Pay It Forward · Review · Writing

Book Review: North Pole City Tales 1-5, by Charlie Cochet

TEXT - Series books

northpolecitytalesseries

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Mending Noel (North Pole City Tales #1)

All is not sparkly snowflakes and sweet candy canes in North Pole City. Office workers Tim and Noel do nothing all day but antagonize each other—petty fighting that might be based on hatred… or a heated mutual attraction. It’s up to Jack Frost and his elf-friend Rudy to broach the hostilities and introduce some Christmas kisses, but is the Frost Prince up to the challenge of launching a new romance when someone’s trying to break his holiday spirit?

The Heart of Frost (North Pole City Tales #2)

At the North Pole, no one is more powerful and feared than the Prince of Frost. As general of the toy soldier army, Jack Frost has been working extra hard to put away the villainous Mouse King once and for all. If that isn’t taxing enough, Jack has to deal with the scandal and gossip brought on by news of his relationship with Rudy Rein Dear, captain of the Rein Dear Squadron, which hit headlines last holiday season. Lucky for Jack, his reputation has managed to deter any foolish attempts to stir up trouble. At least until now.

When someone sabotages Rudy’s plane during a test run a few weeks before Christmas, Jack is determined to find the culprit by any means necessary. The closer he gets to finding answers, the more difficulty he has not falling back to his icy ways. Has the Mouse King stepped up his game in order to throw Jack off his, or is someone a little closer to home behind the attempt on Rudy’s life? Either way, Jack has every intention of delivering a Christmas they won’t soon forget, even if it means losing the newfound warmth in his heart.

Vixen’s Valor (North Pole City Tales #3)

Rein Dear is a prestigious title, accompanied by admiration, devotion, and celebrity status, all of which one saucy Vixen thrives on. Alas, Vixen’s only concerned with having fun, unlike his stuffy and sensible best friend, Rudy Rein Dear, who Vixen has always been jealous of. Aside from being chosen by Mayor Kringle to be Captain the Rein Dear Squadron, Rudy’s managed to snag himself a prince, even if that prince is the dangerous and imposing Jack Frost.

All’s not lost for Vixen though. He discovers Jack’s cousin Vale has a soft spot for him. Vale Frost might not be a dashing prince, but he’s the next best thing: a decorated Lieutenant for the Toy Soldier Army, and a member of the Frost monarchy.

Determined to get what Vixen feels he deserves, he sets off on a mission to ensnare the kind-hearted lieutenant. But Vixen’s selfish ways are sure to lead to disaster, and it’ll take more than a little courage to set things right.

Loving Blitz (North Pole City Tales #4)

From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Disarming Donner (North Pole City Tales #5)

As a beloved Rein Dear and Christmas elf for Mayor Kringle, Donner prides himself on his flawless reputation, good sense, and wise decisions. Donner never does anything until he’s thought it through properly. He’s certainly not one to get flustered, infuriated, or fall prey to romantic nonsense. At least not until the most unlikely of elves begins chipping away at Donner’s defenses.

Calder is a Dockalfar—a dark elf. He’s wicked, untrustworthy, and armed with lethal magic. At least that’s what everyone thinks. It’s easy for them to believe the worst and mistrust him before they’ve even spoken to him, but Calder is out to prove that he’s more than his Dockalfar blood, especially to a certain Rein Dear who has caught his eye. But it will take more than sweet words for Donner to admit what’s in his heart.

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TEXT - Review

northpolecitytales1

Book – Mending Noel (North Pole City Tales #1)

Author – Charlie Cochet

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 64

Cover – Nice, but not really on par with the others in the series

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Holiday, Fantasy, Christmas

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This was a lovely Christmassy story, filled with heart-warming sweetness and hope.

Easily suitable for the YA/NA market, because there’s no 18+ material, the story focused on the emotions, while adding a sprinkle of Christmas to almost every aspect, without feeling overdone or exaggerated.

From the Rein Deer Squadron, Jack Frost, the Mouse King, Mayor Kringle, the AAD (Abominable Administrative Department), Mayo Kringle’s Construction Firm, Claus College, Sugar Plum Fairies and Elves, there was a little bit of Christmas everywhere, in the sweetest way! I loved that the exclamations were all holiday-related and appropriate – Pixie dust, Holy Holly. Together, the gentle but constant dedication to the holiday season made the world of North Pole City seem more authentic.

As main characters, I really hated Noel to begin with, until he got his own POV about the midway point of the story. Then it all became clear. He and Tim were lovely, sweet and charming in all the right ways. Great characters to read in terms of POV and their personalities being bright enough to shine through the pages and make them seem real.

The additional characters – and romance! – of Rudy and Jack was brilliantly done. Not only did their story pave the way for Tim and Noel’s future and their relationship, but it was the warmth that was needed, even when Noel was still a little frosty. Both big, strong characters and in the Rein Deer Squadron, it was nice to see their gentle side when with each other and the impact that their situation had on the rest of the Rein Dears.

