Hands Held in the Snow is a Yuri Genre / Young Adult Web Serial Novel written by Thedude3445, author of ATL Stories From The Retrofuture, with art and illustrations by Mikayla Buan, character designer for The Acorn Princess.
The story's about a girl who meets a girl and the romance that forms between them. Beatrice Ragnell is an ace student who is studying to become a priest and help save the world. Emi L'Hime is a wealthy bureaucrat's daughter who resents her family for keeping her in an engagement to a noblewoman she's never even met. The two meet at the library, bond over books... and that's where their story begins. At the same time, though, their home city of Balarand has been conquered by The Empire, and there's a lot of tension rising. That's not going to stop them from falling deeply in love with each other, though.
It's a Slice of Life Queer Romance story filled with Coming of Age drama and some serious issues about a military occupation by a foreign government, but it is also an adorable, WAFFy Slice of Life story about two young women having a great time together.
This series provides examples of:
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Subverted by Emi L'Hime. She comes across as cold, stoic, and princessly to strangers, but the moment you peel past that, it turns out it was all a cover for her intense social awkwardness.
- Animesque: The entire web novel is styled after Japanese Light Novels, all the way down to featuring in-story black-and-white illustrations.
- Arranged Marriage: Emi L'Hime is engaged against her will to a noblewoman named Lady Khara, marking an extremely rare case of same-sex arranged marriage in fiction.
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Beatrice and Emi make half their relationship out of Emi being silly and Beatrice setting her straight. They really should be a Comedy Duo, shouldn't they?
- Cast Full of Gay: Almost every character who isn't a parent is some form of LGBT.
- The Empire: The city of Balarand has been under occupation by the Empire of Dannark since before the start of the story. They aren't turning the whole place into a dystopian nightmare, so they aren't Obviously Evil, but there does appear to be a lot of protests and resentment towards them.
- Fantasy Counterpart Religion: The Church is very much a Fantasy Pantheon variation on the Catholic Church. They are a large semi-political organization that almost everyone follows, and priests take a Vow of Celibacy.
- Framing Device: The story begins with the framing device of a grandmother telling a story to a grandchild. The narrator usually disappears into the story, but sometimes makes side comments.
- Moe Couplet: Two cute characters get together. Romance Ensues. Then... they get even cuter when they share a scene.
- One Head Taller: Beatrice is almost exactly one head shorter than Emi.
- The Power of Love: discussed by Beatrice and Bodhi in Chapter 23, where Bodhi wonders if humans could gain better magical abilities with stronger emotional connections. Sadly for him, Beatrice shoots the idea down as impossible.
- Show Within a Show: All sorts of fake book titles show up, including a book series called The Elf Cycle that Emi and Beatrice's dad are fans of.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Tia Knoll, the very rich and very sly nobleman, crossdresses in almost every appearance so far, but nobody comments on it much beyond curiosity.