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Ice in Sunlight

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“I think I’m supposed to be dead.”

Corwen’s emotions are a frozen wasteland after years of enslavement and abuse. When he’s finally rescued, freedom isn’t enough to thaw the wintry landscape of his heart.

Slowly, his new compatriots teach him that physical intimacy is a sacred gift, that pleasure can be shared without pain. With endless patience, they offer him a different way of being.

In order to be whole, Corwen must surrender the self-loathing he wears like armor. Can he learn to see himself the way his new companions do? Or will he hide from love forever in the icy vault that shields his deepest soul?

Ice in Sunlight is a full-length M/M fantasy tale. It is intended for mature readers only due to adult themes and content.

186 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 8, 2016

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About the author

Julia Leijon

24 books9 followers
Julia Leijon fell in love with writing at the age of twelve, and with vampires a year later. Despite being in her midthirties now, very little has changed.

Her one moment of infidelity was when she was eighteen and read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, briefly switching her allegiance over to werewolves in the aftermath. Though she still writes shifters and weres from time to time, Julia now counts herself as a permanent member of Team Vampire.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Alex.
149 reviews125 followers
June 16, 2017
**ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**

In this story we meet Corwen. A young sexslave in the service of the cruel King Tobias of Genest. Corwens life have been anything but fair and just. All he knows is pain, greed and the strong will to stay alive. When the king is murdered by a people Corwen refers to as "the barbarians" his life takes a whole new course that makes him question everything he thought he knew about life, love and self-respect. These strangers slowly teaches him that there in value in everyone and that love can be something wonderful and worth tendering.


I quiet enjoyed this story. I love Corwen and his witty mouth and sharp brain.
I love how smooth and flowing Julias language is throughout the whole story. I love the idea and potential this story has, though I feel like it was more of an introduction to something bigger. I felt like the story wasn't complete (It was to short for my liking, not even 200 pages long!) and it could have used another 100 pages to really get the reader invested.
The storyline wasn't very eventful either. The more I think about it, nothing really happened except that we got to follow Corwen around his world and hear him mope about almost everything (understandable and entertaining but not exactly exiting) and yet there still was something that kept me going. I could not put it down and read it in one sitting.
Another thing that sort of caught my attention was the ending. NO SPOILERS It was to brief. To rushed. Everything happened at once and suddenly it was all over. I NEED MORE.

In conclusion: This story is good. Really good. Nothing to exciting, nothing to draining nor depressing to read. It is original in it's own sense. It is a lovely and inspiring love story about self discovery on a whole new level with lovely, inspiring, characters. A book worth reading.

If you are looking for a good book to steal away one afternoon this is the one for you.
Profile Image for Marion.
40 reviews6 followers
August 2, 2016
I was contacted by Julia Leijon's assistant to get a freebie of this book on InstaFreebie, so thank you again for the reading opportunity!

/!\ Trigger warnings for this book /!\: abuse (physical and mental) mention, pedophilia mention, overall retelling of past slavery.

I really did not expect to like this book, which is my own fault. I was definitely prejudiced on that one, and I gotta say I'm glad that it turned out I was wrong.

Ice in Sunlight follows the story of Corwen, a young man of 21 (if I remember correctly) who is freed from his life as a slave after a trio of three foreigners assassinate the king who was using him, and offer him a chance to change his life by following them. Corwen has grown up in a place that has reduced him to a pretty face and a young body, crushing any self-worth he might have had. And these strangers - the trio he meets first, and then all the other characters, with their diametrically opposed way of life, show him nothing more than kindness, trust and love. The way Corwen's been raised, he thinks all of those principles are bullshit. Until he realizes the incredibly positive effect that they have on him.

I'm not an abuse survivor so I can't speak on that, but I'll say this: the fact that this book was centered on the recovery of someone who's been through it, and in such a way that you saw the character slowly change, was beautiful. Corwen starts out as someone who thinks that every act of love hides some sort of manipulation, that trust is foolish, that kindness is useless because it earns you nothing. To see him baffled by simple acts of generosity, to see him doubt every kind gesture anyone had toward him, was heartbreaking - but it was completely rewarding to see him bloom thanks to people who truly, genuinely cared for him.

