REVIEW: Her Viking Slave by Alana Church

Harald the Beardless was desperate. With his farm failing, he needed coin to feed his mother and sisters. But he was captured on his first raid as a Viking, made the slave of the lovely but cold-hearted Fiona. But even Fiona can’t deny her attraction to the handsome young Viking. Desire rises faster than the heat from Fiona’s forge. Will she risk all to win the heart of “Her Viking Slave?”

Warnings: Sexual assault, Mentions of past sexual assault/rape, Mentions of underage sex

Category: M/F

Her Viking Slave is a sweet romance novella featuring a captured Viking and a tough as nails woman blacksmith. Although it sounds like it might be a role-reversal sort of femdom story, it is much more of a typical romance, complete with tragic backstories and drama. If you’re looking for a quick and fun read, this might just be up your alley, and the author certainly delivers on steamy smut and charming characters.

WRITING
Written pretty well, this tells the story of Harald, a poor farmer that finds himself sailing with the Viking warriors in order to hopefully gain enough money to provide for his family. In the process, he gets himself captured by the fearsome Fiona, and thus begins their journey to overcoming their prejudices and forming a loving bond. The story is largely concerned with the development of their relationship, and on that front it moves quite quickly, a little unrealistically quickly but for the length of the book I didn’t mind the fast pace. The book certainly covers a lot of potentially upsetting subject matter, including the sexual assault in Fiona’s backstory, but overall it’s an engaging tale and very fun to read if you like an enemies to lovers kind of romance.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
Neither of the leads really ended up popping off the page for me as well fleshed out characters, and it’s not for lack of trying on the part of the author. They both have tragic backstories and are struggling to connect while leaving behind the past, but the narrative never really lingers on them as individuals long enough to get to know them well. The development of their relationship is sweet though rushed, and I did really enjoy the cheesyness of the melodrama the story is dripping with. Trouble is, once the two are actually together it was harder to stay engaged in the plot, as the emotional impact seemed to wrap up midway through the story.

WORLDBUILDING
Unfortunately this book doesn’t feel especially well researched about its setting or the cultures it is working with. The boorish Vikings, the patriarchal societies that revolve around gendered binaries and sexism all feel included more because they feel inherent to the genre rather than organically fitting the setting. Of course the exploration of those subjects in fiction can certainly be cathartic, but its difficult to take seriously when it gets so many details about Vikings wrong, and the lead woman is a stereotypical “Strong Female Character” in a setting that seems designed to be antagonistic to that. It’s a little forced, is all, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad- just that it’s more of a set piece than a fully fleshed out environment.

STEAMINESS
I found the author’s writing of smut very engaging and well written, which is very much a plus in a book like this. Its very vanilla, which if thats your speed and you like enemies to lovers and first time encounters and sexual tension, this is a book that you should well enjoy. All other cons aside in this book, the pros are quite strong and I can see this author being a go-to for steamy romantic smut. That said, it isn’t my thing because I would have loved a harder, rougher dynamic between the leads. Its well written, just a wee bit too vanilla for me to really connect with. Nice prose though, and the author really keeps us in the moment with the characters.

This is a short and sweet novella that brings a heavy helping of melodrama and steamy smut content to a historical fiction setting. You’ll probably enjoy spending an afternoon with it if you like enemies to lovers and vanilla sex scenes.

Have you read Her Viking Slave? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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