King Eric Thorsen of the Rathlin Islands, known as Bluebeard, has been widowed once more. Though his last wife resisted the lure of the curse for six months, she eventually succumbed and Eric must marry again. Will any woman survive to truly become his queen?
Astrid Halvar will not see her family become destitute, no matter the cost. In defiance of her father’s wishes, she attends the king’s ball with a number of other eligible maidens. She is the least among them in wealth and power, so it is an utter shock when the king chooses her. Will she be able to succeed where so many other women have failed?
The king’s bride must first resist temptation for one year and one day. Can Astrid resist and will Eric survive if she doesn’t?
I really wasn’t expecting much from this, but I snapped it up anyway thinking that, if nothing else, it would be a nice change of pace. I figured the ‘temptation’ Astrid would need to resist for a year would be sexual in nature (“no cock for you until sunset on the 366th day”) and the next 80-something pages would be her agonizing over how irresistible Eric was…
That, ladies and gentlemen, was not what happened.
“Bluebeard’s Curse” had PLOT! Yes, there was steamy sex (not as much as I expected, considering it’s listed as erotica on Amazon), but that was more to show the growing connection between Eric and his newest queen. The challenge facing Astrid was dire and devious and much more complex than I expected, and it was quite unique and well thought out. In all honesty, Ms. Abel could have made this a full-length novel without losing any of the intrigue, danger, or romance. In fact, I wish she had. There were elements to this story that felt a little glossed-over—not to the detriment of the tale, really, but enough to make me want more detail.
Eric, Astrid, and some of the secondaries were the beginnings of great characters. I know it’s hard to really flesh people out in under 100 pages, and that’s yet another reason I wish “Bluebeard’s Curse” had been longer. But even so, I liked them and wanted to see Eric and Astrid get their happily-ever-after. The kingdoms of Rathlin Islands and Llys also seemed like a great setting for more adventures and I’d like to see their dynamics fleshed out in future.
My only pseudo-complaint was the word choice. There were some phrases and terms used that didn’t really mesh with an era of swords and sorcery and Viking-esque culture (“vibes”, “ex-lover”, etc.). Much of it just read as too… modern. And there were a few typos. Nothing major, but in a story this short, there shouldn’t have been any.
Bottom line; I want to see more from this author and more about the Rathlin Islands and the kingdom of Llys! If you’re looking for a quick, enchanting, page-turning read with some steamy love thrown in for good measure, I highly recommend “Bluebeard’s Curse”. (Also, the cover is gorgeous!)
*ARC provided for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Regine Abel
Release Date: February 15, 2017