new spring with La Belle Époque and the transition into a new era, for the world and our protagonists. 



*I received a review copy from the author for an honest review

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