Author: J.L. Merrow
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Buy Links: ;
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Note: this title will be released September 17, 2013
A Guest Review by Larissa
Review Summary: VIKINGS! Okay, a modern day Viking, Icelandic saga’s and a MC with amnesia make for a compelling story with a touch of mystery
Some memories are better off lost in the mist…
Eight months ago, British academic Paul Ansell lost his lover—and all the memories of their time together—in an accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls. Returning to the misty island country to resume his study of the bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson is tough as he struggles to pull his life back together.
First, there’s his colleague, Mags, who treats him like glass, and summer student Alex, who peppers him with discomforting questions. Then there’s Icelandic jet-boat driver Viggo, a tattooed, modern-day Viking who won’t say much about how they know each other. Leaving Paul to wonder if their volcanic attraction is fuelled by a desire to make a fresh start, or desperation to forget the past.
As more fragments of his lost memories fall into place, Paul is unsure if he can trust himself, much less anyone around him. And he begins to suspect his accident was nothing of the kind.
“Product Warnings: Contains a modern-day Viking whose boat has V8 engines for oars, and a harsh land of hot springs and hotter passions that won’t forgive any false steps.”
A book that comes with a warning like that? How could I resist? I couldn’t of course! As a graduate of medieval studies, I couldn’t resist a story about Icelandic saga’s, Vikings and a bit of a mystery.
Lucky me, I wasn’t disappointed when I read Fall Hard, though it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
I thought there would be more action, guns blazing, but there was none of that. The focus of the story is on Paul’s return to Iceland after recovering from a near fatal fall that cost him the memories of his time in Iceland and his lover. Once there he tries to piece back his lost year, but it’s frustratingly slow as no one seems to have the answers he wants. Just what was his dead lover up to?
Then there is Viggo, a very hot, honest to God modern day Viking with some awesome tattoos. Paul might not know much about his last year in Iceland, but he does know what he wants to do with Viggo. But there is more to Viggo that just his tattoos; he seems to know a lot more about Paul than he’s letting on. So what’s the deal?
The good thing about this story is that we know as much as Paul, as the story is told from his point of view. We learn what he learns as the story progresses. This is very much the strength of the story. We discover Iceland right alongside Paul, the beauty of it and the history and of course the legend of the quite interesting Egil Skallagrimsson. Also, we learn just how sweet Viggo really is, despite his tough exterior.
There was a good balance between the several aspects of the plot and the history aspect wasn’t drawn out overly much so it bores the reader. Egil is woven in right next to the romance and the puzzle of Paul’s amnesia.
This story features normal people. Ha, I can hear you thinking: normal people? Yes, normal people. There is nothing glamorous about Paul (though he has an awesome job) and Viggo. They are your average working people going about their lives. Though admittedly, Paul’s got a little of track. This is very much what I liked about Fall Hard. They aren’t filthy rich, nor are they perfect. Paul as well as Viggo and other characters featuring in Fall Hard have their faults and their little quirks (watch out for the trolls).
So then, why the 4.5 stars and not a 5? Truth be told, it was a near thing. However the one thing I have to complain about it the big reveal (no, not telling). The story very much leads up to it, but ends very quickly after that, taking away a bit of the lovely balance we see throughout the story. Viggo and Paul have, in my opinion, a bit to work through after that, but the story pretty quickly jumps ahead towards the epilogue and thus the ending. Not a major thing, but still.
So to wrap this up: go get Fall Hard when it releases. It’s a lovely contemporary story full of Icelandic history, folklore, nature, hot natives and a mystery and all that in Merrow’s style of writing.