Longing for Her Forbidden Viking
Ambitious Aevir, Viking warrior and freed son of an enslaved mother, lacks only an elite, wealthy bride to complete his rise in the world. Unfortunately, Saxon Ellan would come with nothing, and would even cost Aevir, since he’d have to buy off the man her father has pledged her to. Amidst Danish and Saxon political fighting, which is bubbling into armed conflict, everything tells Ellan and Aevir to stay apart – everything but the instant connection they felt upon meeting and simply can’t shake.
If you like love-at-first-sight as a trope, Ellan and Aevir will work well for you. If, however, you think a fated-mates gravitational pull is more suited to paranormals, you’ll have some issues here. Personally, I found it a little absurd that two people locked eyes and from that moment on could not tear themselves away, but I do know people who tell exactly that sort of story about their grandparents (why is it always grandparents? Was there something in the water in the 1940s?). The couple spends most of their conversations talking about the bond between them and what to do about it. Since they are regular mortal humans and not changeling wolves, I wanted to see them spending their conversations creating and strengthening that bond.
Beyond the premise (which other readers may love), how does the rest of the story rate? Pretty well! I liked the fact that these characters behaved like historical figures. When Aevir offers concubinage to Ellan instead of marriage, she responds not with insult at a familiar concept, but by pointing out that after her time as a concubine, she’d be alone again, and her goal is to have a family. Betrothals are expected to be honored, even ones without the heroine’s consent. While the jarl to whom Aevir owes fealty would like to make Ellan and Aevir happy, he won’t sacrifice the peace for it. This historical accuracy may come at a cost to some readers, because Aevir in particular makes highly unsympathetic choices that are historically realistic. (My issue with them was not the choices themselves, but the fact that they were overridden by, again, that ineffable bond between the couple rather than something more grounded).
I also liked the historical touches in the setting. It was nice to read a Viking romance that didn’t hinge on romanticizing a kidnap/slave arrangement. Reading a scene in which Aevir sets up a tent sent me down a Google rabbit hole of Viking canvas (there’s some cool stuff out there lurking under bogs!). And never fear, if you like snowbound lovers, you’re going to love that tent. At one point, the heroine makes a TSTL decision by trusting a highly untrustworthy individual despite many glaring warning signs, so that was annoying, but other than that, the plot was solid.
Viking romances, once a staple, aren’t around as much anymore. If you’re a fan of those Scandinavian marauders, Longing for her Forbidden Viking is a worthwhile read.