I love our end of the year lists in part because, later, I can look back and see what we loved. In 2014, Meljean Brook’s novella Frozen made my #Bestof2014 list. (2014 produced several books on it I still adore: Three Weeks with Lady X, Rogue Spy, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Having Her, Off the Edge, and The Suffragette Scandal.) I’d not reread Frozen, but after reading Brook’s latest – A Heart of Blood and Ashes – I decided to see if the novella was a strong as I’d recalled. While the book isn’t quite a DIK, it is indeed an engrossing and sexy read.
It’s a week before Christmas and Olivia Martin, a kickass civil engineer who works for Gullbrandr Engineering, is pulling up to Erik Gullbrandr’s house – which is more of a defensive fortress – to drop off some papers for him to sign. Erik is the son of the CEO of the company and his dad specifically asked Olivia to run this errand. Olivia and Erik have a history–from the moment they met they had CHEMISTRY but after exchanging a life-changing kiss, Erik made it clear he wanted nothing to do with Olivia. They are currently uneasy colleagues – Erik’s always so chilly to Olivia and she doesn’t really get why – and Olivia is fairly steamed about having to run this irritating errand and subjecting herself to rejection yet again.
When she arrives, after hiking for a quarter of a mile in two feet deep snow, Erik is horrified to see her. He demands she leaves immediately and escorts her to her car to insure that she does. However, when they arrive at her Jeep they are aghast to see someone – something – has ripped it to shreds. As they make a run back to the house, Olivia is even more shocked to realize that Erik isn’t entirely human – he is a frost giant and the creatures that destroyed Olivia’s ride are Hounds determined to destroy him. But this isn’t the worst news Erik has for Olivia: He’s cursed – all the men in his family are – and, in two days, when the winter solstice arrives, he’ll attack Olivia.
I’ll come through stone to get you. I will, Olivia. The curse doesn’t let me kill myself to stop it, so you have to. I thought that if I was away from you, if I didn’t know where you were, it would be all right. But I can feel you, like there’s a chain pulling me toward you, and it’s getting stronger. If you leave now, I’ll track you down. There’s nowhere to run. And when I find you, I’ll force— I’ll…” His voice faltered before hardening again. “I’ll hurt you, Olivia.
He assures her the curse is unbreakable–it’s existed for millenia.
“This curse on my family will break during Ragnarök, when Odin’s son Víðarr destroys Loki’s son, Fenrir the Wolf.”
(I adore Norse mythology so this backstory rings all my bells.)
I have to say, if I had to be trapped in a fortress with a mostly human frost giant who can barely keep his hands off me as we try to outwit Norse-inspired hell hounds, as long as said frost giant was Erik, I’d be so down. Erik is honorable, smart, sexy, and, despite being in a terrifying fight for his and Olivia’s lives, has a wicked sense of humor. He’s a gem.
I liked Olivia as well. She’s always been profoundly drawn to Erik and now that she’s figured out what the problem between them is – not her, at least not in the way she thought – she’s damn determined she and Erik will survive the next few days.
The world building that Brook/Vane is deservedly famous for is in short shrift here – it’s a novella – but the relationship between the leads has depth and shape enough to overcome the lack of deeply defined context. I don’t love the last ten percent of the book – it’s what keeps the novella from being a DIK – but found the conclusion very satisfying.
Ultimately Frozen is a book I couldn’t put down, even on my second read. If you like sexy PRN, I suggest you give it a whirl.