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Favourite Quote

“Just keep this in mind – the bitter cold that comes from your own heart can never compare to the warmth of having someone you love in your arms. It’s time to be brave, Noel.”

“He led Tim in a sweeping waltz, noticing how Tim pressed his lips together whenever Noel turned him. Pretending not to have noticed, Noel picked up his pace just a little ad pulled away enough to spin Tim, who let out a snicker. Twirling him back, Noel grinned broadly. “You laughed.”

“I didn’t want to,” Tim said with a pout.”

~

northpolecitytales2

Book – The Heart of Frost (North Pole City Tales #2)

Author – Charlie Cochet

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 120

Cover – Gorgeous!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes

Genre – LGBT, Holiday, Fantasy, Christmas

.

I thought I loved book one, but this one was a complete emotional rollercoaster!

As before, the worldbuilding and storytelling were fantastic! Such attention to detail. This is only my third story by Charlie Cochet (after book 1, obviously, and The Soldati Prince), but I can already tell that they’re going to be an Instant Buy author for me, from now on.

Again, the story perfectly embodies the holiday cheer and the wintery feeling of Christmas. But the added danger and drama of that plane incident and what happens with Jack nearly killed me. The way that everything is fine one minute and then crumbling apart the next was a great piece of plotting that worked seamlessly with the events that took place.

I loved that we got to see Tim and Noel back again, but this time Rudy and Jack took centre stage and it was perfect. Tim, Noel and the addition of Vixen (who was intriguing and is up next), Hollis and Vale made great back up characters, as well as subtly introducing the next story and the characters that would be most important to that. I thought the addition of Ginger, the little Sugarplum Fairy, was genius and a perfect lead into more possible changes within North Pole City.

I loved that we got to explore Jack’s relationship with his father in more detail, as that’s such an important part of who he is as well as being vital to what happened previously. It was great that aspects of book 1 were picked up on and continued here – the Mouse King, the explanation of what had once happened to Jack, even the repercussions of Jack’s relationship with Rudy.

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Favourite Quote

““What are you all doing here?” Rudy asked quietly. Four pairs of wide eyes stared at him.

“You didn’t really think we were going to sit in front of your cozy fireplace while Prince Pouts-a-lot turned you into a frozen tasty treat, did you?” Vixen replied. He looked over his shoulder at Vale, whose cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. “You’re breathing down my neck, handsome.”

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry.” Vale started to shuffle back but Vixen grabbed his arm, a less than wholesome expression coming into his face.

“I didn’t say move.”

“Oh. Right.” The red in Vale’s face intensified and Rudy rolled his eyes. They were in immortal peril, and yet Vixen still managed to find the time to flirt.”

“Jack might be the Prince of Frost, fierce and powerful, but underneath it all was a fragile heart, one in need of Rudy’s protection. For as long as he remained on this earth, he would love Jack and do his best to keep him safe.”

~

northpolecitytales3

Book – Vixen’s Valor (North Pole City Tales #3)

Author – Charlie Cochet

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 81

Cover – Gorgeous!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Holiday, Fantasy, Christmas

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Another year, but even better. I thought book 1 was my favourite, as Tim was just too adorable for words. But I’ve been corrected. This one is my favourite.

Vale is adorable, in so many ways. Romantic, charming, old fashioned, understanding, thoughtful, considerate. Can I have one? Oh, and can I just say I loved the charming little nod to A Princess Bride with Vale’s “As you wish.” Loved it!

And then there’s Vixen. Gosh, what a bundle he is. All he wants is to be loved and appreciated, but no one ever gives that to him. No one treats him like the Prince he wishes he was. Until Vale comes along. And Vale doesn’t care about the rumours and whispers of Vixen being a floozy, too free with his vices and too concerned with himself. Vale sees that he’s just trying to be happy and find that love and appreciation he’s always wanted.

It was great to see Rudy and Jack pop up again, though we didn’t get any of Tim and Noel in this one and that was okay. I do have a niggling wonder of why it was never mentioned in books 1 or 2 that Vixen was Rudy’s very best friend, but I let it slide since Rudy went through some pretty monumental things back then and mostly it all revolved around Jack, so it might be understandable that he wasn’t thinking of others too much.

Again, I loved the continuity of the plot. The stories don’t overlap majorly, but just enough to show progress and a timeline. I’d say you could read them out of order if you wanted to, but the best enjoyment always comes from reading in order, where you can spot those little nuances that I love so much. Like the Mouse King making a reappearance.

Unashamedly, I’ll admit that this one is my favourite, so far. I cried like the Dickens multiple times. Truly brilliant.

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Favourite Quote(s)

“Because only truly brave elves can wear Rein Dear goggles.”

“Could Vale be the prince Vixen had been waiting to sweep him off his feet since he was but a fledgling elf? What if he left himself exposed and placed his heart in Vale’s hands? It would take so little for Vixen to fall.”

