Saturday, July 9, 2016

Audiobook Review: Wildest Dreams by Kristen Ashley

Series:     Fantasyland #1
Pub. Date:June 21, 2016
Publisher:Audible Studios
Narrator:Tillie Hooper
Length:18 hrs 49 min

I am so excited that Kristen's books are being released in audio. I think this is the third or fourth time I have read this book, but the first in audio. Kristen picked a great narrator. Tillie Hooper helps bring the characters to life by conveying that wide range of emotions present in every KA book. Her performance was spot on for both characters, and she does male voices just as well as female. Oh yes... and talking animals as well!

The Fantasyland series envisions a world parallel to our own where every person has a twin. While the twin may have the same look and name - their personalities are unique and can vary widely. It seems that each individual is a twin at birth, but the death of one does not necessitate the death of the other. The wide majority of people in our world have no knowledge of this parallel world... but with the help of a savvy and powerful witch, twins can swap places. That gives us the premise for this series... twins swapping places in their respective worlds.

The twins swapping places in this first installment are Seoafin ("Finnie") Wilde and Princess Sjofn Wilde (both pronounced see-oh-a-fin). Finnie was very close with her parents, but they died young and she has been grieving for a long time.  Her grief and adventurous nature lead her to seek out a witch who can help her trade places - her main desire being to see her "parents" in the other world. Only Princess Sjofn was less than forthright about why she agreed to switch places - and Finnie appears in the other world only to be marched down the aisle to marry someone they are calling the Drakkar (dragon). Clearly this is a little more adventure than Finnie bargained for. But Finnie rolls with it and we start to see this easy going, friendly, curious and vivacious personality that makes everyone fall in love with her. You can't NOT like Finnie, which her new husband discovers fairly quickly once he actually gives her a chance.

Kristen Ashley is known for her alpha male goodness. To me, Frey Drakkar is one of the more tame alphas in KA's portfolio, but I can't say exactly why. Coming from a long line of royalty, and being infused with special powers that haven't been seen for a millennia, Frey Drakkar is a powerful man who expects to be obeyed. He was definitely a take-charge male, and he didn't really care what other people thought about his words or actions. He and his band of loyal men were taking care of business and to hell with the naysayers. His actions, including his planned marriage to Princess Sjofn, were altruistic and for the good of the kingdom. Yet he had no tender feelings toward Sjofn herself, quite the opposite - he pretty much abhorred her.  This lead Frey to treat Finnie poorly at the outset, and he was shell-shocked to see how well she adapted against all his expectations.  Once Frey gets to know the real Finnie, he becomes a big ol' marshmallow where she is concerned. I think Frey's sweetness toward Finnie is what tamed down his alphaness in my eyes... but I loved every minute of it/him.

I loved the relationship between these two.  Even though they are both carrying secrets that they shouldn't - you can't deny the chemistry and sweetness between the pair. Frey loves Finnie's zest for life and genuine caring for almost everyone she meets. Her wonder at everything magical and different in Lunwyn was endearing to Frey and the reader. Then Frey was so sweet on Finnie that it gave me a toothache. Even though he did the alpha male thing to keep from losing her, I couldn't blame him because his heart was so earnest.

There was lots of adventure in this fun fantasy world. I know I haven't said a lot about the world building - but I think one of the better things about this story was discovering all that the parallel world had to offer. So I don't want to spoil that for anyone else.

It's no secret that Kristen Ashley is my favorite author... and I am so happy that she writes across genres. I don't like to read only single genre so it's always nice when your favorite author gives you more options to enjoy their work. Stay tuned next weekend for my review of The Golden Dynasty in audio!