Author: Larissa Brown
Publisher: Cooperative Press
Publish Date: January 31, 2014
Recipe Variables: Sex, violence
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?
As I licked the batter from the rim of the mixing bowl, I ground into the flour and baking soda particle clumps that didn’t smooth into the concoction. My face scrunches up in consternation, but I soldier on, determined to find nirvana. I am thwarted again when the kitchen timer chimes; tricked into believing the product is done, I find the brownies gooey and undercooked in the middle. Satisfaction only arrives when I work my way to the edges that are baked just right. This, my peeps, mirrors my journey through this novel. I don’t think I can say anything that expresses this story better than the title already has; it’s a beautiful wreck.
For the first 30 pages, I was muddled in the futuristic concept of the Viking virtual reality. There was absolutely no continuity with the exposition; luckily I could grasp enough of the terms to figure out what was happening. If I hadn’t been so determined to finish due to my investment in the characters, I would’ve quit before I hit page 50. Once the heroine, Ginn, made the jump through hyperspace, the shift in pacing was tremendous. Instant chemistry developed between Ginn and Heirik. It was too easy picturing another current Viking fave (Why, hello Chris Helmsworth a.k.a. Thor. Yum!) as the brooding leader.
Even with that distraction, the plot often bogged down in Viking culture—although that did lend itself to the authenticity of time and place. And about half way through the novel’s batter became lumpy with the relationships turning into high school drama. It was almost a relief when Ginn jumped back to the future taking a break from the hurt feelings and misunderstandings. However, by the end, the author hit her stride, much like Ginn did when she returns to Viking land as a force to reckon with. She doesn’t mess around playing any more childish games.
If it wasn’t for those awful lapses in writing? editing? this story would easily cook into a blue ribbon special. Romance, action, adventure, mystery, and intrigue: they all blend together into a messy batter, lumps included.