A Whisper of Solace by Milena McKay

A Whisper of Solace
Published: 4/12/2022
What makes an Ice Queen? Neve Blackthorne, head of one of the most successful Studios in Hollywood, is the one to rule them all. Powerful, beautiful, and aloof, she’s ruthless, yet irresistible. Above all, she has an unquenchable survival instinct. Surely a fleeting entanglement with one Audrey Avens, a bright, young, rising star in her company, won’t bring down the Wicked Queen of Tinseltown. Or will it? Neve’s public persona has no chink in the…

It is difficult to adequately convey how much I love Milena McKay’s writing. I’m not eloquent enough to do her work justice but I will do my best to express how her writing in A Whisper of Solace made me feel. When I first read The Delicate Things We Make, I was enthralled and then The Headmistress blew my mind. I thought there was no way she could eclipse the brilliance of The Headmistress but then I met Neve Blackthorne. This character and story will stay with me for a very long time.

Neve Blackthorne is the CEO of one of the biggest studios in Hollywood. She has been having an affair with one of subordinates, Audrey Avens for four months and she goes to therapist to help her quit because she knows she can’t do it on her own. She lives in constant fear that she will be found out, she will lose the power she has, she will lose her son. So, she pushes Audrey away even though Audrey is the first person to really love Neve just as she is.

What makes this story unique is that it is told from the ice queen’s point of view. We get to see the many facets of Neve and not through the rose-colored glasses of the woman who loves her. No, we see all of the moments where Neve is cruel and cold mixed in with the moments where she can be kind and vulnerable. There are more cruel and cold moments but in the kind and vulnerable ones, we see who Neve has the capacity to become as she gains more insight into why she behaves the way she does.

Each chapter begins with Neve talking to her therapist and over the course of several years, we see Neve’s growth. Dr. Moore never pushes, she listens and over time a trust develops as happens with the best doctor/patient relationships. Audrey is a fascinating character. She isn’t intimated by Neve, although she’s nearly twenty years younger. I really like Audrey’s growth throughout the story as well. She hardens as the story progresses but still retains her goodness. She is Neve’s perfect match if Neve can only get out of her own way.

This is a fascinating character study of a woman who lets fear consume her and the struggles she must endure to get to a place where she can overcome those fears. It may not be wise to call A Whisper of Solace perfect, but it’s a close to perfect as I have read in a very long time. It will be a few days before I can read anything else. I need to sit with this book and with Neve Blackthorne for a while. Milena McKay continues to show that she is one of the most talented writers in our community. Her writing is layered, beautiful, at times painful but always mesmerizing. Spend a day with Neve Blackthorne. It won’t always be easy but it will be an experience you won’t soon forget.

An ARC was received from the author for an honest review.

The Headmistress by Milena McKay

The Headmistress
Published: 2/10/21

The Delicate Things We Make is one of my favorite books of the year. With The Headmistress, Milena McKay has gone beyond the brilliance of her first novel and is now firmly ensconced as one of the elite writers of lesfic.

Sam Threadneedle was left as a baby at Three Dragons Academy and is now the math chair. Sam had never felt like she fit in, like she was always standing on the outside looking at her life as it passed her by. Three Dragons is the only home she has ever known and the only place she feels close to being seen. Sam is lonely, especially after a chance encounter with a beautiful woman who she can’t seem to get off her mind. The night in NYC with the woman is sprinkled throughout the book and it’s no wonder Sam can’t get stop thinking about her. As Magdalene says to Sam, “Could it be that, with one exception, you have done nothing reckless in your entire life?” Sam doesn’t do reckless but she had a hunger for Magdalene that isn’t satisfied, even after she arrives and appears to be on a mission to destroy Sam’s home.

Magdalene Nox is one of those characters that stick with you. She is a paradox, as most incredible ice queens are. She can be cold and unrelenting but in the next moment with Sam, she is gentle and open. They have an undeniable chemistry and the vulnerability they display with each other is lovely.

The supporting characters really add a lot to the story. Joanne, Sam’s mentor, the only person at Three Dragons aware of her penchant for the ladies, Lily, one of Sam’s students and Willoughby, the rotund cat who falls for Magdalene’s charms. As I have come to expect from Milena she interweaves these characters and plots seamlessly.

I will read anything Milena writes from now until I’m too old to give a damn about reading. She could write a history on the evolution of toilet paper and I will read it. I may need a glass or four of wine, but I will remain devoted and read whatever this talented writer puts out. Milena McKay’s writing is some of the most beautiful I have every had the privilege of reading. I am very grateful she has shared her gift with all of us.