“Vale dropped to his knees beside him and swiftly gathered him into his arms, his eyes filled with unshed tears. “Vixen, what have you done?””

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northpolecitytales4

Book – Loving Blitz (North Pole City Tales #4)

Author – Charlie Cochet

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 94

Cover – Gorgeous!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV (with one added character POV)

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Holiday, Fantasy, Christmas

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Wow! This series just keeps getting better and better and better.

I’ll admit, the minute I finished this, even before writing this review, I checked to make sure there would be a book after the next one. I know who book 5 is going to be about, from the blurb, but there’s another couple I desperately need and I wanted to make sure they got their story. Though unconfirmed as the couple of the book, I at least get to know there’s another installment. Because I. NEED. IT. NOW.

At first, I was scared for Cupid and Blitz, because they’re the friend-zone-likely risk of two best friends who are crushing massively on each other and I wasn’t sure what would get in their way or how badly it would affect them. All throughout the story, I was scared for their future. More so than in other books. But, the way they dealt with it and the way it all worked out was magical.

For secondary characters, the usual suspects made a lovely, if often brief, appearance – Tim, Noel, Rudy, Jack, Vale, Vixen, Hollis, Donner, Dasher and Comet. By far the most interesting side story was Dasher. He’s one feisty fella. That moment with him and the King, at the Ball was both terrifying and thrillingly exciting. Then, later, I just about wet my knicker in excitement over how it was all turning out!

I was a little confused at first as to why we got Gunne’s – Cupid’s brother – POV, but it all made sense in the end and, quite honestly, the story wouldn’t have made sense without it.

Although the story ended at 88% (giving it the biggest back-matter of the series so far) I wasn’t too disappointed. Charlie Cochet always knows how to give the story everything it needs, in whatever space it needs. And ending with that small confrontation between Donner and Calder was so promising and exciting; it gave me hope and makes me excited to move onto Book 5. But, not withstanding that excitement, I really truly desperately NEED Dasher and the King to get their story. Pretty please?

I’m not going to bother repeating the gushing of previous reviews for this series (great plotting, world building, characterisation, detail) but I will reiterate that there is probably no better series of books to keep you feeling all warm and snuggly on a wintery night, wrapped up in a blanket, with a cup of hot cocoa.

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Favourite Quote(s)

“The orchestra broke off into a cheerful melody Cupid instantly recognized. Oh! It was his favourite dance. He swiftly handed his glass to a passing waiter and grabbed Blitz’s wrist. “Dance with me.”

Blitz looked uncertain. “But this dance is for sweethearts.”

“Well, we’re best friends. That’s kind of like a couple.”

“I, uh…” Blitz’s uncertainty melted into a warm smile. “Okay.””

“He is your Elska.”

“Donner folded his arms over his chest. “Why should we trust you?”

“You shouldn’t.” Calder leaned into Donner and gave him a toothy grin. “I am a very wicked elf. Stand too close and I might just eat you up.” Calder snapped his teeth, and Donner gave a start. He took a step back before glaring at Calder, who laughed.”

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disarmingdonner

Book – Disarming Donner (North Pole City Tales #5)

Author – Charlie Cochet

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 68

Cover – Gorgeous!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Holiday, Fantasy, Christmas

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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Well, the last in the series…until next Christmas.

A beautiful story of not judging a book by the cover, opening your mind and looking beyond the surface. For me, this one ranks equally with Vixen’s Valor for best story of the series.

Calder was…beautiful. It’s the only word to describe him. Strong, smart, teasing and playful; he was a great main character, but also the kind of deceptively brutish looking sweetheart with a gooey centre. On the other hand, Donner was a little bit more feminine than I’ve seen him before, more emotional, creative and flustered a lot. As a pair, they were charming and adorable.

I cried, I laughed and it was all for the good. Like the others, it hit me in the feels just when I thought everything was safe. And those moments when people were astoundingly happy, but it was only 60-70% and I just knew something awful was going to happen – they killed me.

I really loved that Cupid started the revolution of accepting that not all Dockalfar elves were evil, just like not all Christmas elves or Toy Soldiers were unerringly good. The brotherly love between Calder and Cupid was just stupidly lovely and the fact that we got to see more of Cupid and Blitz was just as sweet.

Again, another winner. Great writing, great plotting, great characters and one hell of an attention to detail with the world building. I don’t think I’ll ever not love an instalment of this series.

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Favourite Quote

Donner marched up to Calder, then jabbed a finger against his chest. Plum pudding, that hurt! He discreetly pulled his hand behind his back to shake it off. Was the elf made of granite? “Mayor Kringle might have thought it a jolly good idea for you to train Cupid, but you shouldn’t be here. And I don’t mean here in Jack’s palace – though you clearly shouldn’t be here either – but in North Pole City. No good can come of it.”

Instead of getting angry, Calder leaned forward, his smile wicked. “It would seem, my little dear, that you could use some bad in your pristine and perfect life.”

Donner’s jaw dropped.”

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