Desert Isle Keeper
Edge of Obsession
I began the book the evening I downloaded it and stayed up until after one, unable to put it down until I got to its end. Yes. I read Edge of Obsession obsessively and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
The book begins with a précis of the world as is now is.
A hundred years ago, or so the stories went, the great Storms came over the course of a few tumultuous decades and kicked the world’s ass. Cities fell. Seas rose. People died.
A lot of people.
It’s dystopia as written by Buffy which means I, of course, loved it.
In this world, life sucks for pretty much everyone except for the superrich–who don’t figure in this book–and the raiders.
Harsh times bred hard men. And the hardest of these by far were the bands of raiders—groups of men who laughed in the face of what governments remained and chose to live free instead. These men took over the new, remote eastern islands that remained when the storms passed, in what was left of the Appalachian mountain range in the northeast. They swore fealty only to their chosen clans and the kings who won their thrones with strength and maintained them with cunning. They prized their brotherhoods above all else, carved their oaths into their skin and made their vows in blood and battle.
… Years passed, and in the darkness, the raiders became the monsters of their new world. Scary stories whispered around the fire, when the cold nights drew near. Dangerous men who came in the night in their terrible ships and took what they wanted, whenever they wanted.
Tyr is the war chief of his Viking-like raider clan. He and a raiding party are on the Mainland when someone shoots at them. This surprises them because only morons use guns–the bullets are waterlogged and the ancient machines malfunction more than they work. The raiders track the shooter to a compound filled with Mainlanders. (The Mainlanders are most of what’s left of the country’s population.) In the compound is Helena, a smart-mouthed woman who not only stands up to Tyr but subjects him to well-constructed, very sarcastic insults. Tyr is beyond startled. In his experience, compliant women (this is what Mainstream women are called due to the sex-limiting religion/social construct they follow) either are terrified of raiders or they beg to be taken so they may become camp girls (the raiders are known for their very sex-positive culture.)
Helena has her reasons for challenging the raider. She’s desperate to get out of the compound. She’s being hunted by Krajic–a Very Bad Man–and she has a secret mission she must complete. She pushes Tyr to the point that he has no choice but to take her captive. It doesn’t take much. Tyr and Helena have a molten chemistry–over the top, crazy, and insanely hot. He has to have her.
Helena and Tyr travel back to the raiders’ home where Helena realizes everything she’s ever learned about these barbarians is a lie. Yes, they do have all kinds of sex all over the place all the time – this is in stark contrast to the mainland culture where sex occurs only in tepid winter marriages (they last just the winter) and is done only with the goal of procreation – and the raiders are swaggeringly arrogant. But the culture they’ve created is far better, and far more just, than any Helena has ever seen.
It’s not just the lure of the raider world that’s keeping Helena from trying to escape and continue on her mission. There’s the phenomenal sex life she has with Tyr which is inventive, playful, expansive, and addicting. Unfortunately for Helena, Tyr and his king, the wonderfully rendered Wulf, suspect that Helena may be a spy. The man chasing Helena is the man who butchered Tyr’s brother and if there’s even a chance that Helena is in cahoots with Krajic, Tyr himself will have to execute her.
Tyr and Helena are a wonderful couple. They’re snarky, smart, funny, and very smutty. Edge of Obsession begins as a Viking takes a captive romance but quickly becomes a story of two equals. Helena is trying to do something no one else in her world is trying to do and never does she give up on that goal. She’s a powerhouse and Tyr never tries to make her anything less.
It’s the rare post-apocalyptic Viking erotic romance that has intricate, complex, thoughtful world-building. Ms. Crane’s done a fabulous job here–she gives just enough information about the past for her future to make sense but keeps the focus on the here and now. Her world and its inhabitants are fascinating. I’ll read the rest of the series just to see how she spins out the clearly coming conflict between the kings of the West and their wealthy corrupt bishops and the raiders and – maybe? – the downtrodden Mainlanders.
At the end of the book, I felt it wobbled. In the novel’s final confrontation, Tyr is more violent than smart and I had a hard time believing the raiders would have made some of the choices they did. Additionally, the writing, especially that describing Helena’s and Tyr’s thoughts about their relationship, was overdone.
These concerns, however, didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. I’ve already started on the next in the Edge series, Edge of Temptation. I’m hooked and I’m happy. And a little bit flushed….