The few things I didn't like about this book can be summed up pretty quickly: the writing felt kind of awkward at times, with strange word choices (maybe I'm nitpicking, but "nope" and "yeah" said in a world with a historical fiction vibe to it felt weird to me); the sex scenes, while they didn't bother me at all, had little build-up to them so I was taken aback anytime there was one.

But, here are the things I loved about this book, and that I was incredibly surprised (but delightfully so!) to find:
- Apart from Corwen and three other characters (that we can only assume are white), all the other characters (the majority of them) are people of color. Not only that, but they do not fall under the tired racist trope of the "violent foreigners". They're all incredibly kind and loving. And there's no "were evil all along" trope either. Nope. They're just nice.
- All these characters have relationships/stories of their own that existed prior to meeting the main (white) character, which despite the shortness of the book and the fact that there wasn't much time for side character development, makes it easy to empathize with them. And not just because they're connected to Corwen.
- This book is tagged as M/M, for good reason, but holy shit, there's a bisexual character! And a polyamorous relationship involving many of the characters! And there's no jealousy bullshit subplot that breaks the group dynamic, nope, they genuinely love each other! And then there was a relationship with no sex, that is stated in text to be just as valid and deep and passionate as a relationship with sex! WHAT A GOOD.

Now I wanna point out, there is a political subplot in this book, and it's not very substantial, nor very developed. It's resolved in the span of ten pages, and yeah, maybe that can bother some people. I would totally get it. But in the end, I realized that that fact really didn't dampen my liking of the story. It was genuinely lovely and enjoyable, despite not having a political plot as deep as A Song of Ice and Fire's or Captive Prince's.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
369 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2016
While I really enjoyed this book and found it engaging I would have liked to know more of what happened to Corwen and Eli after they reunited especially once they talked to Livia. I also loved the fact that by the time we actually meet Eli and Livia we already know them. This is one book I would really like to see a sequel to. While reading this book I was thinking wow I don't know if I've every known a character more broken and empty than Corwen. Once I finished I read the notes about the author Julia Leijon in the back. I then saw that one of the archetypes for Corwen was Alois Trancy from Kuroshitsuji(Black Butler in English), I was like okay I do know of a character just as or more broken and empty than Corwen. The only difference is Corwen is given the chance to heal while Alois wasn't. There's so much more I could say about this Corwen and this book but that would giving away to much. There is one thing I'm dying to know but don't think I'll ever have answered, is Reza Eli and Livia's cousin.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Mariana.
58 reviews11 followers
July 10, 2016
I was kindly provided an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
*review to come*
Profile Image for Dawn Sister.
Author 15 books74 followers
July 1, 2016
I was offered this book in return for an honest review.

Thank you for the offer. I thoroughly enjoyed this and read it one sitting. Corwin's character had me hooked from the beginning. His quick tongue and wit, his seemingly hopeless situation, the fact that the only thing that actually makes him happy is thinking of how he will die, because he knows, with clear certainty, that he will die. This all combined to make him a very real, very flawed but very likeable character.

Corwin is a slave, a sex slave at that, used for pleasure. He's survived so far by staying ahead of his owner and making himself desirable rather than dispensable. He is very clever, but does not know that he is, only that he can think on his feet and can learn quickly, quicker than those around him and that fact has kept him alive longer than most sex slaves. He is now nineteen and the average age of death for a slave of his standing is seventeen.

He is owned by a king. He is the same age as the king's younger son, Eli. They strike up an unlikely friendship which is ill-advised and quite frankly dangerous but makes both their situations very much more bearable. We see this friendship through a series of flashback memories, which can sometimes be distracting from the story, but the author wove them into the narrative very well.

Eventually, as a punishment for this friendship and because the king is a sadistic b*st*rd, the son is sent away and Corwin is left to try and survive on his wits alone with only the memories of his friendship with Eli to brighten his otherwise dark dreams.

He is rescued from his life of slavery, but knows little else of life, so therefore finds his new situation difficult to comprehend. He cannot accept that he is no longer expected to be "useful" because if you are no longer useful to someone they kill you. Sometimes he tries to endear himself to his new "captors", since his brain does not allow himself to see them as friends. Sometimes he challenges them, their ideals and their way of life. He annoys them and sometimes provokes angry reactions, but he also intrigues them.

