Title: The Valor of Vixen (North Pole City Tales #3)
Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: December 2, 2019
Genre(s): Fantasy, Holiday, Christmas, Short Story
Page Count: 83 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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.
The third in the series is not quite as strong as its predecessors. Still a solid story, it just didn’t seem to hang together as well. Construction of the story is similar, in that it involves a human incarnation of one of Santa’s reindeers. The world-building of this series is an interesting twist on the traditional tales of the season, where spirits and animals are represented as human characters with magical powers. In this tale is one of redemption, the central character is seen a selfish and churlish. Certainly, in this case, the character may well have reasons for his actions and is ultimately saveable; however, from the reader’s perspective, this is one individual who personifies ‘we are what we repeatedly do’. It is difficult to get close to him as, at every turn, he messes up his commitment to change. His object of affection is equally irritating, as he is too nice, too understanding and accepting.
As a short story, it is not possible to draw out the bad side of a character to make the conversion more pronounced. Consequently, the relationship between the two central characters is marked/marred by Rein Dear being a prisoner of his reputation; whilst he can see himself beyond it and is drawn to the sweetness of the other character, he falls foul of what he and others perceive him to be. It is this that does not fit well within the structure of the story, it is just too quick.
There is passion and sex, which is lightly covered. This is appropriately placed, but it is not clear if this really adds anything to the story.
The pace of the story is variable but generally moves quite well. It is made up more of individual scenes rather than a single plot, so it was not as easy to be drawn into the plot.
The denouement felt rushed and whilst there was a little tension the lack of empathy made it less effective. The story provides a happily ever after for the couple and draws the pair closer to those from the preceding book. A tiny hint is provided as to the character focus of the next story but leaves it open for development.