Rough and Ready
Sandra Hill’s time traveling Vikings are back for another trip. Rough and Ready has a lot of farcial episodes and plenty of ultra-hot sex, but it lacks the touch of poignancy that made the early books in this series something special.
Torolf Magnusson, son of Magnus, the Very Virile Viking, time traveled from 11th century Norway to 21st century America as a young teen and fit right in. As the book begins, Torolf and his scholarly sister Kristin are discussing her findings about the evil Viking raider Steinolf, who stole their land and humiliated their sister Madrene, who stayed back in the 11th century (don’t worry – she is fine and her story is told in Hot and Heavy). Kristen suggests that Torolf might want to think about going back in time and killing Steinolf. According to Kristen’s information, Steinholf devastated the land where they used to live, and could be considered a terrorist. Torolf is a Navy SEAL, charged with eliminating terrorists, so he makes plans to take out Steinholf, and he plans on going alone. But his SEAL team declares they are going with him, and somehow the lot of them are transported back to 11th century Norway.
Steinholf and his thugs have killed the men and raped and terrorized the women in the vicinity of Torolf’s old home, and in defense, many of the women in the area have banded under the leadership of Hilda Berdottir in an area they call The Sanctuary. The women have let it be known that there’s a curse on any man who comes to the Sanctuary (his dangly part will shrivel) and so far Steinholf and his men have not bothered them. The women are amazed when suddenly a group of strangely clad, and oddly speaking males materialize in their midst. Hilda is even more surprised when she sees their leader – she knows Torolf and they used to fight all the time when they were young kids. Now that he’s shown up, they resume their squabbling, but they are no longer young kids and they’re both hot blooded.
Soon enough Torolf has assembled an army of Vikings who are also itching to kill Steinholf, and he and the rest of the SEALS train them and the women in some rudimentary combat skills. Hilda and Torolf have several bouts of hot sex when she isn’t screeching at him, and they fall in love with each other although neither would dream of admitting it. When Torolf and the rest of the SEALS time travel back to the 21st century, Hilda comes with them and is slightly injured. When the EMTs take her to the hospital, her wild talk and unusual blood type make one of the researchers think she’s an alien and he begins talking about dissection, so Torolf kidnaps Hilda and takes her to a camp run by some old bikers he knows.
All right…Rough and Ready is just about the silliest book I’ve read in some time and it would have a logical reader tearing out great handfuls of her hair in frustration. How do the men time travel? They just do. How do they get back to their own time and bring Hilda with them? They just do. How do the Vikings (who speak Old Norse) talk to the SEALS with no trouble at all? They just do. I quit trying to figure it out and simply went with the story.
And the story is a pretty funny one, but it lacks the little touches of warmth that made books like The Very Virile Viking so sweet. In that one, Magnus loved his children dearly and was passionately devoted to the land and farming. Even though both books are farces, those little touches grounded Magnus and made him a likable, warm character.
There is nothing really wrong with Torolf and Hilda, but they are so cartoony – always screeching, squabbling, and then having hot sex – that I couldn’t much warm up to them. Sandra Hill introduces a battered woman named Jolene at the biker camp whose plight mirrors that of some of the women back in Hilda’s old Sanctuary, but Jolene doesn’t play much of a part in the book. Too bad, I think if Jolene and Hilda had had more scenes together it would have added that little bit of humanism that this book lacked.
However, if you are in the mood to turn off the critical faculties and just laugh, Rough and Ready will fill the bill nicely. Sandra Hill introduces a couple of new Vikings who more than likely will have their own stories and I will be there to read them. While this book isn’t an example of Sandra Hill at her best, it’s still fun.