I was contacted by Larissa Brown a few months ago about possibly reading and reviewing her soon to be released novel, but at the time I was a little swamped with other things such as real life and a list of other books that I already had lined up. I wish that I had gotten to this wonderful book sooner! I am so glad that I finally got the opportunity to read this book, it's an awesome read and I can not believe that this is Brown's first published work of fiction. The attention to detail and description Brown provides is amazing and transports the reader to the 10th century Icelandic farm of Hvitmork (White Woods) beautifully. Brown obviously did an epic amount of research before and/or while writing this book because I was truly engrossed in the world she created.
Hvitmork is the territorial seat of Heirik who is the Herra (chief) and the men and women who follow him. Hvitmork is also where Ginn (Jen) is taken by Herik and his men after she wakes washed up on the sands along the ocean in 10th century Iceland. Ginn starts out in the 22nd century where technology is ever present and everything has become sanitized and overpopulated. The technology in Jen's time is so pervasive that people wear contact lenses that can communicate all kinds of information to the wearer. Whether it be the current temperature, historical facts of one's surroundings, or taking snapshots of images that the wearer would like to remember, it's all available at the blink of an eye. The main entertainment during Jen's time is reenactment and role playing one's favorite time in history. Whether it be the American Civil War or Victorian England it is all available to be experienced. The company that Jen works for has taken that experience to the next level by creating the "tank" where the experiences are supposed to be even more realistic. During a session in the "tank" the unthinkable happens and Jen wakes up in the 10th century where she is rescued by a group of vikings led by Heirik.
Heirik as Herra is both revered and feared by his people due to the birthmark that stains a large part of his body. Both Heirik and his people believe that his birthmark is the result of the gods spilling blood on him at his birth and is a curse, therefore making him literally untouchable. Heirik stole and wrenched my heart. When Brown writes that Heirik didn't even know how gently or strongly to touch another person it just about took my breath away. That one passage just makes you want to reach in the book and rock him like a little boy. However, Heirik is the definition of what a strong, just, and dedicated man and leader should be. Because of his "curse" he is denied all physical contact by his people and must live his life protecting and serving those who have denied him the simplest of human needs, physical contact. Instead of railing against fate or becoming overly bitter Heirik simply goes about proving at every turn his ability to lead and protect.
Ginn demonstrated that love can be achingly patient and resilient. I loved that she did not try to force her way into the arms of Heirik or insult the beliefs of the community. Ginn was able to put their beliefs and traditions in perspective even though she did not have the same superstitions binding her in fear. Ginn is an awesome heroine and in the end transformed into something that I did not see coming. Her metamorphosis was awesome and unexpected, I had to give a resounding "Yes!" when I read it.
I have to be honest and say that the beginning of Beautiful Wreck started a little wobbly, but once Ginn travels back in time the story just get better and better. Brown has woven a thoroughly entertaining read and I am so glad that I experienced this story. The secondary characters are intriguing and add so much depth to the overall story. Betta, Har, Brosa, Svana, and even Hildur are all interesting and grounding counterpoints to Heirik and Ginn. This is not a sexy hot romance. Instead it is a tension filled, long suffering, passionate love story that will suck you in, stick with you, and leave you thinking about Heirik and Ginn for days after you finish reading the book. I can't help but say it again, this is an awesome read!
My favorite line in the book is delivered by Ginn when she says "Please, Love. Kill him." Oh yeah, that's what a real Viking chick would want!
*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
*Warning: I use the word "awesome" at least three time during this review!*
In a bleak future built on virtual reality, Ginn is a romantic who yearns for something real. She designs environments for people who play at being Vikings. But when her project goes awry, she’s stranded in the actual 10th century, on a storybook farm in Viking Iceland.
Heirik is the young leader of his family, honored by the men and women who live on his land. But he is feared and isolated because of a terrible curse. Ginn and Heirik are two people who never thought they would find a home in someone else’s heart. When forces rise against them to keep them apart, Ginn is called on to decide—will she give up the brutal and beautiful reality of the past? Or will she have the courage to traverse time and become more of a Viking than she ever imagined?