Calandra Hunter, $2.99, ISBN 978-1301351039
Historical Romance, 2013
“I was wondering since, well, you’re a Viking, and she was taken by Vikings, if, well,” he managed, then stopped when Sigurd snorted.
“You want my help to find her?” he asked, smiling a little. “I can’t. I don’t know what Vikings took her, I wasn’t even here when she was taken. We have no idea where she is now. If she was taken as a slave, she will have been sold to someone else.”
“Oh,” Harold said, feeling crushed.
Yes, this is how I have always wanted my manly Vikings to speak.
Meet Harold. He wants to save his sister from the Vikings, and to do that, he needs to play nice with the Viking in his neighborhood, Sigurd. This requires him to be Siguard’s thrall, of course, not that this is a hard role for him to play because practically the entire story is Sigurd asking him questions and he either nodding like a puppy or launching into exposition that feels way too rehearsed to be something one would say on the fly. Enthralled by the Viking is like the driest telephone book stuck in the middle of the Atacama as a result, and no, I do experience any bliss while scrolling down each page with a frown on my face.
Adding insult to the injury is how Harold is written to be the stereotypical woman in such a story: he gets his butt plugged because why not, he spends much of the story gulping and gasping like an addled goldfish, he constantly whines about feels and feelings, and in the end, he decides that nothing else matters so long as his manly man plugs him on a regular basis and takes care of him so that he doesn’t have to do anything for himself anymore. His sole character arc, aside from learning the joys of the beanpole, is to learn from Sigurd how important it is to bathe on a regular basis. Yes, because for some reason, that is the hill that the author chooses to die on in a story that has all the ingredients for more dramatic developments. How about the sister? The whole “the locals and the Vikings hate one another” drama? The lack of penicillin?
Well, turns out this is another story of a ridiculously wide-eyed “I’m so clearly written to be the bottom and the object of sexy lessons 101” character that learns the joy of sex and bathing. Reading this one makes me reflect on what I must be doing wrong in my life to reach to this point where I am reading and reviewing stories like this one. The story doesn’t seem or feel authentic, there is no sense of urgency or drama despite the premise, characterization is stock and insultingly stereotypical, and the sex feels like it was the first effort by someone that had done a cursory reading of My First Time Writing a Gay Scene. What am I doing? Don’t I have anything better to do? Of course I do, which is why I’m now ending this review to do those things.