Sunday, January 17, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Fires of Stone (The Children of Terra, #2) / Annika Brynley

TITLE: Fires of Stone (The Children of Terra, #2)
AUTHOR: Annika Brynley
PUBLISHER: Self-published

Science Fiction/Fantasy -- Romance

Caitlin has spent her entire life underground as a member of a high-tech society that developed after a war supposedly rendered the surface uninhabitable. But now, several hundred years after the inhabitants of Atlantis gave up on the earth, it's been discovered that not everyone perished, and Caitlin is among the first of her people to travel to the surface. But she scarcely has a chance to explore before she's kidnapped by one of the comparably primitive bands of humans who survived on the surface world. She soon finds herself the captive of a clan leader named Draken, whose old-fashioned culture seems barbaric to her. Yet the more she learns about Draken and his culture, the more she realizes that both are more complex than she initially gave them credit for. And the more time she spends with the handsome warrior, the more she's drawn to him. Even though he often infuriates her. 

Fires of Stone is a deliciously fun romance novel about a modern woman and a warrior of yesteryear. It's like a time travel romance without actual time travel, thanks to Annika Brynley's unique world-building. The clash of cultures, traditions, perspectives, and attitudes makes their relationship a thrill to read about, especially with the heated love/hate dialogue. Caitlin is a strong and relatable heroine who won't take crap from anyone. Draken, meanwhile, is a powerful presence who can be either an infuriating barbarian or a surprisingly tender suitor depending on the situation. 

Meanwhile, the rich descriptions of Draken's tribal society make the sci-fi/fantasy world come to life on the page. Like Caitlin, I found myself unexpectedly drawn toward this different and fascinating culture. The surface holds a much larger and more complicated world than Caitlin imagined, and it unfurls before both her and the reader as we learn about the society that evolved on the surface while the Atlanteans were hidden underground... the politics, the rivalries, the battles.

While Fires of Stone is technically a sequel, it reads well as a standalone. I actually read an advance copy of it before going back and reading the first book in the series, The Love Beneath, which revolves around a different romantic pair and focuses more on the high-tech underground world of Atlantis. It occupies a funny space between sci-fi and fantasy.... while the set-up is sci-fi, this particular story reads more like fantasy due to the depictions of an ancient-seeming culture. But whichever spec fic genre it falls under, it is at its heart a romance. I had a great time reading about the whirlwind of emotions and desires that fuel Caitlin and Draken's tempestuous romance. I had a blast reading this story, and I look forward to the sequels!

Annika Brynley currently lives in New Jersey and she is as passionate about reading as she is about writing. She developed her love for stories and storytelling at a very early age, when she would listen to her grandmother tell stories of epic proportions. She has been spinning stories in her head ever since. She has a facility for languages—she speaks four currently—and earned her BA in Spanish from Rutgers University.

Since then, she has worked in the financial services industry, joined the Army, visited the Grand Canyon and New Orleans and been deployed to Iraq in 2008. She had a personal epiphany not too long after her return home and she began to seriously pursue her love of writing.

She is still holding out for Mr. Right, but in the meantime, when she is not working or studying, she can be found curled up with a good romance or writing one.

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