Monday, June 3, 2013

To Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham + Featured Freebie

To Sin with a Viking (Forbidden Vikings, #1)Playing With Fire! 
Caragh Ó Brannon defended herself bravely when the enemy landed—only, now she finds herself alone with one very angry Viking…

Styr Hardrata sailed to Ireland intending to trade, never expecting to find himself held captive in chains by a beautiful Irish maiden.

The fiercely handsome warrior both terrifies and allures Caragh, but he is forbidden territory. He is the enemy…and he is married. Yet Styr harbors a secret that just might set them both free…

Forbidden Vikings

Resist them if you can!

My Rating: 5 Roses

To Sin with a Viking was a brilliant historical romance! Full of rich emotion, intense forbidden romance, and hot Vikings, this book was a fantastic read. Loved it!

I've read only a couple of historical romances about Vikings. They seem to be underrepresented in the genre. So, this book ventured into somewhat unknown territory for me. Add to that the fact that the hero was married and trying to make his marriage work, and we've got a completely new thing going. With all that, I was a bit wary going into this book. But, it turns out there was no need to be worried because this book was perfectly done. It treated the possibility of adultery with respect and put Vikings way up on the hotness list next to Regency rakes and passionate highlanders. Seriously, it was a wonderful read.

Caragh was a likable heroine. She's incredibly selfless, the kind of person who always thinks about others first. Even when it came to her detriment. But, even starving and scared, she was strong enough to take down a Viking when it came to fighting back. And she fought tooth and nail when it came to protecting her loved ones. Her conflicted feelings about Styr were interesting. On one hand, she's in love with him and hurt that he chooses to stay true to his wife despite her feelings for him. On the other, part of the reason she loves him is because of that steadfast honor he shows in his marriage and in everything else. A recipe for disaster and heartbreak, right? Worry not, it all turns out well in the end. But, not before some intense emotional conflict. Back to Caragh, though. I thought she was a great heroine. I truly liked her character and I think other readers will as well.

Styr was just as great a character. He's a very honorable and noble man. He sticks to his morals, no matter the temptation. He went to Ireland to try to make his marriage work. But, his plans went awry and he ended up falling in love with another woman. Still, he was an honorable man throughout it all. I felt really bad for him. His honor is telling him to stay true to his wife while berating him for hurting Caragh with his rejections. Again, intense emotional conflict. And I felt really bad that he was getting berated by Caragh's brother's (and a few other people) for hurting her, but all he was trying to do was stick to his wedding vows. I liked him from page one and grew to adore him not long after. He was very honorable, intensely loyal, determined to do whatever it took to protect his loved ones, and so sweet. In other words, a perfect  hero.

Now, there is a glaring issue that has to be addressed about this book: adultery. This was a huge concern for me going into this book because if it wasn't done right, then people would probably get offended. However, it was treated with respect. As I stated, Styr was a very honorable man. He wouldn't forsake his wedding vows for anything. And it wasn't as if his wife was a bad person. She was a good woman, but they were never in love and their inability to conceive a child drove a wedge between them that just couldn't be fixed. And, Styr never cheated on her. I guess some people might say he emotionally cheated, but it wasn't treated flippantly. Styr went through so much torment just for his feelings for Caragh. And Caragh might have been heartbroken about their situation, but she never crossed the line, either. So, I think that issue was deftly handled. There is divorce in this book as well, and I already read a review about one person who didn't like that. But, this is a romance. There has to be a happy ending for the couple. If the hero is married, the only way that could happen is divorce or widowhood. And Styr's wife has to be alive for her story in the next book, so there was only one option. I had absolutely no issue with it, but if you do have an issue with divorce, think about that before getting into this book.

The romance was very intense. Emotionally, not physically. Because they couldn't physically do anything, their emotions doubled in intensity. Their feelings for each other were palpable. There was still a bit of spice in this book. The attraction between Caragh and Styr was constantly present. And, that did come to fruition later in the book, when adultery was no longer an issue. The romance was very well done and I found Styr and Caragh to be a lovely couple.

I've mentioned this a few times, but it was awesome enough to bear specific mentioning: the emotions. They emotions in this book were so well depicted. I felt every one of the emotions. Kudos to the author doing such a great job on that front.

The plot was fast paced. I was utterly hooked throughout the entire book. And the ending was perfect. 

To Sin with a Viking was a magnificent historical romance. I absolutely adored it. Lovers of the genre, you have to read this book!

*Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Books for a copy!
Featured Freebie:
Today, I have a historical romance that sounds really good: An Introduction to Pleasure by Jess Michaels. Go forth and get it for free!

Lysandra Keates is running out of options. Her father is dead, her mother is ill, and her efforts to find respectable employment have ended in failure. With her small savings bleeding away, she swallows her pride—and her terror—and turns to Vivien Manning, an infamous courtesan, to match her with a wealthy protector.

For years, Viscount Andrew Callis has lived a monastic existence at his country estate, hardening his body against the snobbish, lazy young man he once was, hardening his heart against grief over the deaths of his wife and infant son. When Vivien asks him to spend one month training a young woman in the ways of a mistress, his mind resists…but his body responds with an ache he thought long dead.

As Andrew begins his gentle tutelage, he finds himself falling under the spell of Lysandra’s innocent charms. And as they give in to the powerful hunger, the last thing Andrew ever expected, or wanted, forms between them. An emotional connection that could carry them well past the training period—if only Andrew can open his heart to the possibility of love.

Warning: Includes training in all kinds of sexual positions and delights, as well as an emotional romance. May produce swooning.

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