Friday, October 9, 2020

Review: Conveniently Wed to the Viking

Conveniently Wed to the Viking Book Cover
One of the more contrarian aspects to my reading personality is that while I'm militant about reading mystery series in order, I'll hopscotch all over the damn place when it comes to romance.  So naturally I started Harlequin's multi-author Sons of Sigurd series with the third book, Conveniently Wed to the Viking by Michelle Styles.  Because of course I did. And I'm not going to lie, it took me a couple chapters to get my sea legs. I read the prologue and the first two chapters, went back and reread the prologue to make sure I had a firm grasp on "the series stuff" and then it was off to the races.

Sandulf is the youngest of five, always seen as the tag-along, always trying to measure up to his four older brothers who cast long shadows.  On his brother Brandt's wedding day it's Sandulf who is charged with looking after his new sister-in-law, who is also very pregnant.  By the end of it all their father is dead, as is Brandt's wife and unborn child - Sandulf failing to protect her.  He's sent away to Constantinople, but swearing an oath to avenge his sister-in-law's murder, he returns to track down the mercenary with a distinctive star-shaped scar on his face. Things get complicated though when his Scottish guide takes off with the partial payment he gave him and his path crosses that of runaway heiress, Lady Ceanna.

Ceanna hired the same guide to take her, conveniently enough, to the same monastery where Sandulf is heading.  Ceanna's aunt (her mother's sister) is the abbess and she's hoping to convince her that she's had a holy vision and is destined to take the veil.  Ceanna doesn't have a burning desire to wed herself to Christ, but she is very interested in staying alive.  Her father hastily remarried a younger woman after Ceanna's mother died tragically.  Her father is now, conveniently, lying on his death bed and step-mommy is looking to wed Ceanna to the head of her father's guards who just so happens to be step-mommy's lover.  Oh what a tangled web!  Now her guide has disappeared from the scene and she's not sure who she can trust.  She had been counting on the guide's loyalty to her father, but that's looking less certain and now she's got this Viking lurking about.  Northmen do not exactly have sterling reputations.  But there's no way for it.  She can't stay, she has to go. And the best way to insure her safety to take along Sandulf who has vowed he will do everything within his power to protect her.

There's a lot to recommend this story and it just so happens to have some of my favorite flavors of romance catnip.  Ceanna is a smart, resourceful heroine paired with my absolute favorite sort of romance hero - the younger hero living in the shadow of older "better" men who he idolizes.  Oh, and it's a marriage of convenience (eventually) coupled with a road romance.  80% of this story takes place while the couple is traveling.  I also appreciated that these two got to know each other (it makes the "falling in love" stuff more believable - in my humble opinion), they talked, they verbally sparred at moments, there was attraction and a couple of stolen kisses but it wasn't lust at first sight, let's scurry off into the woods to get it on within mere moments after locking eyes on each other.

That being said, some "not like other girls" nonsense does creep in - mostly in the form of how practical and thoughtful Ceanna is - not driven to flights of fancy nor hysterics compared to "other women."  This sort of thing is tedious on a good day, and while I've read far worse in other romances, it was still annoying.  Also the author doesn't do a ton of hand-holding on the "Viking stuff"- I mean, I got the gist of it all but this period in history is a weak area for me and certain terms, geographical names etc. threw me on occasion just because I didn't know. Reader mileage will vary on that, of course.

Given this is a multi-author series there's an overarching plot that isn't resolved in this book - namely the murder of Sandulf's father.  But Ceanna's evil stepmother, the assassin with the star-shaped scar are dispatched and Sandulf is reunited with his brothers.  

This was a good, solid read and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I'm pretty darn sure I have all the other books in the series in my TBR and the plan is to get to them in short order.

Final Grade = B


Whiskeyinthejar said...

I used to be militant about reading a series in order but after some storylines didn't grab me enough to want to read, I've relaxed and will jump in at even book #5. It's a gamble and sometimes it hurts my reading pleasure with tbrs like ours, I think you just need to grab the book when it sounds good.
I also appreciated that these two got to know each other (it makes the "falling in love" stuff more believable - in my humble opinion), they talked,

Oh so much this, I crave good dialogue.
I'll have to check this one out, a time period I don't think I've read in a while. Thanks for the review!

Jen Twimom said...

Oh... this one does sound good. I don't know that I've ever read an multi-author series... I'm interested in reading your review of the first two books now that you've enjoyed this one. And now you know that some romance series are better in order! Especially when there is an overarching storyline.

Wendy said...

Whiskey: That's my issue with romance series - I have to be really hooked to read every single book because not all tropes and character combinations appeal. Also it's a hold over from my "hard core reviewing" days. I will die on the hill of books being able to stand-alone. Readers browse, readers pick up random books depending on mood - you can't, nor should you expect for every reader to have access to every book and therefore read in order. It's never been done, nor will it be.

Jen: Hopefully soon. I've got a couple books stacked ahead that are obligation reading and I need to verify I've got all the books in my digital TBR. Pretty sure I do. But my Kindle is such a dumpster fire I can't swear to it LOL