Actually, Im inclined to give Greedo the upper hand in this little arm-wrestling match, since Garrick spends the entire book mooning over mugs of milky mead & bemoaning his poor broken heart. Even worse, both Jar-Jar & Brenna are the sorriest excuses for anything thats noble in heroic stories. Thats letting Brenna & Garrick down too easy. DELLA: Ha. Now youll never know that sex is actually a very good time. DELLAS HUSBAND: Viking fodder. BREN: Im as good as any boy! DELLA: I still think those vikings will rape us. BREN: Then go sit in a corner & be useless, just like all women who do womanly things for the good of patriarchal society. BREN: I will never be tamed! LINNET: Please dont kill her for giving you attitude. BREN: Ill sit alone & pretend I cant understand your language. Visual interlude: GARRICK: Dad, whos this hottie slave you gave me? GARRICK: But I dont want a wife. BREN: Give me a sword & Ill prove myself, you Viking bastards! BREN: Ill stomp my feet & demand to be treated with privilege solely because my name is Brenna & Im better than all of you losers who cant understand why Im not behaving like a cowardly woman. Visual interlude: GAR: Shut up & finish making this rug. BREN: I wont. BREN: I wont. BREN: Thats because I will never be tamed! BREN: Speaking of which, I refuse to drink milk. BREN: Milk is for babies! GAR: ...I like milk. BREN: Fuck you & fuck milk. Visual interlude: GARRICK: Now that youve kept your arms akimbo for three days straight, its time I raped you to show Im the master here. BREN: Because my sister told me sex was hurty & painful & unpleasant & Ive inexplicably believed her all-knowing about this topic. Ill kill two birds with one stone & break you in like a proper slave. BREN: I dunno GAR: Lemme show you. BREN: Im a Strong Woman. Maybe Ill use your desire for me as a weapon against your emotional armor & make you regret treating me like shit. BREN: Ha, I only agreed to make your rug to throw you off the scent of my escape plan. You can save my life, because Im an utter FAIL at Viking stuff like, yknow, killing with spears & arrows. BREN: Sure thing, sport. BREN: But if you hadnt given me milk earlier I wouldnt have tried to escape. BRENNA: I'll just put my arms akimbo & stomp my feet & dare you to abuse me like a slave, so I can hold that over your head to make you feel emotions. Visual interlude: CEDRIC THE GROTTY KIDNAPPER VIKING: Ah-ha! CEDRIC: Because Im a grotty kidnapper & I like to inflict pain on my victims. BREN: I cant hear you, grotty kidnapper Viking. Im too busy wandering for weeks in the snow because Garrick & his awesome manly-male organ think Ive run away. GAR: Youve hurt my feelings & I wont forgive that. Visual interlude: GAR: Really? BREN: That is what pregnant means. And now Ive inexplicably developed a terror that youll leave my newborn babe on the hillside & destroy it like the heathen Viking murderer you are! GAR: I wouldnt kill my baby. And just to prove how much I want you to go away, Ill stomp my feet & put my arms akimbo & ride around hunting pelted animals while Im eight months huge with sprog! BREN: I dont care. LINNET: Oh noes, youre having your baby prematurely. Dont let Garrick kill it while Im unconscious. BREN: Hes right. Now Ill take Brenna again & try to cross the fjord. BREN: You leave my baby alone! CEDRIC: I dont want your baby, biatch! BREN: Get our baby, Garrick! GAR: Get out of the fjord, Brenna! Visual interlude: CEDRIC: Get in this damn boat, slave! BREN: Get off my leg, Cedric! GAR: Stop distracting me from our baby, woman! BREN: I will never be tamed, boys! GAR: And there goes the baby!
Although Brenna does annoy some friends who have read this book, I liked her. I went on to read way too many Viking books until I got sick of the genre, and I rarely read them now. I can attribute my love of historical romance to this book. I love historical romance because I love learning about days gone by, and one of the best ways to learn is with an interesting story to lead you down the path of learning. This book has a really good secondary cast whose stories you care about. I haven't read this book in years, but I have forgotten very little about it. Although Lindsey newer books don't move me the same way they used to, she will always be one of my all-time favorites because fundamentally, she really is a great storyteller. So if you want to read a non-PC, fairly accurate romantic tale of Vikings and the women they love, I suggest this book to you.
