I love cheap and tasty wine, reading stories about men falling in love and making good food…Here is where I mix all three.
This book is a historical romance set in the 7th Century in what is now Scotland. First off I have to say that like with all her books Harper Fox set this story perfectly. The imagery was engrossing, I was swept away. I was there looking over those cliffs, and seeing those monstrous vikingr ships charging the nothern shores.
Our eyes for this story are those Brother Caius who is a monk in the Fara Monastery. Caius is a highlander, the heir of a cheiftan who was walked away from the barbaric ways of his clan to live a more peaceful life of learning amongst his Christian bretheren. Caius has a lover, Leof, another monk, he is the monastery’s physician and although sometimes he is unsure what exactly is his purpose, he is happy there, until the night that their monastery is raided by the vikingr and his lover and the monastery’s beloved abbot are killed. The raiders seemed like they were searching for something valueable, and in their haste they just ran through whoever was in their way.
Caius is disraught and angry over what has happened. He comes up with a plan though. He goes back to his clan and asks his father for weapons, so that he and his bretheren can defend themselves from future raids…So in the shadow on their peaceful haven he trains his brothers to fight against any invaders. Things are challenging for Caius, he is missing his lover, his fallen brothers, and to make matters worse the new abbot sent from Cantenbury is a hateful man who is poisoning everyone by preachin hellfire and brimstone. Still Caius tries to get everyone ready to fight off any future attacks. The monks get to try out their new fighting skills soon when another viking raid comes upon them, but this time they are prepared and they attack. One of the vikings that Caius wounds is left behind by his comrades and being the healer he is he can do nothing else than take the man in and nurse him back to health, even is he is the enemy, and what a beautifully dangerous enemy it is, the viking’s name is Fenritsulf….The wolf.
Caius cares for Fen, he brings him back to health and in that time they get to know each other and a very strong connection is forged betweent the two men. Fen is fierce and wild, but also kind and humorous, so strong like he can protect Caius from anything. He is willing to do his part working alongside the monks helping to rebuild even is he was part of the reason for the devastation. The love story between Caius and Fen was absolutely fantastic. Fen to me stole the show, what a vibrant character, everything about him was strong and bright, it was like his presence on the page lit it up.
RADIANT…That’s the word that comes to mind for me when I think of this book, every character had a strong and clear presence, and the way that the author mixed in a little bit of magic was perfect. There are some very difficult things in this story, the poison Christianity could become to people to places, how good men and women driven by misguided religiosity could turn into mindless murderous mobs, how ignorance can blind people…How greed and lust for power can make men lose their honor and loyalties. But there were also such beautiful moments of love and unexpected kindness…Of how people as best they could and in the only way they knew how could show love, respect and lend a hand. How a community can band together to rescue each other and what they hold dear. So many good things.
I fell in love with this book, not just because it was a romance for the ages Cai and Fen had, but because it was such a hefty and satisfying story. The history, the lore, the characters, the settings, the lessons, all of it was absolutely perfect. I can’t even say that I was left wanting more. I wasn’t, this book was perfect even to the last word. When it ended all I could do was sigh, and go pour msyelf another glass of wine to bask on the great story I had just read.
I absolutely recommend this book!