I’ve discovered Shauna Aura Knight’s fiction only recently, but I am so very glad I have. I thoroughly enjoyed her story “Werewolves in the Kitchen” in the Wild Shifters anthology released by Jupiter’s Garden Press, and so when she offered a copy of A Winter Knight’s Vigil for review, I eagerly snatched it up. Vigil is a story of love, courage, daring, and commitment – and for it to offer so much in such a short space is a testimony to Knight’s skill as an author.
The Kingsword Coven is a group of people, ranging in age and experience, united by both their spiritual pursuits and their love for all things Arthurian. There is kinship, that special experience you get from time to time when connections come easily and trust is both given and received, when interpersonal relationships are as strong as the overall group dynamic. They gather for a winter retreat, to celebrate Yule, and to share oaths with one other. Alas, nothing is quite that easy for all the members.
Amber has had a hard year. She’s lost her job, she’s struggling to make ends meet – about the only good thing going for her has been the relationships within her coven, and it is the last thing she wants to jeopardize. Which is why, for the past year, she’s been ignoring her growing attraction to Tristan. She avoids time alone with him whenever possible, doing her best to keep her distance. She’s heard enough horror stories from her covenmates about groups torn apart when romantic relationships end badly; she is not going to be the one to cause her last bastion of comfort and strength to fall to pieces.
Tristan’s year hasn’t been as rough, perhaps, but it has been lonely. He is growing weary of living in the moment and is growing restless with his string of one night stands. He’s thrilled to be a part of the Kingsword Coven, thrilled to find people with whom he can connect on a deeper level, to find people he can be himself around. It’s too bad, really, that Amber obviously dislikes him so much. Too bad, that she tolerates him because he is part of the coven. If only he knew what he’d done to offend her, but she’s kept her distance so well, it’s been impossible to clear the air between them . . .
Yule is a time that many set aside for shadow work, for facing one’s fears and fetters, for digging deep and examining where one wants to go in the coming year. This is as true for the members of the Kingsword Coven as it is for many real-life pagans. As is often the case with many of us, the fears and fetters we consciously decide to confront during shadow work may not be those that we end up facing. What will keeping their feeling secret from one another cost Tristan and Amber? What will be the price of following their hearts, let alone their desires?
A Winter Knight’s Vigil packs a surprising amount of suspense and romance into a relatively short piece of fiction. Knight captures the intricacies of group dynamics with a deft hand, and brings to life the lives and concerns of the members of the Kingsword Coven as a whole, as well as the decisions facing Tristan and Amber as they go forward into the New Year.
Fans of romance: if you haven’t yet checked out Shauna Aura Knight’s fiction, you are missing out, and you need to remedy the situation as soon as possible!
[Jolene Dawe is a polytheist devoted to Poseidon and Odin. She is the author of Treasures from the Deep, a collection of Poseidon’s myths retold, andThe Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her partner, a small horde of cats, one small dog, and three spunky spinning wheels. You can find her online athttp://thesaturatedpage.wordpress.com%5D