The Viking She Loves to Hate
Grade : B+

Lucy Morris’ standalone title, The Viking She Loves to Hate, features an enemies-to-lovers romance between a princess and a commoner competing for the title of master builder in a competition devised by the princess’ father. New arrival, Ulrik. and Princess Astrid Viggosdottir face a dire fate if they lose.

Ulrik and his young daughter, Frida, arrive in the kingdom belonging to Viggo, Astrid’s father. Ulrik once saved Viggo’s life and Viggo now wants to settle that debt by allowing Ulrik to compete for a position as the master boat builder in his kingdom. Without consulting either Ulrik or Astrid, Viggo announces the competition and lays out the terms: if Ulrik wins, he receives the coveted position, and Astrid will be forced to finally marry a jarl of Viggo’s choosing. If Astrid wins, she receives the position and Ulrik and Frida will be cast out. Both reluctantly agree to the various challenges, which are to see which ship can handle the most cargo, a race, and a competition to see whose intricately carved figurehead is the most beautiful. A few days later, Ulrik’s and Astrid’s teams are drawn randomly and they begin working.

Ulrik is angry, as he feels Viggo deceived him by offering him a job and home only to tell him of the conditions he must meet to obtain them. Astrid is angry at her father’s attempts to manipulate her life but focuses her anger on Ulrik instead of Viggo. In an effort to attempt to distract Ulrik and his team, Astrid begins playing pranks on him. Ulrik tries his best to ignore her but snaps one day; he confronts her and they end up kissing passionately. Each expresses their regrets over the kiss and vows to stop letting the other be a distraction from their purpose. A midsummer celebration takes place with both teams pausing their work before finishing and participating in the competitions.

I liked both Ulrik and Astrid and was glad to see them get their happily ever after. Ulrik is a bit of a grump at the very beginning, and is concerned to make sure he does right by his daughter. Despite an injury to his leg that causes him pain and has left him with a limp, he quickly proves himself to be a hard worker and a sweet man, considerate of everyone around him. He truly becomes part of the kingdom. Astrid is not your typical princess: she has no desire to marry and just wants to build boats and is just trying to make a life she loves in her controlling father’s kingdom. I liked her well enough, although I found her pranks to be incredibly immature and had to remind myself repeatedly that she was actually a grown woman of twenty-five and not a teenager, which was distracting.

With the boat building competition being the central plot, it’s no surprise that there are loads of descriptions of that throughout. I had no idea how boats were been built then (and honestly have no idea how they are built now!) and it’s fascinating. On the downside, the romance sometimes takes a backseat to the technical aspects of the story, although this only occurs part of the time and there is still plenty of romance throughout.

The real issue that keeps this from being a DIK is the difference in status between Astrid and Ulrik. She’s a princess and he’s a nobody, and the reader is reminded of this a lot. This is often a problem in books where the hero and heroine aren’t of the same social class and it got old quickly here.

With a hero and heroine who both have odds to overcome and an interesting competition between them, The Viking She Loves to Hate made for a fun and interesting read. I look forward to whatever Lucy Morris writes next!

Reviewed by Jessica Grogan

Grade: B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : August 16, 2023

Publication Date: 07/2023

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