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First to Burn: Immortal Vikings #1 by Anna Richland with Interview and Giveaway!

Today I have a treat – there is an interview and review – and please be sure to enter for your chance to win an eBook copy of the title AND a TicTac pack from the author, Anna Richland!

Book Review:

In her debut offering, Anna Richland provides a unique twist on a paranormal character and combines it with the tension and danger of a ‘boots on the ground’ military setting, romance and some serious potential complications.

Wulf is special forces  Staff Sergeant: we first meet him as he is being flown away from the front lines with a serious leg wound.  The call into the medical camp has the staff prepared to operate, yet he walks away from the helicopter in the midst of the confusion when it lands.  Yes, Wulf is an immortal, he has spent his entire life as a warrior, and shares those bits with us in flashbacks about his life.

Doctor and Captain Theresa is frustrated by the missing paperwork on the patient that wasn’t.  It seems to her that the Special Forces team has several instances of ‘missing and untreated’.  When she confronts the head of their division, she is shut down cold: in front of the entire, large and ominous team.  For a woman like Theresa, no is a word that spurs her interest and piques her curiosity, both dangerous to Wulf’s cover.

Richland manages to inject several elements that I have not seen before that worked into the plot: while the back and forth between Wulf and Theresa about the fraternization rules, and their struggle with them in terms of their own attachments did slow the story, it added a realistic touch and possible set of consequences that just made me want them to ignore the rules and take a chance.  The immortal edge that Wulf brings to the story adds layers of historical elements and detail, adding background to help understand his decision making.

Throughout the story, Richland manages to use a deft hand: while the story does lag slightly in the middle with all of the back and forth, the plot weaves fantasy, legend, history and present day scenes and situations to keep the reader interested and intrigued.  The romance is well-crafted and conceived, with a nice balance of push and pull that has little to do with personal hangups and influenced by the rules that govern their lives as military personnel.  With a singular respect for the job and the uniform, she brings the story to life for those of us unfamiliar with life in BDU’s.

For a debut novel and as a start of a new series, this is a winner: you’ll love the twists that Richland puts into the characters, and appreciate a romance that is harder won but sweeter for it.

First to Burn: Immortal Vikings #1 by Anna Richland  with Interview and Giveaway!

Title: First to Burn
Author: Anna Richland
Genre: Suspense
Published by: Carina Press
Format:eARC
Source: Author
Pages: 297
Rated: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne FlameOne Flame

Get Your Copy: Amazon Audible

Goodreads


About the Book:

A soldier with secrets

Immortal Viking Wulf Wardsen once battled alongside Beowulf, and now serves in Afghanistan. He's trusted the mortal men on his elite special operations team to protect his secret, until an explosion lands Wulf in a place more dangerous to him than a battlefield: a medevac helicopter.

A doctor with questions

Army captain Theresa Chiesa follows the rules and expects the same from others, even special forces hotshots like Sergeant Wardsen. She's determined to discover the secret behind his supernaturally fast healing, and she won't allow his sexy smile to distract her.

An enemy with nothing to lose

Even as Theresa's investigation threatens to expose him, Wulf is stirred by her passion. Dreaming of love and a normal life, he wants nothing more than to build a future with her. But the lost Viking relic needed to reverse his immortality is being hunted by another—an ancient enemy who won't hesitate to hurt Theresa to strike back at Wulf.

A copy of this title was provided via Author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Q & A with Anna Richland, author of First To Burn:Immortal Vikings # 1
Be sure to see the photo at the end of the interview!!

 

Gaele:

Thanks for stopping in to talk about your new release…

Anna:

Thank you! I’m excited to visit I am, Indeed during the release week for First to Burn, my debut paranormal romantic suspense at Carina Press. I look forward to your questions and anything readers ask (or almost anything!).

Gaele:

Let’s get this out of the way. Why did you name the hero Wulf if he’s not a shifter?

Anna:

The characters in my series are Vikings who were part of Beowulf’s crew. Grendel’s blood infected them with a bacteria that gave them super-healing powers similar to immortality. The only thing that can kill them is the poison in a dragon’s bite, which is how Beowulf died at the end of the epic poem. Basically, I pretended the poem was a true telling of history and worked from there. I found references to a pair of brothers named Wulf and Eofor, sons of Wonred, around line 2960 in the text, so I based two heroes, Wulf and Ivar, on them. While I think the names are accurate from a historical and a literary perspective, there are no shifters. Just Vikings. Another character mentioned in the text of Beowulf who appears in my books is Unferth, the skald (bard) for King Hrothgar.