In his new life, those around him show patience and acceptance and he slowly heals from the mental wounds of his former life.

Meanwhile there is a little intrigue in the form of political assassinations, manipulations and revenge killings. Corwin's new situation is thrown into disarray when the daughter of his former owner tries to claim him as her own property, and her brother, Eli arrives with a view to renewing their friendship in safety this time.

All in all this story was very enjoyable. Towards the end I found myself a little disappointed that there was not more conflict due to Corwin's uncovering a plot. The problems were more easily solved than I would have expected. There were a few loose ends as well which I realised were not going to be tied up. The author went to great pains to describe and compare two characters with a hint of a connection but then nothing came of it. Am I to believe there will be a sequel to cover this story line? I hope there is, because I would definitely read it.

This is well worth a look.
Profile Image for M.
158 reviews
July 4, 2016
I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is actually the first time I've ever been offered an ARC, and I think I had a lucky first experience--Ice in Sunlight is fab.

Content notes and warnings: frequent references to rape and coercive violence (the latter appears occasionally on the page); cannibalism; sex work (both voluntary and very involuntary); references to child rape (never appears on the page, but frequently referenced/implied); murder/assassination; somewhat gory violence at one point.

On to the review!

It has a very fannish sensibility; the tropes at play are the kind of thing I know many of my friends love. The main character is a sex slave to a king, in love with the (sent-away) prince, and covers all his pain with stoicism and bitter sarcasm.

The evils of the kingdom he resides in are pretty overplayed--right up to the cannibalism level--but the book opens with the king being assassinated and our troubled hero escaping, so it's less present in the book than it otherwise would be. Other reviews are correct that the book opens with a LOT of this, but it quickly transitions away. Similarly, the goodness of the society he finds himself in is overplayed, but that part really worked for me; it was an enjoyable and restful setting, and however unrealistic, it felt like a heavenly rest for our hero, one he very much deserved after his horrific youth.

The plot wraps up nicely but really isn't the point. The point of it, or maybe the reason I would recommend it, is that it's a very safe read: the tortured hero is surrounded by trust, comfort, and generosity; he can deal with his trauma and learn to be vulnerable and the reader can relax into it the same way that he does. The particulars of the happy ending are visible from even a few chapters in, which is ideal for what the book is: a smooth ride to enjoy the protagonist's increasing happiness and fulfillment.

I have some quibbles. The sex scenes read as very het (none of them are, but there's a huge emphasis on penetration and at one point a man who's never been with much of anyone goes from zero to being pounded in one fairly short encounter), although I liked that despite the heavily foreshadowed HEA, the hero had a number of feasible(ish) and enjoyable sexual encounters with other male characters.

No magic in this, by the way. I'd call the setting a mix of faux-Greek polis with faux-medieval. It's perfectly nice as a setting for Happiness Comes to Corwen.
Profile Image for Katherine.
2,577 reviews7 followers
July 2, 2016
Received as and ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This was a fantastic, if slightly difficult, story to read.

Now, you see difficult and may hesitate to get into this. But it wasn't the writing or the reading that was difficult; no this was very well written and excellently laid out, a story that I devoured in an afternoon. What was difficult was the subject matter. Corwen is a sex slave under a cruel king, kept for the past ten years both as punishment for himself and a hostage for the prince. To survive in such a world he has created a cynical and callous view of the world, a way to protect himself from the hurts that he knows will come.

When the king is assassinated and Corwen is found waiting for death, the invaders instead offer for him to come back with them to their land. They are a kind people, with an accepting religion that believes in free love and truth. Their gentle relationships and open caring have the ability to heal Corwen if he is willing to accept it.

It is hard to like Corwen at first. Everything he does seeks to hurt and cut others, preventing him from being hurt first. Even getting to know that doesn't help at first. But watching the slow progression of his character is wonderful and beautiful. I loved that Leijon didn't ignore the past either, bringing it up in bits and pieces as the story went on. Running along the whole time was also the political setup of the world and a chance to think of the future which was artfully done.

This was an excellent book and something I would strongly recommend!
Profile Image for Emma Jade.
17 reviews
July 10, 2016
Don't be fooled by the sappy book description:
"...freedom isnt enough to thaw the wintery landscape of his heart."
Because this book is actually really good.

