For all the nay saying and complaining about the state of publishing these days, let’s not forget that small presses are bringing good authors to market. When I find a jewel like Jennifer Estep and her “Touch of Frost” series, I have to believe that we are in a new Golden Age of fiction.
Estep’s Gwen Frost has a full plate of problems. She’s fifteen. Her mother is has been murdered. Her grandmother tells fortunes for a living. She’s been jerked out of her comfort zone and sent to a new residential school for super power teens. And her own power is more of a curse: anything and anyone she touches tells her secrets. And some of then are not anything a person would ever want to know. Really.
Especially when you’re living in a school full of teenaged warriors, who all have violent tendencies and training to Save The World From Dark Forces. And that touching/sensing talent? It kind of makes physical contact with the resident hottie off limits. As in, he doesn’t want her to know his dark side either. In the meantime, the resident mean girl has been murdered, various statues keep aiming for Gwen, and there’s a villain on campus who has marked her as next on their list of victims. The hottie has secrets of his own, and Gwen has to decide not to take advantage of her talent to get to the truth. It’s a full disclosure romance with unlicensed drivers at the wheel.
“Touch of Frost” is a nice twist on the survival story meets paranormal powers meets prada. There’s some comic relief: Daphne, the Amazon who eventually becomes a friend, is addicted to the color pink. When Gwen finally is trusted with a weapon, it is a talking sword. With a Cockney accent and a bloodthirsty attitude. Hey, anyone up for sword fights or Valkyries coming back from the dead?