Gaele:

What led you to combine paranormal and romantic suspense?
Anna:

After I had the idea for the characters, I knew the worst type of woman for an immortal soldier trying to hide his healing ability would be a doctor. A setting where he would be injured meant a combat zone. I wanted to draw readers’ attention to the conflict in Afghanistan, but I didn’t want to use the stereotype of Afghans as terrorists. By making the danger come from within, I think the story is more suspenseful. Additionally, having the main villains be other immortal Vikings lets me carry that thread throughout the series to its conclusion, which I think a terrorist bad-guy wouldn’t let me do.
Gaele:

In your army career, were you sent to Afghanistan? What experiences did you draw on to write the military settings and characters in First to Burn?

Anna:

I deployed to the Balkans as a peacekeeper in the era before September 11, 2001, not to Afghanistan or Iraq, but if you’re on a medium-to-big installation, a lot of the details of daily life on a deployment are universal. Truthfully, I have no experience with small combat outposts, but once you get to the size where there are medical facilities and a dedicated dining facility, like my imaginary Camp Cadwalader, certain things are pretty similar wherever you are. For instance, Burger King has a world-wide contract to serve the military, and there’s always a gym. I checked with the daughter of a friend who had been in a pretty remote part of Afghanistan, and she confirmed that they served chicken cordon bleu, my favorite dinner when I was deployed. So I made it my heroine’s favorite too.

I never met any immortal Vikings (that I know of!) when I was deployed, but I did have the interesting experience of seeing a briefcase full of cash. The hottest bachelor in the world could streak by naked, but when there’s a quarter-million on a table, no one looks away. I also remember the absurd giddiness later in the day when my team talked about those piles of green (don’t worry, it wasn’t taxpayer money, and I made sure it went to the rightful recipient). It’s almost fourteen years later, and I can still picture that room, the round table with the briefcase in the middle, where everyone was sitting, and the sudden silence as all the air in the room was sucked straight into that briefcase. Real life is so much different from seeing cash on television, so I drew on that memory for the scene with the freezer full of money.

And yes, I did once lose an (unloaded) Beretta 9mm pistol down my military cargo pants. I was negotiating with civilian border guards. Showing a weapon would have made the discussions unnecessarily tense, but no way could I leave my military-issue weapon unattended in a vehicle in the No Man’s Land between border stations. People jam guns in their belt and put shirts over them all the time on television, right?

Readers, don’t try that at home unless you’re wearing TIGHT pants. It might work with jeans, but not with baggy cargo pants. Try staring unflinchingly into the eyes of a senior border commander while a pistol is sliding down your inner thigh and you’re praying that your pants are tucked really, really well into your boots. That incident is a part of Theresa’s backstory in a scene where she’s afraid of over-sharing while blabbing to Wulf.

Gaele:

What’s next?

Anna:

Right now I’m juggling promotion for First to Burn, edits for the related novella about Cruz, one of Wulf’s mortal teammates. It’s a contemporary Thanksgiving/coming home story that will be released in late summer or very early fall of 2014, no paranormal or suspense elements. There is an excerpt at my website. And I’m also writing the next full-length Immortal Vikings book, the story of Steig, a Viking thief and conman. Unfortunately, he’s such a good con artist that he keeps changing his personality every couple chapters, from aristocratic Englishman to tough guy to sweetie, and both the heroine and I are confused. I still have some work to do on that book – but I know he has to face the one thing that can kill the immortals in order to save the heroine.

Clearing a weapon

Giveaway
Enter here to win an eBook copy of First To Burn: Immortal Vikings # 1 by Anna Richland
AND
A Tic Tac Swag pack from the author!

US Entrants only.  Drawing ends on 5 February 2014 at 23.59 PM EST (-5 GMT)

About Anna Richland

Anna lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. She writes paranormal romantic suspense and military romance in the spaces left after dealing with kids, laundry, crazy volunteer commitments and internet distractions.

Although she's not that picky about coffee, her favorite drink is a dark chocolate mocha, two espresso shots, nonfat milk, at the Dilettante café counter in SeaTac airport, because it means her family passed security with spare time. Her lifelong passion for new places (and a need to pay tuition) led her to become an army officer en route to visiting four continents and twenty-two countries. Now the places she goes are more likely to be field trips than trips to the field, but it's still fun.