It's also very short, around 250 pages in epub form; which was a bit of a shock for me, as i had just finnished a couple of MONSTER books before commencing this one (Lady Midnight, A Little Life: 700+ pages each).
I would of liked a bit more actually.

Corwin is a fairly dimensional character, with just the right blend of sass and self loathing for a former bed slave, but i felt that his *feelings* on the abuse he sustained when being used by the king could have been touched on a tad more, for a book about sexual healing.
I really liked Livia, and though she only gets a minor role in the story (...or does she) i really conected with her charater.

Plot was okay, (spoiler-ish) but why Corwin was the only person in the castle who left with Amir's convoy aludes me.
I found some bits to be a bit info-dump-y, with backround on various kings and queens with little relevance placed somewhat randomly throughout the text.

It also felt like it was aluding to something, and i think maybe there is another story to be told in this world... Hopefully!

I really liked the contrast between the two main cultures, even if the first was not explored much. (One of the first scenes, where Corwin cuts the meat really caught my attention!)

Overall im really glad that i got to read this book. (And for free !! in exchange for an honest reveiw)
Profile Image for Rin.
336 reviews
July 3, 2016
4 stars!

I was offered this book in return for an honest review.

Firstly, I would like to say that I was expecting romance front and centre but it wasn't. Nonetheless, the book was more about self discovery and learning and because romance wasn't necessarily the main point, I got to see more of the side characters who were just as complex as Corwen.

Corwen's life was tipped upside down when he is unexpectedly free after the assassination of his king (good riddance) and knowing his fate should he stay, he decided to follow those responsible for the assassination back to their country. I loved the details of the various places such as the plaza and the world building. As said before, there was an array of side characters whose story I would love to hear more of. They value physical intimacy and hence the culture seemed polygamy to me which was something I wasn't quite comfortable with but accepted as it was part of their culture.

I especially liked the flashback scenes in the book that details moments in Corwen's past and his interactions with the royalty from his country.

Overall, I feel like there could totally be a sequel to expand the story .
Profile Image for Maddie  k.
408 reviews5 followers
July 3, 2016
Reviewed for my honesty.

Well this book is not my normal read at the moment, I was offered to review and I loved the cover plus it reminded me of the guy from Harry Potter but sexier.
So enough of that.......

this book was once of those books you need to sit and take in all the details, from the first page your thrown into a world that just has you hooked to find out the what's, how's, whys and 'boy' do we go on a journey.

Corwin was a character that is unique he's a puzzle in himself he's witty and just says how it is. But the main thing that had me pulling to him was his fantasy of dying,
it seems to make him happy to have these dark thoughts which makes him a powerful character.

Corwin is a clever young man who has learned to survive by using his means as he's a older sex slave then the average age. He's owned by the king who I don't like but as events happen with a budding friendship between Corwin & the Kings son Eli things turn troubled and Corwin finds himself alone again.
Then he's rescued but at first he don't believe it and feels he's no longer useful and that's not what he can accept as slavery is all he knows.

This book will have your mind in a spin trying to work bits out and boom your on a different path but I enjoyed it and feel it needs a second book :)
Theirs so much I could give away but, this book is written well it needs you to read it to fully appreciate it.
An enjoyable read I give this book 4 stars

116 reviews3 followers
July 8, 2016
My first reaction when I started the book was eww, but that was the first few pages of the story and I quickly got interested in what was happening next.
After his dying mother tries to kill him, because she can’t protect him anymore, Corwen spends the next 10 years as a sex slave to a cruel king. The tale picks up when the king is assassinated and the people who killed him, take Corwen to their own country as a free man.
Corwen doesn’t know how to be free. He can’t find his worth, when the only thing he knows how to do, is rejected. He is being fed, clothed, and care for, when he has known only pain and disdain for so many years. He is lost, unsure what is expected of him in return for his survival. This book is the story of his journey to healing, giving snippets of his past life through his dreams and nightmares.
I enjoyed this story very much because it showed that even broken people can heal and find a measure of happiness.
I received an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shaztwirl.
2,895 reviews37 followers
July 8, 2016
An Exciting Journey Into Unknown Lands.

