The Bewitched Viking
Sandra Hill has made the sub-genre of the humorous Viking romance her own. The Bewitched Viking follows The Reluctant Viking, The Outlaw Viking and The Tarnished Lady. All of these books share characters but do not have to read before you start this one.
The Bewitched Viking tells the story of Tykir Thorksson – a Viking trader who is dragooned into going to Northumberland to capture a certain Lady Alinor. It seems as though Alinor has placed a curse on the king which caused his manpart to take a right turn. So the king has promised Tykir gifts and incidentally taken his kinsman Adam as a friendly hostage until Alinor is produced.
Tykir and his two friends Rurik and Bolthor take off to find Alinor and when they do they are amazed. Alinor is not a conventional beauty. She is tall and thin with red hair – red, not glorious auburn – and freckles, lots and lots of freckles. Tykir, Rurik and Bolthor kidnap Alinor with much screeching on her part and much fear for their manparts by the three men. This part of the book is almost too farcial and, as a lover of slapstick I never thought I’d say this, but the screeching and fighting and general goings-on were a bit much.
On the voyage back to Tykir’s home, he and Alinor fight and scrap and call each other names, but as the voyage continues, she begins to soften. Tykir is a lovable man with a funny and often bawdy sense of humor – it would take an ice maiden not to warm up to him.
At Tykir’s home, Alinor is cleared of the charge of witchcraft – it seems the king’s manpart is fine. Most likely, his problem was one of disease and not witchcraft since he had been swiving a strange woman before the problem began. But by this time it’s winter and Alinor is stuck at Tykir’s home where he begins to think that red hair and freckles look mighty fine.
The Bewitched Viking is not as funny as the last Viking tale I read by Hill (the time-travel romance The Last Viking), and is marred by a beginning that is just too loud. But a third of the way into the book, the story picks up, the farce cools down and Alinor quits screeching. Alinor ends up as one of Hill’s more enjoyable heroines. She is a shepherd and weaver. Her greedy brothers have married her to a succession of old men who have left her disgusted with marriage. Alinor just wants to be left alone with her sheep and her weaving to make some money and live in peace. She and Tykir have some wonderful fights and her term for him is troll – at first an insult and then an endearment.
I liked Tykir very much. He is a former warrior who was badly wounded and has taken up trading in amber. As a child, Tykir was abandoned by his whole family and has kept eveyone at arm’s length since then. He finds himself surprised and shocked to fall in love with a skinny, red haired, freckled witch. His bawdy sense of humor causes Alinor (and the reader) to laugh and blush throughout the book. The love scenes are bawdy and sensuous and very, very funny.
I do wonder sometimes – do art departments ever read the book? Tykir is described several times as having long blond hair braided on the right and his father’s thunderbolt earring in his ear. He also wears an amber star pendant. The man on the cover is blond and wears an amber pendant, but his hair is straight and there is no sign of an earring.
The Bewitched Viking is not an outstanding book, but it is written with a lot of vigor and humor and the characters turn out to be very likable. If you like slapstick and can overlook the over-done first third, you might enjoy this book, and if you are down and need a good laugh, give it a try – like I said, only an ice maiden would be totally immune.