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Beautiful Wreck

Beautiful Wreck - Larissa Brown Every now and then you encounter a book that you know will be an amazing book from the very first page. This is such a book.
A meadow would have been lovely. I’d come into the tank every day if I could feel lush, slippery grass between my toes, the gentle nudge of a breeze at my frothy hems. But the programmers couldn’t accomplish the immense reach and power of outdoor scenes. Not yet.

I keep trying to put my finger why I knew that this would be a 5-star book from the start, and I think that it’s the lyrical, personal nature of the book. The author’s writing is gorgeous and lush (to borrow from the quote). The settings of Future Iceland and Viking Iceland come alive in your mind as you read. Future Iceland is crowded, highly synthetic, and derives its pleasure from virtual reality. And this makes Viking Iceland, where Jen accidentally finds herself in the flesh rather than in a simulation, seem more real than the world from whence she came.

As another reviewer has said, I don’t normally read romance novels, but if they were all as well-written and researched as this one, I’d give them much more consideration. The fact that Jen/Ginn and the Viking she loves can never be together or even touch creates an extreme form of romantic tension for the story. Even more, the author has created quite a conundrum of a character for Jen to love. He’s fire and ice, water and sun. He smells intoxicatingly of fire, leather, furs, cinnamon. And he speaks with “[t]he sparsest poetry on his lips.” “Gods," Jen says, “what would it feel like to kiss?” Indeed. I wanted to know and hoped Lofn would truly clear the way for impossible unions, for these two who want nothing more than to care for each other in small daily moments. “It is hard, Litla,” he says to Jen. “To be so close, and stay away from you.” Always “[n]othing made sense,” she thought. “He wouldn’t touch me, but he couldn’t let me go. Even as he admitted his desire, he took it away.” Ah, forbidden love, how you do sting.

Even the trees are sexy in this book: “a thousand wisps of papery bark curled to reveal blush and orange and copper under the trees’ white skins.” ...And the eyelashes: “[w]hen I lowered my eyelashes I felt every one as a miniature icicle, melting into dew around my eyes.” ...And, of course, the thoughts: “I want forbidden things, thoughts with dark wings, bodies slick with sweat.” Já.

I’m curious to see how male readers will react to this novel. At it’s heart, it’s a historical time travel novel in a gorgeous setting. It’s not a heavy-breathing and constant quivering romance novel. After all, there’s a universal pain to be felt in forbidden love. And there’s plenty of sheep shearing and Vikings cutting off hands and such.

To start the year reading the best book I’ll probably read all year … maybe all decade … means that I can’t easily pick up the next book. It won’t be rolling green or fluffy white Iceland. It won’t be a gorgeously written book about forbidden love in an impossible past. It won’t be this book.

Do yourself a favor and read this book when it come out in early February. Just one warning: when you do, you'll find yourself still up reading at 3 a.m. And for breathtaking visuals that will leave you wanting more, visit http://www.pinterest.com/larissabrown/viking-love/.