What a wonderfully delicious journey the author takes us on, through lands dark and dangerous and led by a tyrannical ruler to its polar opposite where everything is bright and cheerful, just like the king himself.

You learn as you go along, with this book. You won't get a descriptive info dump telling you who's who. What you do get us a fluidly written story, a tangle of webs to be unravelled and a picture painted with words of foreign lands that are brought to life.

You will also see mentioned, cannibalism and non-consensual sex but there are no descriptions of such on the page so rest easy. This is my first book by this author and my first foray into this genre (I'm a contemporary fiction reader for the most part) but I will gladly be checking out more of both.

I received a n ARC of this book in return for an honest review (my first).
Profile Image for BakaRena.
494 reviews19 followers
March 3, 2017
Honestly, I've been so confused about the romantic line there – I was sure it would be with Reza in the end, dammit. He was “filling the holes” so nicely there after all… Well, I also suspected Eli and Enver and Amir and Sabriyya and even girls and at some point I thought it would be something polyamorous… I was wrong. Mostly.
All in all, it was a very nice story, maybe a bit too short to fully explain the world and for Corwen’s “progress” to feel less abrupt. Some dialogues felt random and a bit unnatural, but sex scenes were pretty good and never with the same partner~
Also I’m grateful to the author for thinking about Alois Trancy while writing this – the poor boy never got his happy ending after all…
Profile Image for Abby.
24 reviews20 followers
February 24, 2017
I'm pretty conflicted about this book, because objectively it was fairly good and I *loved* some of the worldbuilding, but the tradeoff was not worth spending the entire time in the protag's deeply unpleasant POV. I think I would have had more patience with him if I'd ever had a break from him; as it was, the closest I came to actually liking him was when

So yeah. I would have liked to like it better than, in fact, I did.
Profile Image for Helie.
95 reviews13 followers
July 17, 2016
A wonderful setup for a new series. I enjoyed all the characters and the low angst storyline. As other reviews mentioned, the story does end rather abruptly. I am looking forward to seeing what's to come!

This book was kindly provided by the author for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jolene.
680 reviews
July 12, 2016
This was a pretty good book. I liked how Corwin used sarcasm to keep people at a distance. Even when everyone else was being kind.

I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
457 reviews10 followers
December 2, 2016
Not badly done, but slow to develop

It took me quite a long time to get a feel for where she was going with this.

Basically, Corwin is a slave who became manipulative and angry in his abuse. In her author blurb, she mentions Nicaise from Captive Prince as a model - that's accurate.

But he is rescued by people from a sort of an odd free love society, and the premise is that they help him develop a sense of self and become a more whole person.

The writing isn't terrible, but the development is spotty. Corwin is fairly one dimensional himself - he never really becomes much more than the supporting character he was patterned after. The supporting characters seem to be basically props. They don't have any motivations of their own other than sex. The dialog is all quite modern, think "snotty teenager." There isn't much to draw the reader in to a fantasy world.

I got the idea that she was trying to create an erotic fantasy in the image of Jacqueline Carey of Megan Hart, but her world building isn't sufficient. The society doesn't develop past the polyamory and sex aspect. There are no real relationships, it doesn't explore how people raise families or how they manage conflicts. It's all very shallow.

And the whole "growth through good sex" plot arc is complicated by sex scenes that never really leave a basic m/m erotica formula. There is no growth because they are all the same and they have very little emotional power. They are focused on tab a and slot b, not connection or character.

It was an ambitious project, but I don't think it fulfilled its potential.
Profile Image for MelMon Sanchez.
528 reviews7 followers
July 30, 2017
After living a life with such a harsh beginning Corwen is faced with the challenge of leaving all he knows behind and moving on to Ardvi Aban with his new companions Amir, Mariam and Reza.

In this new place he starts to find new meaning yet he is reluctant to believe that his reality and his future are the same as his beginning.

