Fires of Winter

Fires of Winter - Johanna Lindsey 2.5-3 starsAfter reading "Until Forever", I decided to try a few of Johanna Lindsey's other books. I saw that this is the first of a 3-book series, and because it was about Vikings (again), I decided to start here.Lady Brenna is a Celtic beauty, but her father raised her to fight and hunt, like a son. Brenna even dons a lad's attire as it suits her. But when she finds out her father has promised her to a Viking chieftan's son in hopes of preventing that chieftan from destroying their lands and people, Brenna is horrified. Her step-sister, Cordella, has filled her head with atrocities and horrors associated with the marital bed; Della is jealous of Brenna, because her husband has made it known to her that he'd prefer to be Brenna's husband. But the day her father dies, the Viking chieftan pillages the town anyway, allowing his men to murder, plunder, and rape at will. Except for Brenna -- the chieftan demands that she remain in-tact for his son. But he plans for her to become his son's slave, not a wife.Brenna's pride gets the best of her in the best of times. Now, in the worst of times -- in a strange land with strange customs, she tries very hard to maintain her sense of pride and self, demanding that her new "lord", Garrick, treat her with respect. But Garrick has been burned once by love, and he's declared to never marry. Brenna is a new challenge to him. He wants her for his own and refuses to share her 'favors' with his friends, as is his usual bent. Garrick is amused, aroused, and angry in turns at his new slave. Two stubborn, proud, passionate people... will they be able to find something more than passion?There was a lot more content to this story then in "Until Forever"... a lot more "realism", if you will, of the time. Women were property - especially slaves - who were not expected to refuse their master's will, regardless of how many men that meant demanding their sexual favors in one night. Rape, in this sense, covers everything from a simple "no" - not consensual - to brute force with no regard for the woman. Yes, there's something quite troubling about that... especially when the virginal heroine finds herself stirred by her master's sexual advances. And I realize that some readers find that abhorrent. I certainly don't condone rape in any form. But in the context of Garrick and Brenna, most of their encounters start non-consensual where Brenna refuses him and he has his way regardless - but mostly plays the tender lover. That puts their 'encounters' somewhere between love-making (as even Garrick refers to it) and rape. So I saw Brenna's response as passion and natural curiosity, even though she doesn't have a lot of say in the matter.While some of the details are different, this story follows the romance template. Yet the heartache continues for quite awhile before "all is revealed", and the lovers fall into one another's arms, finally admitting their love.