Monday, July 8, 2013

Norse Jewel Book Tour: Review + Guest Post + Excerpt + Giveaway!

Welcome to my post for the Norse Jewel book tour! I have a review of this wonderful book coming up, as well as a guest post from the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway for $25 gift card to Starbucks and Barnes and Noble. But, before we get to all that, allow me to introduce the book:

A stolen woman of rare qualities…
AD 1022…

Helena longs for freedom. The Frankish maid wasn't born a slave but marauding Danes have taken her. She’s desperate to escape their camp. Her savior comes as a fierce Norse chieftain, Hakan, who takes her to the far, icy north.

A powerful warrior who’s lived by the sword…
Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Betrayal has left him cold to other women, yet his heart thaws to clever Helena. Her tender ways lure him, weaving kindness into his hard life. But, happiness is short lived. Old loyalties and deceit vex the warrior, calling upon his sword arm.

A clash of cultures amidst a kingdom in transition…
War erupts…a kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and keep the woman he loves.

My Rating: 5 Roses

Since Viking romances are rare in the world of romance, I get really excited when I find one. I LOVE Viking romances, and when I found this book, I have to admit that I fangirled a little. So, I was expecting a lot from Norse Jewel. And it definitely lived up to my expectations! This book was fantastic, sweetly romantic, and a brilliant read.

Helena was a lovely heroine. She's a proud woman and refuses to accept her new life as a slave. On one hand, I admired her bravery in never backing down. On the other, my inner history nerd was complaining that her reaction was unrealistic. At that time, her outright defiance would probably have gotten her beaten or killed and, if she were smart, she would have at least pretended to be meek until she could escape. And, seriously, complaining about her accommodations on the boat? My dear, you're a slave, not a guest at a 5 star hotel. However, that was only a small pet peeve issue and would only bother other history nerds. Other than that, I really liked Helena. She was a strong woman who wouldn't back down when she put her mind to something. Overall, a likable character.

Hakan was SO sweet! He was a warrior with a kind heart who just wanted peace in his life. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to be so easy for him. He was perfect. He was a genuinely good man who was sweet, protective, and loyal to his loved ones. And I thought it was adorable how good of a father he was to Erik. I adored him.

The romance was very sweet. Despite all the obstacles, Helena and Hakan fell for each other and it was sweet to watch. It was obvious how devoted they were to each other. There was only a hint of spice in this book, near the end. These two were more a "love from a distance" couple, until they finally gave into their feelings. I thought they were so cute together.

The plot was fast paced. There were secrets, surprises, and a huge betrayal. All that kept me completely hooked. And the ending was lovely. Tying up the romance while leaving the rest of the story for history.

Norse Jewel was a wonderful Viking romance. I LOVED it! If you're looking for a great romance to read, this is your book.

*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review
Guest Post:

A lover of history, books and romance makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Gina’s passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations. Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll. When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.

If you’re meandering the cyber world, Gina welcomes your visits at, on twitter @ginaconkle, or Facebook

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author
10. Platform. Platform. Platform. Don’t have one? If not, you need one. Platform means your message, your social media presence: think website, blog and/or newsletter, twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. This can also include tumblr and instagram. Don’t wait to be published to start mixing with people. Choose one or two to do well and start.

9. 5000. That’s the number of twitter followers a social media expert suggested a writer ought to have before publishing a book.

8. Swag. Never underestimate the importance of swag: fridge magnets, bookmarks, pens, key chains, trading cards, etc. You know…inexpensive conference giveaway items. People really like that stuff.

7. No Turtles Allowed. The days of ‘just write a good book’ are gone. Earlier this year, my Georgian era series was out for submission. Being a newbie, some of the editors wanted a phone chat. One editor asked me questions about my willingness to do book promotion before we even discussed the manuscript. Introverts…gird your loins!

6. Power of One. Being an introvert, all of the above pushed me out of my comfort zone. Then, I realized what we do as writers is connect…one person, one book at a time.

5. Craft a Message. Who and what are you about? Your stories, that is. Why do you write? What deeper messages resonate in your words? Understand those themes and you understand yourself. That’s your platform foundation…your communication, connecting one person at a time.

4. A Good Agent can Make all the Difference. Signing with my agent (Sarah E. Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency) was the best business move. An agent’s not for everyone, but I’m grateful for the partnership as I wade through publishing’s waters.

3. The Heat. Maybe global warming’s going to our heads, but readers expect really “hot” scenes in their romance.

2. Edits/Revisions. I had a multi-published author tell me that I’ll reach a point where craft workshops won’t be enough. She said my best growth as a writer will come from working with an editor. She’s right. I like edits and revisions.

1. Your Gut and Fun. A writer’s life can be an emotional roller coaster. When I have a visceral reaction to feedback, I know I’d better listen. That’s my gut saying I’ve been handed the truth. Be ready to learn. Develop a clear head and thick skin, and the writer’s path will be fun and fulfilling.

“Why the tether? What harm can one woman do?”

His eyes widened at her show of courage, or so she guessed from the way he tipped his head in acknowledgment.

“Aye, one woman.” His mouth made a grim line and bitterness threaded his voice. “I have seen the destruction one woman can do.” He knotted the leather. “The bindings stay.”

Helena licked her lips, choosing silence. The chieftain’s nostrils flared like some predatory beast scenting prey. Was this anger barely restrained? Or something else.

He touched the wet rope of hair that hung over her shoulder, letting his fingers slip between tangled strands. His thumb and forefinger found a single lock and stroked the hair down to the curling tip. Goose bumps skittered across her flesh from the intimate touch.

“What is your name, thrall?” He asked in the gentlest voice.

“Helena,” she whispered.

“Helena.” He repeated her name softly. The corner of his mouth twitched. He seemed pleased to know her name, but the pleasure was fleeting, replaced by fierceness. “I care not about trust, but I require obedience.”

Helena swallowed the hard lump in her throat.

“Serve me, as well as Agnar—” His teeth gleamed wolf-like in the darkness. “—and you’ll be rewarded.” Rising, he towered over her. “Fail in your purpose, and you will suffer the consequences.”
Up for grabs are a $25 gift cards to Starbucks and Barnes and Noble. 
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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