I’ve read time travel stories where it’s evident that the author did her research. Everything is laid out with scrupulous attention to detail and all the aspects of the story are as accurate as they can be. Viking Unchained is not that kind of story. The time travel aspects are loose, not logical, but the story is fun, the characters are likable and I had a wonderful time reading it.
When Lydia Denton stepped into the Wet and Wild bar, she only did so to humor her friends. Lydia is still mourning the death of her beloved husband Dave, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Baghdad. She gave birth to their son, Michael six months after Dave’s death and he is the light of her life. Lydia owns an exercise gym, and makes a good living, but her dating life has been all but non-existent and her friends worry about her – hence the trip to the bar.
When she walks into the Wet and Wild, Lydia is stunned to see a man who could be Dave’s double. Dave had unusual gray eyes (which Michael has inherited) and the man standing with a group of SEALS has the same eyes. He is tall, handsome and muscular just like Dave, but instead of the high and tight haircut that Dave favored, this man has long hair with two beaded braids on either side of his face.
The man is Thorfinn Haroldsson and he has Viking braids because he is a Viking from the 11th century. Several weeks earlier Finn was in Baghdad searching for his wife Luta and their son Miklof. The faithless Luta had taken Miklof and run away with a lover. They were all presumed drowned, but when Finn heard a rumor that a woman and child fitting Luta and Miklof’s description were seen in the slave auctions in Baghdad he took off to try and find them. When a group of Arabs jumped him, Finn unsheathed his sword and was giving them a good accounting of himself, when suddenly a group of strangely clad men burst in and began to kill Finn’s assailants with strange weapons.
The men were Navy SEALS led by Torolf Magnussen, a Viking/SEAL who has time travelled himself (see Rough and Ready). Torolf and Finn are cousins and the other SEALS in the unit are no strangers to time travel, so they took Finn in hand and prepared to teach him how to live in the 21st century.
Most of Viking Unchained is devoted to Lydia and Finn and their growing relationship. She accepts his time traveling with no trouble, since her good friend Madrene vouches for him (they are cousins as wel), but she has a lot of trouble with Finn’s insistence on joining the SEALS. Lydia has lost one husband already, and doesn’t want Finn to be in harm’s way. But what can he do? Fighting is all he knows, and it’s hard enough for him to assimilate several centuries’ worth of change as it is.
There is a smidgeon of danger tossed into the plot when a man who lost his wife and son in Baghdad vows to kill Lydia and Michael, but if you blink you will miss it. Mostly this is a fun and funny book, although Finn has some very touching moments when he recalls how much he loved Miklof. He insists that Michael is Miklof come back to him and the two of them bond immediately.
I’ve read all of Sandra Hill’s Viking books and enjoyed most of them – two earned C level grades and this is the third to earn a grade in the B range. I simply accept that when it comes to these books, I must turn off all logical thinking and accept it as it is. When a book is this much fun, it’s not hard to do at all. There are still plenty of SEALS and plenty of Vikings, and I am looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.