Series: #2 Stone Circles
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Published by Signet
Released on October 6, 2015
Second installment scores with me. And why not? Fierce Viking descendants in the harsh and beautiful Orkney Islands, betrayed love, secrets, gifts from the gods, stormy passions, and epic magical battles. It read quickly and my attachment to the storyline and characters was there at the beginning. I am now jazzed to meet the next pair to join the ancient gods’ descendants and see what happens in their struggle against the evil goddess and those who serve her.
This is book two in a series. This one flowed right out of that one and would not make a good standalone or out of order. It’s a new pair than the one before and the main plot is specific to this story, but the series arc is very strong with the previous books’ characters very present in the latter half of the book.
The story starts when Soren loses his beloved grandfather, but not before the old man tells him some fantastic things and encourages Soren to believe that he has the power to control the air and weather. Only, there was an odd moment or two when the wind seemed to obey him and he got a burning mark on his arm. Soren is distracted when he realizes the woman he hurt and lost has returned to the island.
Ran left home two years before and planned to never return after Soren betrayed her and walked away. Her heart shattered and she agreed to anything her father demanded even an arranged marriage to strengthen a business connection and gain more wealth. She finds that she is not indifferent to him and her feelings are not just anger and pain. Her stupid heart still wants him. But she pushes personal issues aside to deal with the shock and confusion to discover that she has some sort of power over the sea and all water which calls to her. Soren seems to have some answers so they must work together.
Hugh does not lick his wounds after he lost to the fireblood and warblood. They may have sealed one entrance to the world from the place where Chaela is trapped, but there are other stone circle gates into this world. He knows the prophecy and what it means unlike the other Warriors of Destiny. He will triumph and restore his goddess to the world. For now, he needs to convince the newly risen stormblood and waterblood to open the gate which only they can that is hidden somewhere in the Orkneys.
Ran and Soren strengthen their abilities and hunt down answers while trying to resist the pull of attraction and their love which wasn’t as dead as they thought. Meanwhile, the band of other Warriors makes their way to the island to unite with them against Hugh. Things drew to an exciting conclusion when Ran Waterblood and Soren Stormblood worked together along with their new allies.
Alright, so this one was good stuff. I saw marked improvement in things that bothered me in the last book that had the job of introductions and getting things set up and in motion. Raging Sea had the benefit of simply continuing the momentum just with a different pair of main characters. The pace was steady or fast and never dragged. Additional worldbuilding was dispensed evenly as needed instead of dumped. And unlike the first romance, this one also was just an issue of continuing after a break of sorts instead of two strangers hastily bonding after brief encounters. I don’t want to give the impression that the first book was bad because it wasn’t. This one is better, that’s all.
As to the characters, I enjoyed this strong and tough heroine who protected her heart, but she was still fair and able to be a team player. Ran was in a dangerous situation trying to save her father and thwart a bad guy who knew a lot more about what was going on than she did. I felt like she was stronger in many ways than Soren even though he did the best he could with the situation he was given. He hurt Ran in the past, but not by choice and hurting her was torturous to him. He has feelings of guilt, but also a desire for another chance to make a different decision now that circumstances have changed. Like Ran, Soren marveled at his gift, but didn’t take overlong accepting and using it. I loved seeing them work together as partners, but also as romantic partners, too.
“…Act as one. Rely on no one, but each other. Accept his strength, forgive his weakness.”
Aislinn to Ran from Raging Sea
In the last book, I was enamored with the villain, Hugh. I loved the complexity and conflictedness in his nature. Things were different in Raging Sea. The conflict was not evident. He is set on his path and only has one idea- free his goddess. He is sadistic and brutal. I usually don’t care for getting the villain’s point of view mixed with the hero and heroine, but I was glad for the few times that Hugh had the narration. He’s fierce and terrible, but yep, I’m still fascinated.
A few times, there were opportunities for William and Brienne to narrate between Soren or Ran’s larger passages. I appreciated this because it allowed for catching up with their story and to see Brienne finally shake off her hesitant nature and be a real warrior and leader alongside William. William is a fighter and there is nothing subtle about him. He is ready for battle and relies on Brienne to keep his battlelust that his berserker gift gives him under control. The priestly guides, Marcus and Aislynn, are joined by a newcomer in Soren’s childhood friend, Father Ander. I was sorrowful over the loss the group endured, but intrigued by that bit Aislynn saw of her future near the end.
All in all, stronger installment, fierce battles, passionate romance, and strong characters in an epic fantasy style war of good and evil. Even though these are set against real world history, they do have a fantasy quality to them. I would recommend them for those who enjoy historical paranormal romances or fantasy romances with some spice and gritty action.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.