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Passionate reader of various genres except horror. I was that kid with the flashlight under the covers, reading when I should have been sleeping. I love to read, talk about what I've read and just hang out with other readers.
To Tempt a Viking Michelle Willingham Historical Romance/Ireland/875 AD Forbidden Vikings/Book 2 Harlequin/January 21, 2014
She’s Testing His Resolve! Warrior Viking Ragnar Olafsson stood by as his best friend claimed the woman he desired the most. There was only one way to quench the deep darkness within him—become merciless in battle. When Elena is taken captive, fearless Ragnar risks everything to save her. Now they are stranded with only each other for company. Suddenly every longing, every look, every touch is forbidden. Elena could tempt a saint—and sinner Ragnar knows he won’t be able to hold out for long!
To Tempt a Viking is certainly a romance but it contains a plot device that some readers may have an issue with. The heroine is married when the story begins. Not only is she married but she's married to the hero's best friend. The husband is not abusive or a complete ass, he's just not in love with his wife. Most of the time this didn't bother me since the husband isn't around for most of the story. This made it easy to forget about him and concentrate on the developing romance between Ragnar and Elena. The only problem I had was when reminded of Elena's marital status. Then I felt uncomfortable and wished her husband had been dealt with prior to the beginning of the story.
Elena Karlsdotter has spent the five years of her marriage trying to please her husband. She keeps their home clean, tries to anticipate his needs and most of all longs to have his child. They have grown distance when they journey to Ireland to establish a settlement. They are met with resistance from the Irish and separated during the fighting. Elena is saved by Ragnar, her husband's best friend. This is when we see Elena and Ragnar's long standing friendship. Then, and what I truly enjoyed, the friendship desperately wants to become more on both their parts but their loyalty to Styr, Elena's husband, keeps them from acting on the attraction.
Vikings can be such misunderstood heroes. Underneath the brooding face and brutally muscled exterior may lie a heart and soul any woman could love. Ragnar Olafsson is one of those Vikings. For Ragnar, battle is his outlet. He is able to release his frustrations, the main one is his desire for his best friends wife. Ragnar didn't have the best childhood. You could say he came from the wrong side of the tracks, if there had been tracks in 875 AD. He didn't feel his was good enough for Elena, her family being part of the haves and Ragnar being part of the have nots. But when she is dependent on him for her safety, his skill at fighting becomes a huge asset. I liked how both Ragnar and Elena's strengths are shown in their struggle to survive. Clearly, Ragnar is the physically stronger of the two but Elena has her own strengths to lend in their survival.
The romance is sweet, frustrating and emotional. Sweet in how Elena took care of Ragnar the boy when they were children and continues to try to take care of Ragnar the man. Frustrating in how Ragnar continues to think he isn't good enough for Elena. How she deserves better, forgetting himself and what he deserves. And emotional in how both Elena and Ragnar's emotions are not only revealed towards each other but towards Styr, family and what being a family means.
I think if you don't mind the heroine being married and you like Viking stories, then you'll enjoy Elena and Ragnar's romance.