First Review: A Sweeping Historical Romance and Riesling from a Box

coverharperfoxThis is the first post for this new little blogging adventure of mine, and what a book it is to kick things off with!!! Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox is the kind of book that makes me grateful for adjectives and the fact that as a reviewer I have always given myself permission to overuse them, because I want to use every damn word in existence that is synonimous with AMAZING…but more on that later…Ok, since the point of this blog is that I will try to at least enjoy one (or four) glasses of wine while I read these delicious books I read, I’ll talk a bit about the wine pairing for Brothers of the North Wild Sea. Since it is summer and the title made me think Β of the ocean and of the nordic lands I decided to go with a Reisling.

Riesling is a great summer wine. Even though normally I’m not a big fan of sweet whites, a nice cold Reisling can really hit the spot. Now getting down to business for future reference my #1 rule with wine is never to spend more than $12 dollars on a bottle…EVER. With this one I got a real bang for my buck, it Β comes in a BOX that has four bottles worth for the delectable price of $22.00. This was my first wine in a box venture and surprisingly the cheap did not impare my enjoyment, this wine is deelightful. It was fruity and crisp, I could taste a lot of pear and apples (like the ones grown by the lovely monks in the book), without being overly sweet. So for my money the 2012 Reisling from Bota Box winery in Manteca, California is a total repeat worthy wine (especially for these summer months) and a perfect companion while reading a sweeping epic with delicious vikings from the North Sea…Now on to the book!

This book is a historical romance set in the 7th Century in what is now Scotland. First off I have to say that like with all her books Harper Fox set this story perfectly. The imagery was engrossing, I was swept away. I was there looking over those cliffs, and seeing those monstrous vikingr ships charging the nothern shores.

Our eyes for this story are those Brother Caius who is a monk in the Fara Monastery. Caius is a highlander, the heir of a cheiftan who was walked away from the barbaric ways of his clan to live a more peaceful life of learning amongst his Christian bretheren. Caius has a lover, Leof, another monk, he is the monastery’s physician and although sometimes he is unsure what exactly is his purpose, he is happy there, until the night that their monastery is raided by the vikingr and his lover and the monastery’s beloved abbot are killed. The raiders seemed like they were searching for something valueable, and in their haste they just ran through whoever was in their way.

Caius is disraught and angry over what has happened. He comes up with a plan though. He goes back to his clan and asks his father for weapons, so that he and his bretheren can defend themselves from future raids…So in the shadow on their peaceful haven he trains his brothers to fight against any invaders. Things are challenging for Caius, he is missing his lover, his fallen brothers, and to make matters worse the new abbot sent from Cantenbury is a hateful man who is poisoning everyone by preachin hellfire and brimstone. Still Caius tries to get everyone ready to fight off any future attacks. The monks get to try out their new fighting skills soon when another viking raid comes upon them, but this time they are prepared and they attack. One of the vikings that Caius wounds is left behind by his comrades and being the healer he is he can do nothing else than take the man in and nurse him back to health, even is he is the enemy, and what a beautifully dangerous enemy it is, the viking’s name is Fenritsulf….The wolf.

Caius cares for Fen, he brings him back to health and in that time they get to know each other and a very strong connection is forged betweent the two men. Fen is fierce and wild, but also kind and humorous, so strong like he can protect Caius from anything. He is willing to do his part working alongside the monks helping to rebuild even is he was part of the reason for the devastation. The love story between Caius and Fen was absolutely fantastic. Fen to me stole the show, what a vibrant character, everything about him was strong and bright, it was like his presence on the page lit it up.

RADIANT…That’s the word that comes to mind for me when I think of this book, every character had a strong and clear presence, and the way that the author mixed in a little bit of magic was perfect. There are some very difficult things in this story, the poison Christianity could become to people to places, how good men and women driven by misguided religiosity could turn into mindless murderous mobs, how ignorance can blind people…How greed and lust for power can make men lose their honor and loyalties. But there were also such beautiful moments of love and unexpected kindness…Of how people as best they could and in the only way they knew how could show love, respect and lend a hand. How a community can band together to rescue each other and what they hold dear. So many good things.

I fell in love with this book, not just because it was a romance for the ages Cai and Fen had, but because it was such a hefty and satisfying story. The history, the lore, the characters, the settings, the lessons, all of it was absolutely perfect. I can’t even say that I was left wanting more. I wasn’t, this book was perfect even to the last word. When it ended all I could do was sigh, and go pour msyelf another glass of wine to bask on the great story I had just read.

I absolutely recommend this book!

Brothers of the Wild North Sea is for sale at the Samhain Publishing website and Amazon.com

Cheers and happy reading!