Published by Samhain Publishing on 11 June 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
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Caius is a recent monk and physician in a community run by a somewhat unorthodox abbot. Set on the northeast coast of England near Hadrian’s Wall in the late 7th century, it’s a pretty isolated community, sitting on the sea cliffs. Cai doesn’t necessarily follow all the teachings of his new faith, but he tries to do the best he can. His biggest temptation is his fellow monk, Leof, who is killed in a Viking raid early on in the book.
Fenrisulfr is a Viking raider, from the Dane Lands, abandoned at the community after being wounded in a raid. He’s savage, wild, and contemptuous of all things Christian. Despite the disapproval of the community, Cai nurses Fen back to health, and a tenuous trust and relationship develops between them.
Can such a relationship grow? Can Cai learn to forgive the vikings who killed Leof and his abbot? Can Fen come to trust the Christians around him? Brothers of the Wild North Sea tries to answer those questions.
I have to say, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Possibly in many years. The dialogue flows naturally, with no odd turns of phrase to carry you out of the moment. There are some views expressed that seem a little out of place for the 7th century, but since I agree with them, I can overlook them. The characterizations are well done, and fit seamlessly with the various motivations. There are intimate scenes, but surprisingly for an M/M novel, they’re intimate and not so graphically sexual as most I’ve read. This is what happens when a writer has a story to tell and not just a bunch of sex scenes to string together. I found it both charming and refreshing. Something that was very surprising to me: toward the end of the book, when it wasn’t clear what was going to happen between Cai and Fen, this bok actually brought tears to my eyes! How often does that happen with M/M fiction? For me, it hardly happens with any kind of fiction. Harper Fox is to be commended, and while I haven’t read any of her previous works, they’re now on my “To Read” list. If this is any indication of the work she’s capable of, I may have found a new favorite M/M author. If you’re a fan of M/M historical fiction, this is a must read.