Her rival is her most dangerous temptation!
Astrid Viggosdottir’s father has ordered a competition between her and new arrival Viking Ulrik to prove who is the better boat builder!
If she loses, Princess Astrid will be duty-bound to marry a jarl.
If Ulrik loses, he will be banished, leaving his motherless daughter homeless.
With the stakes so high, Astrid should hate this man, but during the long hot summer, their rivalry turns to a heated passion that neither can ignore!
|The Viking She Loves to Hate
|Category / Genre(s):
|Harlequin / Mills & Boon
Enemies to Lovers
|Point of View:
|Third Person, Past Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
|Northern Fjirds, 830 AD – Viking
|21st July, 2023
Rich, detailed and romantic
First things first – that cover! Gorgeous. The look on his face, the embrace – love it!
Anyway… I’ve enjoyed many of Lucy Morris’s stories and this time she gives us another Viking story, this one unconnected to any of her previous offerings. So it stands completely alone and, of course, has its (very satisfying) happily ever after.
We’re in the Northern Fjords when Dane, Ulrik, and his daughter arrive at the kingdom of King Viggo and his family, including the vexing Princess Astrid. And believe me, she’s very vexing. To start off, I wondered how I could dislike both characters equally only because the other character disliked them so. When we focussed on Ulrik – I didn’t like Astrid and when we heard from Astrid – Ulrik was the focus of my disdain. When you take a step back to examine that, you realise the absolute skill an author must have to achieve that feat.
Having said that, while Ulrik wiggled his way into my heart fairly quickly, it took me a lot longer to get to know and like Astrid. She was known as a bit of a trickster and the little tricks and schemes she played on Ulrik really did start to annoy me. She was very much the childish, petulant and spoilt child she claimed that she wasn’t. But almost without my knowledge, she started to grow and change – her passion and spirit becoming better focussed. It was so subtle but suddenly I realised I not only liked Astrid but felt for her and was rooting for her to get her happily ever after. It’s nice to see a character – especially a female character – have such a journey.
Ulrik was a lovely blend of harsh, gruff and growly while also being sweet, kind and caring. While Astrid at first confused Ulrik’s nature as being aloof and indifferent, we as readers quickly see his true nature, especially as we see his dealings with his daughter, Frida. Ulrik is often frustrated with Astrid but it was lovely to see him come round to see her true personality and watch him slowly fall in love. He’s a widow, which is never my favourite thing for a hero, but despite his loving his lost wife fiercely, it was never really used as a barrier for his being with Astrid and was dealt with lightly.
There are a couple of sex scenes and they fit in nicely with the tone of the story and the way in which our couple fall in love. What always fascinates me in a Viking story – or one that’s done well at least – is the way in which their society treated sex. Obviously Astrid is a princess so there were different rules for her, but they were much more liberal than our own. Which brings me to another strong point of Ms Morris – her ability to weave the historical details into her story so that you almost don’t realise how seamlessly this world is being built around you and the characters. There’s obviously a lot of research that’s gone into ensuring the Viking world is true to life and as I say, it’s so richly built but done so subtly. Another nod to the excellent writing.
This is another winner for Lucy Morris and a book I thoroughly enjoyed. The little epilogue made me happy and was a nice cherry on the top of an excellent story. At the beginning I admit that Astrid was making me wonder whether this might be a 4 star read but she won me over in the end, just as she did Ulrik. A rich and detailed romance and one that I would recommend to anyone who loves a historical, Viking or Mills and Boon romance. 5 stars.
* I received this book in exchange for my honest review*
Lucy Morris lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two young children, and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves gin, bubbly and Irn-Bru. A member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association, she was delighted to accept a two-book deal with Harlequin after submitting her story to the Warriors Wanted submission blitz for Viking, Medieval, and Highlander romances.
Writing for Harlequin Historical is a dream come true for her and she hopes you enjoy her books!