REVIEW: Lord of Fire and Ice by Connie Mason with Mia MarloweMonday, July 23, 2012 1:00
I have to say that I’m enjoying this collaboration between the old and new guard of historical romance that Sourcebooks has brought about. The characters and storylines so far born of this joining are intriguing and fun. The snatches of humor balance out the evilness of the times and how these characters had to live day to day. They took life as it came to them, lived it the best they could, and hopefully survived to live happily ever after. Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe put all that together into stories that satisfy the romance reader.
Brandr the Far-Traveled is returning home after five long years away, after seeing other parts of the world and learning their secrets, when he’s waylaid by a group of men. He is enthralled and given to their sister, Katla the Black. She’s looking for revenge against Brandr’s father for the death of her husband. What better way to exact that revenge than with the man’s son, especially since the man himself is now dead. But this thrall is not the usual slave. Nor the usual man. Though he vows not to run, Brandr doesn’t bow to her completely when she commands him. Learning his father has died and his brother, the current jarl, is ill, Brandr must bide his time with Katla before making it home to see how all fares. He doesn’t consider that much of a hardship, however, considering how feisty and sensually alluring his mistress is.
Having freedom to do as she wishes since becoming a widow, Katla is also the sole bearer of the responsibility of her people. Though she has a big and loving heart and she enjoys taking care of everyone – along with her errant brothers – what she’s just beginning to realize is how stressful it all is. Some help would be a welcome change. When her brothers coerce her into choosing a new husband from three suitors they will pick for her, she goes along with it, hoping they won’t be able anyone too soon but wishing for the right man to share her burden. She’s surprised, however, when two of her three choices visit their village and are eager to become masters of her domain, each for very different reasons. But it’s Brandr who has shown her affection, loyalty, and, she hopes, love, despite the fact he’ll forever be branded a slave.
Unknown to all the residents throughout the fjords, evil is preparing to rear its ugly head in an attempt to take over and bring forth the Old Ones who long ago hungered for blood and death. It’s not until Katla is forced to marry Brandr, thus releasing him from his enthrallment, and he then forces her to accompany him home that this evilness is discovered. Brandr must go behind his brother’s back to defend their home, using his gift of controlling fire to fight against insurmountable odds. It’s on this journey that Katla learns more about herself than she ever thought possible, that she receives two of the greatest gifts of her life, and that she may lose it all if the gods feel she has too much.
I like how the relationship grows between Brandr and Katla, from master and slave to lustful lovers to respectful partners full of love for the other. Katla has to learn to trust if she wants the love she’s always dreamed about. Of course, it’s not easy for a woman in her situation to do so. Brandr is full of life, humor, and is as sexy as can be. And all that is much more admirable once you find out how he grew up. You’d expect him to be bitter and sarcastic. The love scenes are intense but also fun between them. They really do have a good time together once they begin to know each other.
I don’t read many Viking stories, but I feel these authors have the feel of the times and the way of life these people would have had. They pull no punches when evil and/or just plain meanness is needed to give scenes a dose of reality. Katla’s brothers have a lot of growing to do, especially her oldest sibling, and it’s nice to see that and how he begins to relate to her better. The villain is one piece of work, megalomaniac that he is. I enjoyed the way he’s double crossed and then gets what’s coming to him at the end.
While this book, for me, isn’t as good as their first collaboration, Sins of the Highlander, Ms. Mason and Ms. Marlowe still pack a good wallop with characters and storyline, along with hard-won love and romance. A fine job, indeed!
His duty is to fulfill her every desire…
Brandr the Far-Traveled has seen the world and a good many of the beautiful women in it. His bed skills are the stuff of steamy legend, his sword sings death, and he can call up fire from thin air. No one ever thought he could be enslaved through trickery and forced to wear the iron collar of a thrall—least of all him.
Until all she desires is him…
Katla the Black isn’t just called so for her dark, silky hair. His new mistress has a temper as fierce as a warrior’s and a heart as icy as the frozen North. But inch by delicious inch, Brandr means to make her melt…
Read an excerpt.