I have a love-hate relationship with Woodiwiss's books - sometimes they're on on point, sometimes they miss the point - but I'd never actually read anything by Lindsey. Not only do they not honor their agreements with the Celts (who they regard as their enemies because they once kidnapped the leader of their son and held him captive), but the man who was pledged to Brenna - Garrick - hates women and refuses to marry ever again. Brenna is the only woman who escapes being raped during the Viking raid because her glowering puts off the Vikings. Speaking the hero, when Garrick comes back from his hunting trip, he's surprised to see Brenna in his bed. I think my biggest problem with this book is how the relationship between Garrick and Brenna plays out. The way rape is portrayed in this book is also problematic. I would consider what transpires between Brenna and Garrick rape, because most of the time, sex begins with her begging him or telling him not to. Especially since rape in this book is kind of divided into two categories: there's the hero's version of rape, where it always turns out to be good in the end, and then there's villainous revenge rape, where the rape is done by a bad guy because he gets off on pain or wants to hurt someone else through her, etc. Even Garrick himself admits it's rape, because at one point, Brenna asks him why he won't free her. Most of the book, though, consists of Brenna and Garrick arguing with each other, Brenna throwing another tantrum, and then Garrick getting frustrated and either a) threatening her with violence or rape, b) storming off to rage-hunt in the woods, or c) telling other men not to touch her. I can see why people might like FIRES OF WINTER - it has a lot of tropes that people find titillating (hero with issues, captive romance, Viking, "strong" heroine) - but this book wasn't for me at all. I would have liked this book more if Garrick had been portrayed as the ruthless, unfeeling man he was & Brenna was portrayed as slightly less childish.
There's just something about the way Lindsey writes, that takes me back into time with warrior heroes and strong, spitfire heroines. Brenna is taken as captive and given to Garrick, who hates women. The conflicting relationship between them was great and I loved every minute of it. Fan of: bodice rippers, captive/captor, almost irredeemable heroes, strong heroines, and great plots?
It got me thinking that I should probably come up with a personalized Viking BR hero yardstick. So I asked myself this: Does the hero in this Viking BR make me want to be the lucky female thrall who gets ritually raped, strangled/stabbed, then tossed onto his burning funeral ship? He revved me up about as much as this Viking does: One of these days Im going to have to realize that, in order to enjoy a Johanna Lindsey romance, I need to put on my durrrrrrr face to convince myself that her swiss cheese plots, her slapdash pacing, her schizophrenic bratty heroines, and her cardboard heroes are Teh Awsum. Id kinda like her books to be seriously good. Maybe I'm irreversibly disappointed with my old high school self for thinking this was good writing. Like other early Lindsey heroines, Brenna was A Snotty Brat. Does Garrick do anything Viking? The only good parts of the book were the glimpses into the home life of the Viking settlement. Garrick's dad Anselm and the shepherd puppeh "Dog" also provided some much-needed "Oh look, something good!" moments.
Brenna is still being given to Garrick, as a slave now instead of a wife, but after his father killed or enslaved basically everyone she knew, I was wondering how she would fall in love with him. Almost everytime after that Brenna would refuse (she couldn't willingly give herself to someone who wasn't her husband), but she secretly wanted him to 'use his force on her'. There she realizes she loves Garrick. She tells him in the heat of the moment later (of course she had refused to have sex with him this time too) and he tells her he has no love to give back. She went through hell and used love as her motivation to get back home and then Garrick turns his back on her, calls her a liar, and gives her to his father. Garrick's father freed Brenna. Garrick's been brooding on his ship while all this was going on and comes home to rescue Brenna after an assassination attempt and in labor. Brenna won't reconcile unless he believes her and so is determined to sail back home. Said kidnapper hits Garrick on the head knocking him out and kidnapping Brenna...again. Brenna escapes and is reunited with Garrick to find out he left Selig with good old trusty Yarmille. Now that Brenna is a freewoman and all, she and Garrick get married and cut.
But Lindseys viking tale really doesnt get started until the H/h meet long about 70 or 80 pages in Independent Celtic beauty, Lady Brenna is an oddity to be sure, walking around in mens trousers and trained to war like any son of a chieftain. However the Vikings entered the deal under false pretenses, and on the day of her fathers death, they strike with a fury, killing and taking captive all those Brenna love. Despite her anger at her circumstances part of Brenna instantly wishes things were different between Garrick and she- that they would have indeed been introduced to be man and wife- but his hated father ruined all that with his cruel raid and the gorgeous Vikings determination to think of her nothing but his property rankles even more. Like I said, this book is old school- brutish men, taking what they want with the big misunderstanding running the majority of the plot. (Thats saying a hang of a lot since I cant remember some of the plots and characters of books I read only weeks ago!) Her novels once had a certain kind of thrill, and sad to say, its been long gone from her recent releases.
My love and respect for Brenna were too intense to be ignored. But I've read similar stories where the writer was able to pull it off without focusing too much on rape and adultery. Sorry, but reading about adultery, rape and slavery is not my idea of a good book during my day off. And now we go to Brenna, the only saving grace of this story. I appreciated how she handled all the shit thrown at her, and I especially loved the fact that she demanded nothing less than marriage and true love from Garrick. He frustrated the hell out of me and I hated him, especially when he didn't even believe Brenna when she told him about Cedric.
By 2006, with over 58 Million copies of her books have been sold worldwide, with translations appearing in 12 languages, Johanna Lindsey is one of the world's most popular authors of historical romance. Johanna's books span the various eras of history, including books set in the Middle Ages, the American "Old West" and the popular Regency England-Scotland.