Willow’s Review of First to Burn by Anna Richland


I’m thrilled to be a part of the First to Burn book blast event and I offer my purrs of thanks to both Tasty Book Tours and the author, Anna Richland, for allowing me to read this book for an honest review. If you’d like to see all of the blogs who are participating in this event, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

CoverRating: paw3

Date Released: January 27, 2014

Publisher: Carina Press

Series: Immortal Vikings #1

Goodreads Description:

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.



Enjoyable characters and an intriguing plot line combine to create an action packed book! Richland definitely knows how to keep a reader on the edge of her seat.

Theresa is a fun character. She’s tough as nails, driven to succeed on her own, sarcastic at times, and expects everything to be orderly, but she’s also got a romantic, dreamer like side to her. She wants to live a normal life, or at least as close to normal as she can get, and I can’t begrudge her that. I can see a lot of myself in her character, which is why I think I liked her as much as I did while reading. Wulf is a mystery. He’s not exactly a wounded soul, but he’s been through enough over the years of his life to be guarded and a bit surly at times. When I first was introduced to him, I couldn’t help but think he was a bit reckless too, and as the story progressed, that thought grew. I’m not saying that he goes out of his way to put people, or even himself, in danger, but he doesn’t hold back when he gets into fights. And I don’t care that he’s immortal…taking bullets while attacking your shooter is reckless regardless of whether you heal right afterwards or not. Still, he was an interesting character and my whiskers did curl in enjoyment during many of his scenes.

As romantic couples go, I had difficulty accepting their relationship at first. Not because they didn’t make a steamy pair, they did, but because outside of instant attraction and their military careers, there didn’t seem to be much that really connected them. Maybe I’m over analyzing things (or I missed it completely), and yes, relationships have been built on less, but I couldn’t figure out what motivation either of them had for falling for each other. I enjoyed the romance scenes, loved the banter between both characters, and cheered at the end when they got their “happily ever after,” but I couldn’t keep from questioning why they initially got together in the first place.

The plot itself was amazing. I’ve always enjoyed the myth that surrounds Beowulf, so to read Richland’s spin on it was a treat. I’m rather looking forward to seeing where she takes things in the next book. And as much as I want to talk about what happens and how Beowulf ties in to the story, I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’m sure my statement sounds rather ambiguous and for that I apologize. Let me simply say that the way in which Wulf discovered he was immortal and his connection to Beowulf is fascinating.

So what did I have a problem with, outside of the initial difficulty of believing the romantic interest between the lead characters? What kept me from giving this book higher than 3 paws? Call me an odd feline, but the book felt long to me. Several times I felt like the story could have ended, but it just kept going, one event after the other. And some of the events I felt could have either been left out or the resolution to them was to simple/too abrupt. I couldn’t help but feel like Richland was trying to pad her story by creating extra hurdles for her characters to jump through before reaching the end of the book. Not sure how much of this was done to set up for the rest of the series, or if it was just for effect, but just when I thought the story would end, I’d realize that I still had 30% of the book or more left to read. An example of a resolution that was just too simple: how Wulf handles the bad guy at the end. It’s just…sigh, I don’t know how to even begin to explain why it didn’t work for me.

Regardless, for a debut author, and the first of a series, I really liked this book and will definitely be reading the next one when it comes out. If you enjoy books that deal with myths, have a lot of action, mystery, and romance, you’ll want to check this one out and give it a try. =^.^=


“Delicious.” His slow, deep voice returned, cueing her to look into the box.
Her mother hadn’t put the cookies on top. Black lace peeked out of pink packing tissue. Jet beads caught the Afghan sun and winked at her from ribbon trim that connected two scalloped bra cups. She shoved the offending object deeper. Her jaw hurt from the pressure of gritting her teeth, but nothing she could say, nothing, would make this go away. She should shut up. Right now.
“If you decide to take her advice…” His smile lifted one side of his mouth.
What was he talking about? She followed his gaze to a sticky note that’d transferred from the tissue paper to her forearm. Not for your roommates! Share these with a nice boy. Written in her mother’s distinctive slanted loops.
She needed to escape before she surpassed her record for embarrassment, set the day she broke her holster in pre-deployment training at Fort Benning, and her Beretta slipped down inside her pant leg. Two more minutes and she’d blurt out that story. That would impress a Special Forces stud.
“Here.” She reached deep, felt plastic and tugged out a bag of chocolate espresso swirls. After he caught them, her free hand snatched the carton he held, and she jammed the small box into the top. She was out of here like crap in a case of salmonella.
“Would you like to see a movie?”
Her mouth opened a second before her thoughts gelled into speech. “What did you say?” She suspected her mother’s cooking had led high school boyfriends to date her longer than they might have, but never had the effect occurred from merely seeing the food.
“Friday night movie at our ready room. Maybe cookies would cheer Captain Deavers.” The eyebrows arched over his shades ruined his sincerity. “Team’s worried.”
“Laying it on thick, aren’t you? I know his wife’s been to three parenting meetings already.”
“We’re showing Cinderella.”
“Tell me that’s not spelled with an S.”
“Disney, I swear.” He raised a palm like a Boy Scout. “Kahananui’s pick. His girls are into the princess lifestyle. He wants to share it with them.” Lines at the corners of his mouth betrayed his struggle to hold a straight face. “The rest of the team might know a new patient for you.”
This felt like high school, when guys had three idiotic ways to explain why getting a burger wasn’t a date, but finding Afghan women who needed medical care would involve Wulf and his team. “What time?”
“We start at twenty hundred. You know where our ready room is?”
“Yes.” If he knocked on her hut, gossip would explode like a rocket-propelled grenade.
“Until tonight.” He leaned in until her face filled his reflective lenses.
Did her eyes really look half-closed? Her lips half-open? Her sports bra compressed her chest as she struggled for air, waiting for him to close the last inch between their bodies even though he must not.
He swung a second bag of cookies in the air as he pulled away and gave her the free-form salute perfected by Special Forces.
She squeezed the big box until its seams creaked. The shameless bastard had grabbed her butteroons.

About the Author:

Anna RichlandAnna Richland lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. Like the heroine of FIRST TO BURN, she joined the army to pay tuition, a decision that led to an adventurous career on four continents (if standing on the bridge in Panama that divides North and South America counts as two).

She donates a portion of her book proceeds to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for families of wounded soldiers in the US and Great Britain, and Doctors Without Borders, which delivers emergency medical care in more than sixty crisis zones world-wide.

To find out about her October novella, HIS ROAD HOME, and the next Immortal Vikings romance, THE SECOND LIE, visit her website at annarichland.com and sign up for her newsletter.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads


Anna is offering one lucky winner a $10 Starbucks Gift Card! To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below:


Posted on August 14, 2014, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.