February 15, 2010

Back Cover:
“No one touches my woman. She bears my mark. I claim her.”
Dangerous warrior Ivar Gunnarson is a man of deeds, not words. With little time for the ideals of love, Ivar seizes what he wants – and Princess Thyre will not become the exception to his rule!
Mysterious and enchanting, Thyre rouses Ivar’s desire the moment he lays eyes on her. With Viking factions engaged in a bloody feud, Thyre is yet another captive this hardened warrior conquers – but to be king of Thyre’s heart will entail a battle he has never engaged in before…

Thyre is her stepfather's advisor and the driving force behind her his estate, but secretly she dreams of a man to love who loves her back for herself, not her worth. The fragile peace between the Ranriken and the Viken creates a situation they try to keep far away from, but because her stepfather, Ragnfast the Steadfast, owns a bay that is coveted by both parties, it's difficult. Especially when a Viken ship, led by the Viken jaarl Ivar Gunnarson, comes to shore for repairs after a sea battle with a Ranriken jaarl.
Ivar is immediately fascinated by Thyre and sets out with the intention of spending just one night with her. A ruse to deceive Ragnfast and Ivar, in which Thyre takes her half-sister’s place, turns into a night of passion after which Ivar soon discovers what Thyre did and plans retribution. He claims her as his concubine and takes her with him to punish her for the deception. Disclosure on her parentage, however, leads to a somewhat forced marriage but before they can work out their complicated relationship, an outside threat appears and saving Thyre's loved one becomes their first priority.

Thyre is dutiful, responsible and loyal. She is also resourceful, quick-witted and an instinctive take-charge kind of woman. Secretly she longs for adventure and to break free from the confines of her life. Though she's intelligent and resourceful her actions sometimes get Thyre in more trouble than she bargains for but luckily for her, things in the end all work out in her favor. I found it remarkable how at first, Thyre doesn't see that everything she dreams of in a man, is right in front of her in the form of Ivar. Ivar surprises Thyre by showing her he is not all warrior with muscles and prowess but he has brains and can be sensitive too. And he is such a sweet talker too.

Quote Ivar and Thyre:
"You are all night-time promise and daytime fierceness.”
“Something to be admired?”
“To me it makes you interesting, a puzzle. I am finding that I quite enjoy puzzles."

Thyre may seem content but deep down she's not. Ivar puts this nicely into words.

Quote Ivar:
You're not living, you are only existing.

Ivar sees through the smoke screen Thyre puts up to protect her inner feelings and dreams. Ivar has several contradicting sides to him. A tender, caring, sensitive side opposed his rude, impatient, harsh side. He is confident but at the same time also very suspicious of people. He doesn't trust easily.

Both Thyre and Ivar are proud, headstrong, and full of loyalty and a sense of duty. Thyre goes from doting daughter who's running things behind the scenes, to a passionate yet a little deceitful concubine, to reluctant wife. Ivar develops from the warrior out for the spoils with no need for a significant other to a man who cares deeply enough to protect Thyre at all costs. Every stage is written excellently and believably. I admired not only Thyre's stubbornness and perseverance, but also Ivar's ability to keep a cool head because Thyre really tried his patience on a couple of occasions.

The cast of secondary characters was extensive but necessary. Although some were more remarkable than others, all of them contributed to the plot in one way or another. The more memorable for me were Dagmar, Thyre's sister, who is a bit of a drama queen, especially in the beginning, but she did grow on me further along in the book. Then there was Sigmund Sigmundson who is Ivar's nemesis and one of the villains in the story. I truly loathed him for being a treacherous coward. He was not the only villain though but to reveal the other would be too much of a spoiler so I'll let readers discover that story line themselves. Asa, Queen of the Viken was hard for me to pinpoint. I thought her vicious, resentful and conniving but she also did some things that made her a little bit redeemable. Reading the interactions of Ivar and Thyre with some of Thyre's friends (Haakon, Annis, Vikar and Sela) made me curious for the books of those couples as I suspect they are the main couples featured in Michelle Styles' other books in the Viken series. I would love to read more about how their love stories came to be. Finally there were Ivar's nephew and sister, Asger and Astrid, who were very likeable and enjoyable.

There was one small thing that bothered me in this story. Thyre's mother died 8 years before the start of this story, when Thyre was 8 years old. This puts Thyre at 16 during the events in this book and even though I know customs and circumstances were very different in medieval times I did have some trouble believing a 16 year old would have the maturity Thyre has and the ability to go through the things she goes through in this book.

It took me a while to get into the book because of this discrepancy (Thyre's age/demeanor) and because of the Viking terms that were unknown to me in the beginning. I do think reading the previous books in this series would have been helpful and preferable over starting with this installment without some background. Still this did not impede the overall feeling of a great read I had when I turned the last page of the book. I didn't read the other books in this series but now, after reading THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS, I really want to so I can read the back stories of some secondary characters that I liked. So I will most surely be looking for the connected books.

The last time I read a historical romance in a Viking setting must have been ages ago and was in Dutch translation because I've only been reading English for a few years. With reading THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS my appetite definitely has been whetted for more. It was a story of seduction, duty, family-intrigue, secrets, politics, trust and passion, with a great plot that was revealed gradually, with strong characters that held my attention firmly, with the right amount of battle and action and with a courtship brimmed with adversity that made the HEA that more welcome and appreciated.
Though this book was a category romance of less than 300 pages, it totally didn’t have that feel, it was well rounded, well crafted and complete. Hence, praise to Michelle Styles for the delivery of another entertaining, solid Viking story and giving this historical romance lover an escape in the form of a few pleasurable reading hours.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10
(ROOB-rating: 4 stars)


Smokinhotbooks said...

I have a secret crush on all Viking romance books. I can't help it, Vikings are like the ultimate Alpha males.

VampFanGirl said...

Oooo this sounds good but the heroine being 16 does sound a bit off-putting. Like you said though, it was probably just the way of the times.

Thanks for the review and recommendation!

:) VFG

inthehammockblog said...

This looks really good!! Great review, I've been curious about this one :)

patz said...

I admire the fact that the heroine is only 16 yet is mature,responsible and ambitious because I was like that at 16 and I think it is inspirational.

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