Review: The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

unleashingReviewed by Carrie

I was looking for something a bit lighter with, hopefully, a bit of humor. This is the first book in a new PNR series based on Norse mythology. I’ve been looking for Norse-type books since I’m addicted to the TV series, Vikings.   I’ve enjoyed a few of Laurenston’s Dragon Kin books so when a trusted fellow blogger posted her glowing review, I went ahead and one-clicked. I am so glad I did! [Read more…]

Review: The Bastard by Inez Kelley

bastardReviewed by Carrie

Fans of BDB, Lords of the Underworld or Lords of Deliverance, you’re going to want to pay attention because this book is right up your alley!  Kelley has put out a fresh twist to a group of badass warriors, except that these warriors are not paranormal but straight from the annals of history. [Read more…]

Review: To Sin With a Viking

to sin with a viking
Reviewed by Carrie

Vikings are a hot commodity these days with the success of the History channel show, Vikings. They seem like the perfect romance heroes – brutal and primal with a whole mythology of their own. Honestly, I picked this book because the cover was super hot and I loved the title. This was my first experience with a category romance. I was hoping for some sexy Viking loving, but didn’t know what to expect beyond that.

Styr Hardrata sets sail from his homeland in an effort to restart his life. He was stifled by his brother, the Jarl, and his marriage was circling the drain after years of infertility. Styr decides to pick up his life with a group of fellow tribesmen and resettle in Ireland.

Caragh Ó Brannon’s small tribe is starving to death. When Styr’s longboat comes ashore, the Irishmen surprise the Vikings by overtaking the ship, including Styr’s wife, Elena. To save her brother, Caragh manages to capture Styr and holds him captive.

While captive, Styr observes Caragh. Her survival instincts and quiet strength speak to him as he reflects on his marital woes. Caragh’s innate kindness makes her care for Styr as a kinsman even while chaining him. Eventually they come to an agreement and Styr helps her to find food. During these foraging forays, they learn more about each other and affection deepens.

Much to my dismay, there really isn’t any hot Viking loving. The book claims there isn’t adultery, but one scene treads a very fine line without even mentioning all the emotional aspects. Styr’s internal dialog does a good job of making the reader more comfortable with his attraction to Caragh. This is where the book length really inhibits the story. I feel that had the author had another 50 or so pages more the story might have been able to develop more naturally. As it is, everything just happens all too fast.

There were many things in the book that felt anachronistic – from speech to customs to actions. When I pick up a supposed historical novel, I do feel like the author should have done some historical homework. I don’t know if that’s the case with all category romances, but this one had issues.

The novel is good for those looking for a fast read with lots of tension. As for me, the shorter length is really not my style, but I’m hoping more authors will try their hand at writing Vikings.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by Harlequin

Click to purchase: Amazon

To Sin With a Viking
by Michelle Willingham
Release Date: July 23, 3013
Publisher: Harlequin

Review: Kiss of Pride

I really, really wanted to love this book. Come on! Viking vampire angels?? That sounds awesome, right? Only… it really wasn’t.

The basic premise is that back in the day, the Vikings pissed off God with their heathen ways and worship of other deities. He was going to smite them all, until the Archangel Michael convinced Him to give them a chance at redemption. They would live as vampires/ angels-in-training for hundreds of years. Their mission is twofold. –1– To fight demons who wish to harvest human souls to hell.  And –2– to help those humans set on a sinful path –to change to a righteous one. Seven brothers make up the head of the vangels (yes, they are called vangels.) And Vikar is the head of the family.

It’s now modern times and the vangels are gathering for a big meeting with Michael. Alex, a reporter, is sent to do a feature on the town where this is happening… a town that’s developed a vampire-craze. But she quickly becomes a mission for Vikar. Alex is dealing with a devastating loss and she is contemplating some heavy-duty revenge. Vikar must help her find her way and ends up falling in love with her in the process.

