Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-91675-1
Historical Romance, 2016
Of late, Book Depository sends me the UK editions of Harlequin Historical books, despite the fact that I paid for them in US Dollars. I should probably do an analysis to see paying in which currency is cheaper for me, but my purse weeps anyway in light of the current currency exchange. This is relevant when it comes to Harper St George’s One Night with the Viking, because the fuller image on the cover shows the elegant back of the woman. This is such in the US version. The UK edition, however, cuts the woman off rudely around her mid-back and then moves the fur covering her rear end all the way to the cut-off point. I guess they just don’t like book covers to be sexy in the UK. It’s a shame. I’d have loved to keep the book in a glass case, if only for the cover, if they had sent me the US version.
Oh yes, the story. Kadlin and Gunnar were childhood friends, and as puberty hit and the hormones called, both developed feelings for one another. Gunnar was a fatherless kid abandoned by his mother, and Kadlin was the only person who cared for him, so it wasn’t surprising that he wanted more than friendship from her. I have no idea what she saw in him, though. Hormones at work, I’d guess. Because Gunnar knew he was what he was – and if you forget even for a second, don’t worry, he’d keep bleating about this until you’d want to beat him bloody to get him to shut up – and because Kadlin was promised to his brother, he stayed away.
Well, at least until they are older, at the start of the story, when Kadlin offers herself to him and he vigorously humps her a few times. Oh, don’t worry, in romance novels virgins can do it a hundred times non-stop without experiencing any discomfort, so Kadlin has a great time. However, Gunnar realizes that he must be noble and awesome, so he coldly says some cutting things to her the morning after to drive her away from him, and then takes off, patting himself in the back that he is the most selfless man in the world to avoid chaining the woman he loves to a MOTHERLESS and FATHERLESS BASTARD UNDESERVING OF LOVE of a good woman because he is FOREVER UNWORTHY AND UNLOVABLE. Yes, the degree of his angst calls for all of those caps, because his angst, people, is VERY IMPORTANT as no other angst can ever compare to THE PAIN OF A BLOODTHIRSTY FATHERLESS MOTHERLESS LOVELESS HEARTLESS WIFELESS VIKING. Shall I put sixteen exclamation marks at the end of the previous sentence? Trust me, even if I did that, it’d still cannot compare to the intensity of Gunnar’s rending of his hair shirt in this entire story.
Anyway, just like a typical man, while Gunnar is busy pleasuring himself by convincing himself that he is the most selfless martyr in the universe, Kadlin discovers that she is pregnant. Oops. Fortunately, there is the obligatory much older man who is willing to take her in and give both her and the brat a decent roof over their heads.
And then we cut to a while later, when the wounded Gunnar is back in Kadlin’s life. Will he discover the fact that his BLOODTHIRSTY FATHERLESS MOTHERLESS LOVELESS HEARTLESS WIFELESS VIKING SPERM has made a baby with Kadlin? Will he get over his BLOODTHIRSTY FATHERLESS ET CETERA WOES to protect Kadlin from that villain bent on rape and molestation, the kind that they always have in stories of this sort?
You can probably guess my issue with this story by now. My goodness, I don’t know what they put into Gunnar’s coffee or whatever every morning, but I have never seen a man so determined to whip himself for every single thing, in such a degree and intensity in a long time. By the time page 100 rolls in, I am already thinking that it would be an act of mercy to put this bloodthirsty fatherless et cetera witless buffoon down, and by the time the story mercifully ends, I’m drained by his incessant pity party. Some of his Eeyore party for one dramatics are valid – injuring his leg and feeling worthless as a man is pretty much in tune with how a man of his time would think – but most of them are just repetitive bleating about him being unworthy of love due to circumstances of his birth. Even after he’s discovered his brat, he plunges himself in guilt and throws up more bleating about how he doesn’t deserve love. On one hand, I love that he doesn’t jump to annoying “Whore! Whore!” drama like some heroes would after finding out about Kadlin’s brat, but on the other hand, oh shut up, please. The author really overdoes the hero’s whinging here – it never seems to end.
The rest of the story is actually pretty good, although it doesn’t stray too far from the Viking romance formula. Unlike Gunnar, Kadlin isn’t rushing to martyr herself anytime soon, thank goodness, because Gunnar is already enough to drive me up the wall. She is very self aware, and she also doesn’t let Gunnar walk all over her. I like this, and in many ways, Kadlin being who she is is necessary to balance Gunnar’s personality. I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for her, though, as she’s signing up to be Gunnar’s mother and nanny as well as wife. I don’t care how good a man is in bed, if he’s a whinging crybaby like Gunnar, he’s better scram before I take the broom to sweep him out myself. The kid is surprisingly alright, but then again, with Gunnar in this story, even a kid would appear to be the more emotionally stable and mature one. Sure, the plot is pretty typical, but barring those pages when Gunnar is going on and on about his bloodthirsty fatherless et cetera STFU issues, this book has both clean, engaging narrative and solid pacing.
I can like this book so much more, I feel. I really want to, but alas, if only the author had reined Gunnar in a little earlier.