Review of LORD OF THE WHITE HELL BOOK TWO by GINN HALE
(part two of two in LORD OF THE WHITE HELL)
Given my favorable review of the first book, the fact that I loved the second might not be a big surprise. It's still impressive, though! Especially since oftentimes when an author wins us over we then raise our expectations unreasonably high. I devoured book two in less than a day, even putting off tasks I really should be doing instead.
Those who read the first book will expect the tension and awkwardness at the start as Kiram struggles with that mundane (but no less difficult!) challenge of interacting with an ex-lover he must see every day. I don't consider it too terrible a spoiler to reveal that Kiram does find his way back into Javier's bed. The problem still remains that while Javier lavishes Kiram with heartfelt devotion in private, he refuses to publicly acknowledge his feelings for another man or promise any long-term attachment, and Kiram fears an inevitable broken heart.
Then Hale takes the book's dynamic and gives it a good, hard shake by whisking all the students back home for their break. After Kiram and Javier find a comfortable, if not wholly fulfilling, balance of what they want from and can offer each other, this new twists tears them away, leaving the reader with the same questions as Kiram: Will Javier still feel the same way about him? Will he still feel the same way about Javier? A change of location can force one to analyze their life and realize the flaws they couldn't see before. The break also keeps the book's pace moving along and it's rewarding to meet Kiram's family and see more of Haldiim home life where there is no shame in men dancing or flirting with each other in public.
Though the book revolves around Kiram and Javier's romance, the fantasy element, specifically the curse, demands much more attention in the second part. Kiram realizes he will never even discover what choices Javier would make if the curse kills him first. For me at least, the mastermind behind this evil came as a surprise and Kiram finds himself in a tricky situation. Solutions exist, but none of them are easy or simple; they all come with pain and loss and some kind of sacrifice.
The ending satisfies, a blend of happy and sad with that sense that the story continues off the page, like it should. As all the politics unravel throughout the book, it becomes clear that a happily ever after for Kiram is asking too much, but don't fear - he earns some happy, enough happy to lessen the inevitable hardships in his future.