REVIEW: To Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham
If you’ve often wondered what it would be like to have a Viking chained as a prisoner in your home, Caragh and Styr’s story explores that fantasy as part of their reality. Alpha Viking Styr Hardrata has met his match in strong-willed Irish lass Caragh Ó Brannon. An unusual plot increases the anticipation for book two.
To Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham
Series: Forbidden Vikings, Book 1
Category: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Historical (releases July 23, 2013)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Book and Review courtesy of Romance Junkies.
Struggling to survive during a terrible famine, Caragh Ó Brannon and her youngest brother, Brendan, are starving along with the rest of their tribe in Ireland. Her two oldest brothers should be home soon, having traveled to trade for supplies to sustain them. Their parents died last year while trying to provide for their family, so hope is wearing thin. Under these circumstances, it’s overwhelming when they must fight for their meager existence against Vikings about to invade their shores.
Styr Hardrata and his wife, Elena, have tried for years to have children, without results. They have become more and more distant as a couple when the pressure of a childless marriage becomes too much for Elena to bear. Their arranged marriage wasn’t her choice but her father’s wish. So add in the strain of not having a child as a benefit of their arrangement and Elena is pushed deeper within herself, not wanting to bother with Styr’s advances. When Styr suggests that they travel to a new land to make a fresh start, Elena surprisingly agrees to go with him and his men to start over.
When Styr and his men arrive in Ireland, they’re hoping for a quiet life, trading amongst the Irish. Caragh’s brother and his friends capture Styr’s wife with the full intent of using her to bargain for much needed supplies from the Vikings’ ship. The Vikings give chase and in the end, Caragh’s brother disappears with Elena, then Caragh captures Styr when she catches him off guard.
When the battle and confusion is over, Caragh has a Viking chained up in her home and Brendan and his friends have disappeared with the man’s wife, along with Styr’s men. Even though he is captured and imprisoned by Caragh, Styr is moved by her kindness in tending his wounds, as well as sharing her paltry amount of food with him. He realizes that he can’t leave her alone to starve when he finally escapes to find his wife, so Styr plans to take Caragh with him whether she wants to go or not…
Filled with adventure, TO SIN WITH A VIKING looks at the possibility of finding love elsewhere when two people are in a loveless marriage and are separated by the cruelties of aggression. In this first book of the FORBIDDEN VIKINGS duo, Styr struggles with his attraction to Caragh, who is everything his wife is not. He cares deeply for his wife’s well-being and is committed to her welfare, but does he love her? Caragh is the temptress without realizing what she’s doing to this very alpha male.
There’s a fine line when introducing an attraction to another woman in a married man’s life in traditional romance. It’s not easily done without showing someone as the injured party and for the most part, I felt satisfied with how this was handled. I’m still not sure that I like that part, yet, and I don’t think I can be sure until I read Elena’s story. Personally, I think I would enjoy this book more if I knew I could jump right into Elena’s story right away. I just have too many unanswered questions and I think that the two books should have been published closer together. That said, the fact still remains that neither spouse knew if they would ever see each other again, so who knows what any of us would do in that situation.
Although I prefer reading historical romances with more detail, this book contains enough flavor to envision the historical setting. Caragh is a strong heroine and a good offset to Styr’s extra alpha maleness, which seems a bit over the top for a modern male, but perfect for a Viking who knows what he wants and isn’t shy about going after it. When the characters travel and end up in a marketplace, the setting comes alive and drives the plot, adding some tension and realism that I did not expect. I especially enjoyed that part of the story.
All in all, a very unusual plot that’s both emotional and clever makes TO SIN WITH A VIKING a thought-provoking way to spend an afternoon. I’m really curious about Elena’s story, TO TEMPT A VIKING, which will be available in February 2014. In the end, isn’t that what we all want? Stories that make us think and wonder and wish for more?
What’s on your Mountain? Do you have a favorite time period in history for reading or will any historical tempt you?