Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5158-3
Historical Romance, 2004
Sandra Hill isn’t trying to do too much in A Tale of Two Vikings; she just wants to make everybody laugh. There’s no adroit wit here though. In typical Sandra Hill style, this story is crammed with relentless stupidity and unapologetic bawdiness. The punchlines are slapstick in nature and the payoff is a scene of two stupid people grunting and moaning as they make babies. Whether they should be making babies is another story altogether, I guess.
Two silly twin brothers, Toste and Vagn Ivarsson, are really bad Vikings who actually manage to get themselves outlawed by their own father. They go about their merry way, pillaging and plundering all in their way, until their latest skirmish leads them to be wounded and separated, each thinking the other dead.
Toste is rescued by Gorm Sigurdsson. Gorm ties Toste to a bed and demands that Toste, whom he mistakes for Vagn. to marry his daughter Helga. Helga doesn’t want to marry as she wants to be a trader, but she wants a baby and she decides that Toste will be the candidate to help her get that baby. Toste balks, but either way, he’s toast. If there is one thing romance novels should have taught these silly fools, it’s that nothing stands in the way of a psychotic heroine and the baby juice she wants in order to have a baby now.
Meanwhile, Vagn finds himself in St Anne’s Abbey where he learns that the abbey is selling “holy relics” as well as mead on the sly. The resident hot babe Esme is hiding from her greedy father who isn’t above trying to kill her for some land. How lucky for her that Vagn is happy to sow her lands, so to speak. Her predictable “babe under dowdy nun habit” stunt isn’t stopping him. If there is one thing romance novels should have taught these silly heroines, it’s that there is no ugly heroines in the land, just pretty ones wearing ugly clothes. Why even bother?
Wacky antics ensue. Needless to say, readers who don’t like this author’s slapstick humor most probably won’t find this book any more or less enjoyable than her previous books. As for me, I do find some of the scenes here loud-out-loud funny but there can be too much of a good thing and here, I soon wish that there are some depths in the story to provide a nice break from the relentless tomfoolery going on here. The heroines are more obnoxious than the heroes – Helga is particularly irritating.
Still, there’s nothing more obnoxious than the unnecessary reappearance of that skald Bolthar, whose horrid poetry is at the same level as Jar Jar Binks’s delightful enunciation. Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or run for cover when I am reading A Tale of Two Vikings, but there’s no doubt what I want to do where Bolthar is concerned. Must kill. Kill! Kill! Kill!