There are just so many things that didn’t work for me in this book. The biggest issue is the tone. There is a slightly cheesy vibe going throughout. Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse, Anne Rice and Buffy references abound. So much so, that they were completely overwhelming and redundant. Just when I thought she couldn’t possibly reference Twilight another time… she would do it again.

As I mentioned, the good guys were called “vangels;” their enemies are “Lucipires.” The names alone felt trite. Beyond that, their little town was called Transylvania (Pennsylvania) and it featured every conceivable vampire-fan stereotype.

The vangels call the archangels “Mike,” “Gabe” and “Rafe”… which might lead you to believe that the religious elements are tongue-in-cheek, but that’s not the case. The religion in the book is the real deal. They don’t take the name of the Lord in vain, they pray a lot, and they try not to sin. Which means no sex. Instead they’ve got this running shtick about “near-sex” that follows our couple up to the very end of the book.

When our couple falls in love, it’s like listening to two teenagers. “I love you the most” — “No, I love YOU.” — “No, I love YOU.” Pure saccharine. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Vikar is a thousand years old and I saw nothing so exceptional about Alex that she would make him fall in love so quickly and completely. And as for Alex’s perspective: Vikar has basically held her prisoner and has taken over her life. But she is decorating his castle just days after he takes her captive. She forgives his bad choices at the speed of light. Why? I have no idea.

It appears that the Viking language is marked simply by putting an -ing on the end of a word.  We got boyling, girling, sweetling, dearling, and heartling IN ABUNDANCE.  Like just about everything else, it was too much.  Everything is overdone.  There is no subtlety anywhere.

The relationship resolution is predictable and the ending is a one-two punch of unbelievable convenience and sickening sweetness.

I appreciate the author attempting to give us the best of all worlds by combining Vikings, vampires and angels into one breed of uber-hero. (The next book’s hero is a Viking vampire-angel Navy SEAL!) But it just didn’t work for me. 2 stars.

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Kiss of Pride
by Sandra Hill
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: The Viking’s Sacrifice

Reviewed by Jen

Einar thought that his first raiding mission would help make him a man. But the day he expected to show his strength and his courage, ended up ruining his life. He witnessed one brother, killing another. And he would have been killed as well, if it weren’t for the actions of a brave young Saxton girl. Wilda was only 11 years old, but Einar spared her life in the raid… so she returned the favor, when she saw his brother Bausi attack him.

Even though Einar lived, his murderous older brother put a curse on him. Should he ever tell the village about Bausi’s treachery, their two youngest siblings will be killed. And just to be sure no one ever put stock in his accusations, Bausi spread the word that Einar was a weakling and coward in battle. So now he is scorned by his people. He never speaks a word, in fear that he’ll spill his secrets and activate the curse. For years he lives a lonely, miserable life. Until he crosses paths with Wilda again.

Now a grown woman, Wilda has been taken as a slave for Einar’s youngest brother Sigdir. And when she sees Einar, she recognizes him instantly.  She remembers the young man who fought so valiantly, not the coward his people see.  Despite a massive language barrier, feelings develop between the two of them.  Einar is torn between a yearning for a life with Wilda and the oath he swore to protect his younger siblings against Bausi… and he can’t even tell Wilda about his struggle.

I liked the love story between Wilda and Einar. I found it especially poignant, since it happened without words.  Both characters were so broken, which made the refuge they found in each other all the more sweet.  But it’s difficult watching the way Einar is treated.  He is so beaten-down, his self-worth is almost completely eradicated.  I wish we would have had more time to see him redeemed, both in his own eyes and the eyes of his people.  It’s a little too miserable at times and I would have liked a few more moments of happiness… maybe more than one interlude between the hero and heroine.

I could have done with a little less prayer and religious reflection from Wilda.  And a few details were a little hazy surrounding the curse, especially in how it altered Sigdir.  But the book was different from a lot of the standard historical fare and I liked that.  It wasn’t quite a full length novel… about 150 pages… but it felt longer.  3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Viking’s Sacrifice
by Julia Knight
Release Date: January 2, 2012
Publisher: Carina Press