This story is one of survival and finding oneself. Then being dragged back to face yet another obstacle. Cowen, at his young age of 19 has experienced a life that no child should have to experience, and in the end, he is brought back to love. To feel true desire and fulfillment in something that he longed for, for so long and was never allowed to express. A sensual and very sexual story filled with twists and twisted occurrences.
Profile Image for John-Torleif  Harris.
2,583 reviews9 followers
August 4, 2017

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book and the journey of healing that Corwen embarked upon. It took me a while to get to that point though. This book largely takes place within Corwen's head; there's not much in the way of action, but everything that does happen leads Corwen to recognize the limits (some self-imposed, and others not) that he has lived within. Once he's recognized that those limits are there, he has to choose whether he wants to remain as he is, or not.

I found this book to be though provoking oftentimes. There were several instances that I found that I didn't actually like Corwen, and yet, I still wanted to see him develop and grow in his freedom.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Tammy.
646 reviews8 followers
August 3, 2017
First time reading from the author.
The cover and the description pulled me into wanting to read the story.
But sorry to say the story just didn’t catch my interest. I tried to read it several times, but something was making it hard for me to want to read it.
Corwen’s character wanting to harm the animal, made it that much more not wanting to read it. I got to to about 30 percent and couldn’t push myself anymore to go on. His character didn’t make me connect to him or the story and for some reason just felt lost when tried to read the story. Sorry it wasn’t for me.
Got From Hidden Gems ARC Club for an honest review.
Thank you for sharing your book with me.
Profile Image for P Leslie.
2,642 reviews18 followers
July 29, 2017
3.5 stars

This was a really unusual book with quite a distinctive story that has you hooked.

Corwen perceives the world in a very negative way but who could blame him - he spent the last decade of his life as a sex slave. Nothing eventful actually happens but you get a very unique perspective of someone whose seeing the world before him in a completely different light then the one he's lived for so long.

Most of the book was evenly paced except for the ending which felt very rushed.
Profile Image for Pamela aka Scottieluvr.
198 reviews2 followers
August 23, 2019
MM Romance: 2019 Q3 Read Your TBR Challenge

I cannot stand Corwen; he could invent world peace by the end of this tale and I still could not like him. Corwen’s severe cynicism became irritating and distracting. However that's a good sign the character was tangible to me as a reader. The premise and other characters ere enjoyable; offsetting any animosity I felt towards Corwen.
Profile Image for Simera.
1,469 reviews2 followers
July 31, 2017
This is a short intense read. Corwin hasn't known much kindness. He uses snarky replies to keep others away.
I enjoyed how Corwin developed over the story.
I received a copy for an honest review.
64 reviews
August 28, 2017
It was a good book. Not usually my thing but I did enjoy reading it.
Profile Image for Daniel.
342 reviews17 followers
August 2, 2018
This was very interesting to me and I really wanted more. While Corwen is very depressing I saw quite a bit of myself reflected in him.
Profile Image for Narrelle.
Author 52 books110 followers
August 16, 2016
Some stories that become beautiful start in ugly places. Mary Borsellino, writing here as Julia Leijon, is a master of this progression, never shying from harsh realities while simultaneously always offering hope for redemption.

Ice in Sunlight opens with a slave, Corwen, hiding in the kitchens while the assassination of his owner - the King - is taking place upstairs. Corwen is cold, cynical and unpleasant. He is in the habit of tormenting the kitchen dogs and comes from a society where the eating of one's enemies is a literal thing, and several bodies are hanging in the pantr

For all this harsh beginning, it's very easy to see how Corwen's meanness and acceptance of cruel practices stem from his own experiences. He's been a sex slave to a tyrant since he was ten years old; he carries a scar on his throat from a childhood attempt on his life; he has survived to almost twenty through cunning and cleverness. And yet his thoughts of the prince who was his friend remain kind. In the midst of his unpleasantness, there is a kernel that there may be more to Corwen than life has allowed him to be.

Corwen has been brutalised from an early age, and his greatest comfort seems to be imagining how he will die - young, certainly - in ways that give him more power and personhood that his life, and how he believes his end will really come. His antipathy towards the castle dogs comes from a very awful and bitter understanding.

The King's assassins turn out to be philosophers of a sort, here to do this one unpleasant but, they think, necessary deed. Corwen believes he will be slaughtered as a traitor if he stays, so they allow him to return with them to Ardvi Aban, despite their misgivings and his.

Nobody, thinks Corwen, can be as kind as these people pretend to be. Certainly, Corwen does not think he has any worth at all, and cannot understand why anybody would think better of him.

