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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lord of Fire and Ice by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

Lord of Fire and Ice by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (384 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

Brandr the Far-Traveled is revered by his fellow vikings: his bed skills are the stuff of steamy legend, his sword sings of death on the field of battle, and he can call up fire from thin air. Enslaved through trickery, he's determined to woo his new owner into freeing him. Too bad her heart's as icy as the frozen North. Katla is sworn to avenge her husband's death at the hands of Brandr's father. But she didn't count on Brandr's dangerous masculinity or the way he awakens her long forgotten desires. Can Brandr seduce his way free, or will love make slaves of them both?

After five years away from home, serving as a Varangian Guard for the Byzantine emperor, Brandr, son of Ulf has finally reached his beloved Hardanger Fjord. As the son of the current jarl, a strong warrior and fire mage in his own right, he is nonetheless captured, stripped and, wearing the collar of a thrall, or slave, is presented thus to Katla, head of a farmstead and all of its surrounding people. Katla’s brothers captured Brandr as retribution for his father murdering Katla’s husband. They seek to humiliate both Brandr and his father with Brandr’s thrall status. As time goes by, an attraction forms between the two. When Katla’s brothers insist she choose a husband from one of the wealthy men they parade before her, as an independent spirit, Katla surprises all by making her choice…Brandr. But there's more than marriage in store, there's political wrangling and betrayal ahead for them all. Will Katla and Brandr survive to make a real marriage? Can these two strong and stubborn people learn it is better to unite than fight? Katla will need Brandr’s help and support to save her people from the evil that is coming for them all.

Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe have written an intriguing and absorbing historical look at the people of the North, with all the harsh and unyielding conditions of the time, and the passions that ruled the people. This is not a pretty world: it is hard living, harsh conditions and danger at every turn. The people have learned that they need to fight for what is theirs, and revenge is swift in many cases. This is a well-crafted world, and I was drawn to the characters from the beginning. The authors were able to bring to life not only the passions ruling the characters, but the small joys and disappointments inherent in the rough life these people lived.

Katla is strong and stubborn, determined to care for her people after the death of her husband, even though theirs was never a love match. She doesn’t need another husband, someone to take over and ruin all the good she's done for her people. When her brothers present her with a naked and bound Brandr, she was, at first, determined to make him suffer for the sins of his father. But as time goes by, she begins to respect first his strength, and then to admire his honor and his beauty. I enjoyed watching Katla test Brandr’s limits, and her open minded appreciation of his strength and skill in all he does. I liked watching as she finally discovered that she wanted to be desired by him and her sudden insecurity where he's concerned.

Brandr Ulfson is a strong man, and an honorable one. From his first appearance, naked, shorn and bound, there's never an indication that he's less of a man, or warrior than before. He's determined to not bring shame to his family, even as he's being belittled and treated as the basest of slaves. As he realizes why he's been treated as he was, he knows that he must accept his fate as revenge for what his father took from these people: their lord, leader and husand. As his attraction for Katla grows, I enjoyed watching the small tricks he would pull, to make her accept him as more than just her thrall. I enjoyed watching as he discovered a love he never counted on with Katla.

There's a dangerous hidden agenda with one of the prospective suitors brought before Katla for her choice as husband. Katla’s brothers each have a motivation to see her wed: each has plans for a future that doesn’t include staying on the farmstead as gentleman farmers. When the danger strikes, they all realize the one who can help them is Brandr, who is now Katla’s husband. But betrayal is around every turn in the road, and soon, everyone is in peril for their lives. There are several surprising twists and lots of passion and fighting to keep the reader hanging on every word. Katla nd Brandr enjoy a very hard won happy ever after, but only after severe trials and tribulation. I recommend this for historical lovers who like danger with their happy endings.