Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Larissa Brown - Beautiful Wreck

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?

Comment: I got interested in this book a long time ago and had thoughts about reading it last year in July. That was my worst month in terms of reading time because I've started a new job then and my reading suffered. Then I had other things planned and moved the reading of this book to this month. I had time to anticipate it well, considering the opinions some people whose opinion I trust had.
This is the story of Ginn, a young woman who lives in the 22nd century and in that time people live their dreams in virtual reality settings, and they even dress like the time period they prefer. Ginn is a programmer for one of those places and she specializes in Iceland 10th century. She's developing a new scenario and testing it when some glitch happens and she wakes up in Iceland in the 10th century.
Heirik is the chief of the community nearby and they rescue and help Ginn. As time goes by and without no means to get beck to her own time, Ginn falls in love with the land, the costumes, the reality of simply smelling a real flower and earth, her friend Betta and Heirik, of course. But their relationship is forbidden because of a curse on Heirik...
First of all, the cover is awful. It's so caricatured that I'm certain it gives the wrong idea to readers. I've seen another edition with a different cover, much better, but this one wasn't really a success even though it can be a representation of what Ginn could look like.
Second, this has a sort of weird beginning.
The story starts with Ginn in the 22nd century and then the majority of the action is set in the 10th century. The story is basically about her experience living what she learned and studied and how she dealt with things she couldn't control. Ginn didn't have it easy but she was a quick learner and took no time to get used to her new life.
Of course Ginn's new life is the focus on this book. But a bigger, more interesting part is about her developing romance wit Heirik.
the thing is, Heirik was born with a birth mark on his body, a bloodred mark covering part of his face, upper shoulder, torso and leg and that was considered a sign of the gods he was cursed. Therefore, Heirik is considered untouchable and no one has ever touched him since his mother. Heirik is the chief, he does everything to help and protect the community but no one touches him thinking that would anger the gods and have consequences for those who dared to touch him.
The biggest part of the conflict is about how difficult it is for Ginn and Heirik to express their feelings from the moment they fall in love, which is rather quick, all things considered.
This brings me to the best part of the book, something that lacks in so many romances nowadays, so focused on the sex. Ginn and Heirik fall in love and they convey that feeling and others by their looks, their almost touches, their moments together but not touching, all the little things in their routines have a new dimension because they can't touch each other. It surprising how much sexual tension can be slowly developed and adjusted until they can't hold on anymore.
The plot takes time developing. I'm not going into spoilers, but things have meanings, there are reasons behind certain actions and Ginn has doubts about things too, but what she's certain of is how much she loves Heirik. Step by step they start to touch and always something minimal happens to Ginn after which gives power to the curse idea. But with time we learn many things that can change our mind.
Because this is told from Ginn's POV I think we are limited to what we could know. I think having the POV of Heirik wouldn't detract from the story's intensity.
This was the first book by the author I've read. I liked but the beginning wasn't very explicit and structured. I still don't know many things and to be honest it was rather annoying how the whole time travel wasn't properly explained. I got the feeling the time period was just a handy tool to better put Ginn's experience in evidence. The writing is mostly pleasant but I confess there was a time or two where a certain scene was happening and I couldn't follow it very well.
I also didn't care for a certain plot move that Ginn makes when she thinks her relationship with Heirik isn't happening. The end of the book had interesting elements, Ginn travels in time again before the HEA but that seemed poorly executed. The HEA happens so fast and without the sort of information I wanted. I get the inferring notion to let us think and imagine but I wouldn't mind done deals...
The secondary characters were richly done, especially Betta and Hár. I did like how those were important to the main couple and helped the plot along.
the story's atmosphere was quite interesting and I liked to see so many house chores being done and the result of an obvious thorough research by the author.
All in all, a good book, I did like I could finally read it. It wasn't as spectacular to me as it was for some people, but I do appreciate the effort, the originality of the ideas in a type of story that has seen many attempts already and apart from some details, a great romance story, which was what I wanted to see and got.
Grade: 8/10

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