The Norse King's Daughter
While reading this book, I alternated between liking it and…not. The book is light-hearted, more of a romantic comedy, in a style similar to G.A. Aiken. If you aren’t prepared to laugh at the hero seeking out the heroine’s “woman-channel” as his “sap runs thick and hot” on the seventh page, then perhaps this is not the story for you. But if you can find the humor, there is definitely something to be enjoyed in The Norse King’s Daughter.
Sidroc Guntersson is in a bit of a bind. His wife just died in child birth and his father is threatening to kill his newborn daughter if he doesn’t return home in six weeks with a wife to take care of the little bother. Sidroc heads out to the closest available woman with a decent dowry and sets out to seduce her. Since Drifa quickly falls under his spell, she is heartbroken when she discovers that Sidroc is marrying her as a means to an end, even though she doesn’t know what the Viking is protecting. In response she hits him over the head and knocks him into a coma that lasts for six weeks. Needless to say, when Sidroc wakes and discovers the amount of time that has passed, his one thought is that Drifa has essentially killed his daughter. All he wants to do is get as far away from her as he can.
Little does Sidroc know, Drifa found out what it was that Sidroc was hoping to save with a hasty marriage. She and her sisters went to Sidroc’s home and saved his daughter before the time limit had run out. Since Sidroc fled, she can’t tell him the happy news that his daughter still lives. Drifa decides to raise the baby as her own and to hope that one day, Sidroc will show up and she can share the happy news with him. Of course, the fact that Sidroc has promised vengeance upon her should their paths ever cross again may put a damper on her plans, but what she doesn’t know, won’t hurt her…yet.
That is when circumstances bring the two together in Byzantium. Sidroc is working as a member of the Emperor’s elite guard, while Drifa is there to study horticulture. When Sidroc finds Drifa he determines that she will pay for what happened to his daughter. What Drifa should do, right away, is tell Sidroc that his daughter is alive and well at her home. But her biggest fear is that he will take away the girl that she sees as a beloved daughter, so she keeps her mouth shut. Sidroc wants Drifa to become his love slave for the length of time that he was in the coma. He considers this a fair punishment for what her recklessness cost him. Drifa can hardly think of a worse punishment…right?
Despite the fact that Drifa and Sidroc were engaged to be married within the first few pages of the book, their courtship phase doesn’t really begin until after all the dramatic events of the Big Misunderstanding occur. It is true that even before that the reader can see a small spark of affection and connection between the two characters, the circumstances clearly put that spark out rather quickly. The two work hard to regain the trust that was clearly destroyed by their own actions, but the way the two work at regaining it – kicking and screaming at each other along the way (figuratively, of course) – is filled with sarcastic comebacks and snarky one liners that definitely made me laugh out loud from time to time. It was surprising to me when I began to realize that the hero was actually a pretty deep guy. Until then he had been merely entertaining and it was actually working for me. The switch to something more only enhanced my enjoyment of the book.
This kind of campy, tongue in cheek humor in a romance is not for everyone. Personally, I kind of like it. You have to know going in, if you read this book, you cannot take it too seriously. The very fact that the Viking men believe that if you bore a hole in a man’s skull after a head injury, it is guaranteed to result in a lengthening of your “man parts” has got to be looked on with humor rather than any sort of historical accuracy. The language of the book, with phrases such as “woman channel” and “man parts,” is something that you have to look at as it is meant to be. If you can do that and know that the language is meant to make you laugh, then this book can be enjoyed as a fun frolic through the Dark Ages.
As I said, I alternated between liking this book and disliking this book because the pacing of the book was very inconsistent. At times, the action happened so quickly, you got whiplash from the speed. At other times, the action slowed down and was about as interesting as watching Drifa’s plants grow. The book had a lot of potential; it just seems that it needed editing to eliminate the rough edges. I was able to appreciate the book for the light-hearted adventure that it was meant to be, but I wish that some of the plot points were cut down and more time was spent on the writing that connects the events. I think that if that were done, this book would go from an average read to a real keeper.