The Blue Viking
There are parts of The Blue Viking by Sandra Hill that I really didn’t care for, but there are also moments that are so funny that I didn’t mind too much. My impression of her writing is that it’s rather odd, at least for me; I don’t want to run out and buy all her other books, but parts of this really were hilarious.
Five years ago, Rurik the Viking had an affair with a beautiful red-haired Scottish witch, Maire Campbell. She asked him to take her with him when he left, and he laughed at her. So she cursed him: he now has a blue zigzag running down the middle of his handsome face. Rurik was extremely vain of his appearance, and his fiancée won’t marry him until the blue mark is gone, so Rurik and his men have been hunting the witch for years.
They find Maire imprisoned in a cage fashioned for her by her enemy, the loathsome Duncan McNab, who means to keep her there until she agrees to marry him. Maire’s clansmen make a deal with Rurik: if he rescues the Campbells from the hated McNabs, they promise that Maire will fix his face for him. Naturally the chemistry between Maire and Rurik is as hot as ever, but she hates him for leaving her and he hates her for cursing him. And even if they decide they don’t hate each other as much as they thought, Rurik is a Viking – he can’t possibly stay in Scotland. Can he?
Well, of course he can. There’s no particular surprise here. The question is, did I like the characters enough to enjoy my time with them?
Rurik is insufferably arrogant and vain, chauvanistic and domineering, but manages to be surprisingly likable for all that, mostly because of how he acts when he’s in bed with Maire. He’s tender and sexy. When not in a haze of erotic pleasure Maire frequently calls him a dolt, and you know, she has a point there. Rurik is not particularly intelligent. Maire is a nice person, and watching her fall in love with a sexy dolt was interesting. I didn’t love either character, but the love scenes between them sizzle.
The best thing about this book is the humor. There’s one unforgettable scene in which Maire attempts to levitate a pig that has wonderfully unexpected results. I’m still giggling.
Although I loved the humor, there are things that didn’t add up for me in this book. For instance, the plot builds up to a big climactic battle. For some reason, Hill skips the battle entirely, including the hand-to-hand combat between Rurik and the bad guy, and jumps directly to the battle’s aftermath. This was anticlimactic and really drew attention to the fact that the plot is basically a frail scaffold on which the author hangs jokes and love scenes. Rurik’s band of merry men often seem interchangeable and not nearly as amusing as they should have been, considering how very much time we spend with them.
Still, although this book is extremely uneven, the sexy parts are very sexy and the funny parts are hilarious. Some characters from Hill’s other Viking books show up, which fans of the author should enjoy. If you like a good bawdy screwball comedy, you might want to pick this one up.