Awesome Alternatives Review: Fires of Winter, by Johanna Lindsey

 

Awesome Alternatives is a review category in which I feature novels that are not paranormal or fantasy.  While they are my favorite genres, that doesn’t mean that I don’t also love books in other genres too sometimes.  The book I’m highlighting today is a perfect example.  While it isn’t PR or UF, I absolutely loved Fires of Winter.  The only rule I have made for myself with this feature is that I’ll only publish Awesome Alternatives when I’ve rated a book 5/5 Cups.  That means you’ll only be seeing off-genre reviews when I’ve loved a book enough to want to share it with everyone.  I hope you enjoy this feature! 

Summary:  Lady Brenna has been promised in marriage to the son of a Viking Chieftan.  Her father loves her dearly, but he is also responsible for the lives and safety of the village people who rely on his leadership.  In order to protect his people from the raiding Vikings who have pillaged their way through Celtic lands, he sought to form an alliance with Vikings through his daughter’s marriage.

Her father’s intentions were honorable, and Brenna had every intention of following through with his promise.  But on the day the Vikings came for Brenna, they captured her (as well as several other women) and destroyed the village in spite of their promise.  Except for the stolen women and a few people who escaped to the woods, everyone else in the village was murdered.  The Chieftan never had any intention of allowing the marriage occur because he viewed all Celts as enemies.

Upon arrival in Norway, Lady Brenna is given to Garrick, the Chieftan’s second son.  Technically she is a slave, but Brenna has been raised as a proud warrior and refuses to accept anyone as a master.  She fights and challenges Garrick at every turn, frustrating and infuriating him to no end.  However, she does manage to gain his respect.  Although she does not understand the Viking world, she eventually learns to see Garrick as more than just a barbarian. 

The relationship between Brenna and Garrick is continuously challenged.  Besides their own struggles with each other, they also have to face jealous exes, manipulative relatives, and clan enemies.  Nothing between these two is easy.  Is their fledgling love strong enough to survive it all?

Review:  Loved it!  OMG, talk about your alpha male characters – these men are literally barbarian warriors.

What I loved most about this book is that the author did not try to romanticize the Viking culture.  It was harsh and deadly, and the idea that two people could find love in such a place and time was what made this romance worth reading.  Their relationship faced challenges that would never be found in a contemporary romance novel.  It was the uniqueness of the culture, the quality of the writing, and the appeal of the main characters that earned this book a 5 Cup rating.

Although not a paranormal, I think this book may appeal to many PR fans out there.  One of the qualities that attract readers to the PR genre is the element of danger.  Fires of Winter has that element, it is just not in a supernatural way.  It also has the sense of clashing cultures, much like PR writing achieves through the introduction of difference species.  It isn’t as far of a stretch as you might think.

This book is not going to be for everyone.  Please keep in mind that the Vikings were not a gentle group of men.  Vikings were barbaric killers.  The word “rape” would not have been part of their culture because a Viking was entitled to take any woman who was his property.  Fidelity was not normal for men.  And any child who was not claimed by a father, whether bastard or legitimate, would be left to die.  The author did NOT sugar coat the Viking nature in this novel.  So if you are not comfortable with the historic correctness of her writing, then you might not want to dive into this one.

Bearing in mind the above warning, I recommend this book to fans of both historical and paranormal romance.  If you like Jaid Black’s Viking Underground series, you are going to love this series.

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