And so we get the story of how Corwen, made flinty and cynical through abuse, discovers kindness. He learns that sex doesn't have to be about power, and learns not only that love is possible, but that he does deserve it.

That paragraph makes it sound like a sweet and sentimental journey, and Ice in Sunlight is not that. Corwen's self-worth (or rather, self-loathing) is also caught up with his sometimes complex relationship with his abuser (or abusers, if you consider how he got his scar). There's a lot of pain in his growth, and often I was close to tears as I read. Many of his thought processes, and the revelations he has on the way, reflected things I've read from people who have survived abuse and how complex the thinking can be when you are both reliant upon and frightened of the person doing you harm.

Ultimately, it's a beautiful story of redemption and love. Not every problem is solved by the end, but there is growth and a place of peace. Corwen is written with compassion even for his worst behaviours, because he has been taught it is literally an 'eat or be eaten' world. That the reader can be invested in him, even at his worst, and can feel pain for his pain, is a deft bit of writing - one at which Leijon excels.

The supporting characters are also beautifully written: the seeming Utopia of Ardvi Aban is indeed a wonderful place, but it's a very wonderful human place, a sanctuary of the best that humans can be, in contrast to the Genestian environment in which he was warped. People aren't perfect, but they are seeking balance. The final philosophical revelations - about water and waves and ice - are perfect metaphors for love and loss and Corwen's journey of transformation.

In Ice in Sunlight, Corwen finds peace, kindness and love. He is healing from his terrible wounds of the soul. It makes for heartbreaking reading at times, but by the end my heart was mended and as full as Corwen's for the new hope he has for his life.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Antonella.
1,377 reviews
March 5, 2017

Original idea, I liked Corwen's development, the ending was definitely too rushed, but maybe that's because the book was a bit on the short side.
Profile Image for Kristel (hungryandhappy).
1,444 reviews76 followers
July 7, 2016
*ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

The longer it took them, the longer he’d live, and he liked being alive. It was his biggest weakness.

First time receiving an ARC and it was great!! I liked the book just fine but it lacked some elements that made me give it 3 instead of the 4 stars I wanted to give it at first.

The first quarter of the book was ok, I read it without effort but I wasn’t really intrigued with the story. The first chapter I was going to punch Corwen because he wanted to hurt a dog. Come on, Corwen, I get you don’t have a happy life but that’s a dog, what did he do to you to deserve such a treatment?

The King of Corwen’s kingdom is assassinated and the assassins offered him a chance to change his life as a slave and go with them to their kingdom in which people are nice, love is possible and being intimate is not the abuse he is used to. Corwen doesn’t believe such a world can really exist but since he has nothing to lose he goes along.

Without fear and fighting for his life, he didn’t even know who he was, didn’t know how to be.

Corwen is a really nice character and you feel his pain. He believes he is worthless. He needs to be needed or else he feels like his existence is pointless and he has to be dead. That’s his only option and that is really sad. His growth throughout the book is nice, how he opens little by little and he stops using bad words to describe himself. Maybe this new life isn’t so bad.

I shipped him with King Amir at first but then I thought about it again and no, they weren’t a match in my book. Then I shipped him with mysterious Reza and it was a great ship, they looked hot together. I of course shipped him with Enver because they made a really cute couple. It was easy to ship him with the guys because that city was love-and-sleep-with-everyone kind of city and I loved it! Steamy scenes!! Give me more steamy scenes!

“You don’t even need that dagger at your hip. You could assassinate people with nothing but your skill at insults.”
“You’re still standing.”

Corwen talked and thought a lot about Prince Elias, son of King Tobias, his owner, and at first I didn’t give it much thought but I guess all those times Eli was in his mind was because of a very particular reason. Mmmmm Corwen, you are a cutie!

Long story short, I really liked this different kind of story but I felt the ending was a little bit rushed. The characters just disappear on me all of a sudden and I wanted them to interact more with each other. I wanted more King Amir but he was gone. Where are you Amir? Show yourself! I would have loved an epilogue! That’s it, the story lacked the epilogue, a “four months later” kind of thing. I'm an epilogue kind of girl!

I will still recommend it if you like what the story is about. It doesn’t take much of your time because you won’t be able to put it down once you start it.
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