I have heard a lot about Lynn Viehl’s Kyndred series, but Frostfire was my first foray into her very complicated world of vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal beings. While readers who have read the previous books will probably not have any trouble with the setup, I found that I had to concentrate in order to keep up with the details of the different hierarchies and preexisting relationships. Reading this book as a stand-alone is certainly possible (I did it), but you’ll probably get more out of the story if the preceding books are read first.
Lilah is one of the Kyndred, a group of humans with enhanced genetics and special powers. Lilah has a special power over animals that allows her to read and control their minds. She has worked inconspicuously as an employee of animal control until she is forced to save a group of children from a bear. Her uncanny ability to control the bear raises flags and her special powers come under scrutiny by the media, making her vulnerable to groups that wish to capture her. She is fired from her job, her car is stolen, and her secret safe life seems to be falling apart. Suddenly, she is kidnapped by two thugs and finds herself in the back of a refrigerated truck handcuffed to a buff, handsome stranger.
Walker Kimball was a soldier on duty in Afghanistan. He wakes up in the truck handcuffed to Lilah on the brink of death with no recollection of how he ended up there. He and Lilah must find a way to escape their captors and make it to safety, all the while trying to discover why they have been captured in the first place. However, since neither is being completely honest about who and what they are, the issue becomes dangerously complicated. There are a number of breaks from Lilah and Walker with perspectives form other characters. Each of these subplots have their own issues, including an interesting secondary romance, and many of them intertwine with preexisting conditions in the Kyndred world. These were the instances where I found the book especially difficult to follow.
Frostfire, a fast-paced book, is much more suspense then it is romance. One of my biggest pet peeves is a heroine in mortal danger who falls inexplicably and unconvincingly in love. I understand that people feel very intense, real emotions when they are in potentially life-threatening danger, so I’m willing to believe that a heroine might feel that she is in love. However, I’m not so easily convinced that once that danger has subsided that the love will remain or last. I’ll accept desperate and hungry sex, but I think love in these situations, especially this situation, is insincere. Lilah and Walker fall in love as soon as they regain consciousness and it just doesn’t make any sense.
Despite the bad romance, I did enjoy Lilah. She begins the book a little timid, a little scared, and quickly blossoms into a woman ready to start taking names and kicking butt. Walker, who is all muscle and little personality, needs a great deal of babying. He’s the kind of hero who takes off and sulks after rough sex, ready to abandon the heroine before he ruins her. Lilah tracks him down, giving her a piece of her mind, admonishing him to take it or leave it. She’s not going to stand for his pouting when they have bigger fish to fry. This was the point in the book where I really liked Lilah and started to root for her. I actually think this book would be better without the baggage Walker brings to the table. Lilah is a heroine who comes into her own and realizes that even without her hero she’s perfectly capable of saving herself.
I think my grade was affected by the fact that it was difficult for me to follow along because I was missing some important details. Familiarizing yourself with the other novels in the series before reading Frostfire will probably add a lot to the plot and make the book overall more enjoyable. For me, Lilah was really the only high point of the book and, while I loved her development into a strong, capable heroine, she just wasn’t strong enough to make this a really great book.