About the Book:
Author: Sarah Westill
Series: Gen-Heirs: The Guardians of Sziveria #1
Page Length: 388
Publication Date: June 3, 2021
Synopsis: A Gen-Heir to her assassin father’s legacy, Katria Nachemir will do almost anything to find the person responsible for murdering her mother and sister. Even become an assassin herself. In exchange for a deeper investigation into their deaths, she agrees to be a member of an Intel Guardian team, despite knowing the path is the last one her father would wish her to take.
Generations of dark family history have left Sean Blackbain, Primary Guardian Wintersfall, with limited choices. Either remain in Sziveria to face the whispers, or become the leader of a team and disappear.
Three years later, a botched assignment sends the team home, and a shocking detail is revealed concerning Sean and Katria’s government contracts. They’re married. With Sean’s tainted past, and Katria’s carefully guarded family secret, neither are prepared for marriage.
Exploring the murders of Katria’s family proves to be dangerous, and Sean realizes he’ll do anything to keep his wife safe. As they work together to discover the intricate lengths an unknown enemy has gone to keep the truth hidden, the passion they denied for so long begins to boil over. The bonds of their relationship are tested as the professional lines engrained between them blur.
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About the World:
In the distant future, a major cataclysmic event not only reshaped the world as humanity knew it, but left entire lands uninhabitable. As generations of survivors struggled to endure a fight for territory and resources, humanity regressed into what became known as The Primal Years. A dark and dangerous time that lasted for centuries.
Slowly, civilizations formed in the new nations. Limited means of transportation and communication began to develop in a resource-poor world. Powerful countries arose known as Sziveria, Ruthenia, Italyssa, Westica, and Cairo. New cultures, with their own standards of honor, became global powerhouses.
By 830 PCE, strong talents are now inherited traits, passed down through genetics. The recipients of an unavoidable hereditary legacy are known as Gen-Heirs. Trains, ships, carriages and if one can afford them, small magnetically powered vehicles move people. Radios are the only means of quick communication besides handwritten messages. Heated water is a luxury. Extreme drops in temperature and harsh arctic winds have forced most food growth indoors, in greenhouses. A dangerously lethal virus known as Human Rabies Syndrome (HRS) plagues the globe. The inhabited world is growing at a slow rate, each unique country striving to exist in harsher, cold climates, and those who survive have become ruthless in their quest to thrive in this new, forsaken world…
Wintersfall is such a unique and entertaining story, with an immersive setting, dynamic characters, and an intriguing plot. The story follows Katria and Sean, members of an elite government team who find themselves married and faced with several complicated mysteries to solve, most of which put their lives in jeopardy.
I like that the story and setting are complex and intricate and are told in an engrossing way that doesn’t feel overwhelming. The world Westill created is a fascinating mix of old, new, and futuristic. Victorian-esque proprieties and clothing mix with modern technologies and a combination of modern and old-fashioned transportation. Traditional family dynamics and societal expectations contrast with the futuristic methods of production and science. It is an immersive world, richly developed, and I was captivated by the story as Katria and Sean return to his elite world and try to unravel many mysteries.
As a Guardian, Sean is part of an elite social class, and as Sean’s wife, Katria must fit into this lifestyle. Katria is accustomed to a more humble life and is amazed at the fineries of Sean’s social class. I love the descriptions of the gowns, jewelry, hairstyles, homes, and events of the upper crust, which stand in sharp contrast to the gritty and unsavory happenings in society.
Illegal and highly addictive drugs are being smuggled into the country, and the Human Rabies Virus threatens their very existence. Sean and Katria are determined to find out more about these situations, and they must figure out who is targeting Katria. It seems as if their lives are never safe, and they are faced with deadly obstacles more times than I can count. These unexpected twists and turns would prove disatrous if Katria and Sean weren’t skilled government agents, assassins, and Gen-Heirs.
The concept of Gen-Heirs, inheriting specific enhanced genetic traits, is really intriguing too. Katria, for example, is an unbelievable sharpshooter like her father. Sean is a sympath, among other things, and both use their inherited traits to aid them in their roles with the government. They have honed their skills so that they are the best of the best, which proves beneficial as their life is endangered repeatedly throughout the story. Katria especially seems to have a target on her back.
The protagonists are also richly developed and interesting, and I enjoyed learning more about Katria and Sean, as they both have complicated pasts. Sean and Katria both have family secrets that they fear sharing with each other. Shame fuels Sean’s secrecy, and fear silences Katria. It’s interesting to see two spies, calm and cool in high-risk situations, struggle with many inner conflicts. Both have to come to terms with things that happened in the past and how the past defines their present, and it’s not easy for either. This seems particularly difficult considering there’s still a target on Katria’s back, and her family’s murders remain unsolved. She so desperately wants to find out what happened all those years ago, even more so considering her life is still in danger.
Sean constantly deals with the shame of his family’s reputation. There are a lot of skeletons in his family closet, and he is often judged because of that. Sean protects himself by closing himself off to almost everyone, but that proves difficult to do with Katria and the rest of his team. I think both Katria and Sean learn a lot about vulnerability, trust, and giving in to love.
Even though they have secrets, Katria and Sean’s romance is steamy and filled with chemistry. They’ve worked together for years as government agents and have kept their relationship completely professional. However, when they learn that they have actually been married for three years and are expected to now remain together, everything changes. They finally can examine and act upon their feelings, which they have held at bay for years.
A bit younger and way less experienced, Katria is afraid she might not be enough for Sean, but for Sean, Katria is everything he ever wanted. I found their relationship interesting because they know each other really well in some ways, yet in others, it’s like they don’t know each other at all. They both learn about each other’s pasts, their roles in society, and their hopes for their relationship and the future. Shifting from a professional relationship to something more creates so many possibilities for this couple, and they take it to the next level! Their love story is swoon-worthy and steamy, and I adored it!
The other characters in the story are fabulous as well. Katria and Sean’s partners are wonderful and well-developed, and I can’t wait to learn more about them, especially Kevin, who has a difficult and strained relationship with his wife. What I love is that Sean, Katria, Mason, and Kevin know they can trust and depend on each other no matter what. They are a team, and they have an unbreakable bond. Other characters, like Mason’s sister Cora, and Jonathan, a begrudging ally of the team are also fantastic, and I can’t wait to learn more about them.
This is a great start to what is bound to be a fantastic new series. The world, characters, and plot are complex, immersive, and fascinating, and the non-stop action makes for an exciting read. I am so thankful to Sarah Westill for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review and think that readers who enjoy paranormal romance will love Wintersfall!
- The romance!
- The setting.
- The action and intrigue.
What point did the lack of morality at taking a life begin to take its toll?
The lies of a manipulator are carefully woven, like a spider’s web.
I hold animosity toward a man who treats every person in his life like a pawn on a chessboard. His daughter included.
About the Author:
SARAH WESTILL lives in Alabama with her US Army-retired husband. They have two sons – one they’ve successfully raised to adulthood – the other is still a work-in-progress, navigating middle school.
As a full-on creative, Sarah lives to write, paint, teach, and meet amazing people while doing portrait photography.
A veteran in the publishing industry working as a cover artist under the name Elaina Lee, she has been blessed to help hundreds of authors to achieve their own publishing goals for over a decade.
To learn more about Sarah as she blogs her
adventures, and about her Guardians, please visit her at sarahwestill.com