Well here we are, ladies and gents, the first up to the chopping block.
Dun-na-na-na... One top-heavy dude with a sword, and an allierative title. Yay. It’s amazing how many covers of romance novels have a top-heavy man who seems to have trouble finding buttons for his shirts and a teeny woamn. Not that I have anything against tall, well-built guys, but really?
It is the year 999, which the book claims that were “the days of old where men were…whatever…”
No, really. The book doesn’t care enough to make something up. That's the start we're getting off to, people.
Don't worry, though... We’re introduced to Magnus Ericsson, a man who is about as far from being “whatever” as you can imagine! He has four favorite things, including farming and farming-related euphemisms.
Unfortunately, plowing all those fields leads to ten little vikings all in a row, from nearly as many mothers, calling him Faðir day in and day out. Thank the gods that a few of them died, otherwise he’d have more! As an example; His newest daughter has been sent to him via merchant ship, and he tries to send her back. More to the point, he spends approximately FIVE PAGES attempting to do so.
So. What do we know so far? Magnus has three flaws. He can't keep it in his pants, he can get a chick pregnant at twenty paces... Oh, and he has big ears that he hides under his hair. What a travesty, that last one.
So we skip forward to 2003 to meet the lovely Angela Abruzzi, the female half of our protagonist duo. She's got a BMW, has a family vineyard called The Blue Dragon, and has both coal-black hair and coal-black eyes. Wow. I haven't seen that kind of description since my bad fanfic days... I mean my days of reading bad fanfic, of course.
Grandma Rose, though? I love Grandma Rose. She’s a snarky old woman with the faded overalls and tank top and mud-caked sneakers. She tops off that ensemble with an eighteen-carat-gold cigarette holder. I like her already. Well, other than the fact that she apparently has prayers powerful enough to pull our Viking forward in time over a thousand years. I'm calling it now. Grandma Rose is actually an elderly Haruhi Suzumiya.
All in all, the book is apparently supposed to be amusing on some level, but it reads like someone was intentionally trying to write the most cliched, telegraphed plot ever. There are a few amusing things to note, but one disturbing bit is the fact that early on, this happens:
"After a surprised squeal of dismay at his quick maneuver, she squirmed and shoved and tried to escape his embrace. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Thanking you. I told you that I wanted to thank you for bringing me here, and this is what I am doing.”"
Hold the fucking phone. No means no, buddy, and I don't care how "virile" you are. And Angela, what are you doing? Fight harder. You've already been stuck in one abusive marriage. Just because he's complimenting you don't mean you should... Oh never mind. Apparently, all you need to do to change a girl’s mind is to grab her and kiss her.
Also, all the attempts at odd pronuciations of English and/or unfamiliar words? It was old when Ax did it. So chill out on that. You're ruining my immersion, man.
Of course, the vineyard gets saved, they get married, and Angela is well.... plowed. And with "crop", by the end of the book. Apparently tis was the third in the trilogy. Oops. I did manage to grab another book from this series, but with the rapey male lead, a totally flat female lead, and a grating straw feminist rounding out the cast, I'm not sure this bodes well for the other books. The only characters I really liked were the kids and Grandma Rose. And even she was all about the kids and Angela getting married. I'm not a ~raging~ feminist, but suffice it to say, I'm personally in my mid-twenties with no plans to marry any time soon. So respect that, families.
On to the fun part. Notable quotes!
"He loved the smell of fresh-turned dirt after spring-time plowing. He loved the feel of a soft woman under him in the bed furs… when engaged in another type of plowing. He loved the heft of a good sword in his fighting arm. He loved the low ride of a laden longship after a-viking in far distant lands." viking is a verb now?
"“I am not naked,” he said. “I have wrapped one of your towels around me, and I am wearing a pair of those jaw-key shorts under that. Wouldst like to see?” He stood and was about to remove the towel.
“No!” she shouted. Holey moley! Could her heart really stand such an intimate view of six-feet, five inches of drop-dead-gorgeous bare skin and muscle?"
"“You could say I am randy as a springtime bull whose blood has been heating all winter long. And believe you me, it has been a long winter for me.” "
"...and Angela was faced with an astounding fact. Magnus resembled a tree in height; she’d known that from the first. Now she knew that he had some very impressive branches…one in particular."
"Ah, who is this Hagar the Horrible? Methinks I would like to meet this dumb Norseman. He appears a fine, though misguided fellow."
"“What is it that you want, Magnus?” Angela asked, putting her hand on his.
He took her hand in his, twining their fingers, stared into her eyes steadily, and told her what his heart’s wish was.
"“I would not mind marrying you, but no more children,” he said as gently as he could.
“You would not mind…” she sputtered, then spun on her heel and rushed into her bathing chamber, where she locked the door after herself, but not before telling him to do something to himself that he was fairly certain was anatomically impossible… although Balki the Braggart had once claimed to do such. But then, Balki was the same person who claimed he could tie his man part in a knot and still engage in sexplay."
All in all, it might not be the worst out there, but wowzers. I'm almost afraid of what else I might find.
P.S. I want a sword called Head Lopper. To the Flea Market, away!