REVIEW: Elsker by ST Bende

Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs. But when she transfers from her one-stoplight Oregon town to Cardiff University in Wales, she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. Ull is an honest-to-goodness Norse god — an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. When someone starts asking the wrong questions, Kristia realizes the crazy visions she’s had all her life might be the key to saving their realms… even if they end up costing her her life. Her orderly world just got very messy.

Warnings: None

Category: M/F

Rounding out the holiday season and keeping to the Norse mythology theme for just a tad longer, I read a sappy fantasy romance that takes place around the holidays, involving the Norse god of Winter. First in a series, Elsker will whisk you away to faraway realms just in time for the New Year.

The plot here is exceptionally cheesy, and it does get pretty predictable. It’s fun though, full of typical fantasy wish fulfillment tropes for supernatural romances; being wooed by an immortal diety, some kind of plot to save the world, and leaving behind the mundanity of this mortal coil. Characters are in college so it feels a bit more mature than the highschool versions of these same tropes, but it’s all in all and pretty average escapism romp. That can absolutely be a good thing when this kind of escapism is precisely what you want to read, and its pretty well done and has a cast of very likable characters which is always a plus. It is definitely a vanilla fantasy/supernatural romance through and through.

All of the characters were quite enjoyable. Kristia was charming and relatable, and her struggle to find herself and her place in the adult world rang quite true. I really found myself happy to get to know her as well as her friends and roommates, all of whom were engaging and with their own unique personalities. Ull Myhr was also, of course, as the dashing heartthrob very effective and I enjoyed his stoic and sort of shy personality. The will they wont they portion of the story was pretty well fleshed out, and I found the author’s ability to write good chemistry very satisfying.

This is based in Norse mythology, but it features some lesser known figures and stories. I am uncertain exactly how much of this was the author’s own invention vs how much was pulled from actual folklore- from a cursory google search I find not a lot about Ullmyhr, but the figure Ullr pops up as the god of snow. But whether the author did extensive research into the mythology of these figures or just made most of this up for the book, it blends together relatively well into the modern setting to feel fairly seamless. There is also a lot of explorations of magic and how it works in this world, and in the poltical structures of Asgard and Ullmyhr’s family.

I was a bit disappointed that there was little in the way of sexual content in this book. There’s some lovely dovey scenes, but it’s ultimately a slow burn that never really reaches the level of smut I’d like for a book like this. What sexual content there is is pretty tame and mild. Of course, this is quite a vanilla romance all in all, so I wasn’t expecting anything too crazy but it definitely could have done more to give us something… more. Chemistry and relational drama will have to stand in place of sex here, and the chemistry is quite good all together but I do really wish this had been just a smidge more down and dirty.

This is, all in all, a book that will entertain you quite well if these are the tropes you like. If you’re into vanilla supernatural romances this will scratch the itch and you may well find yourself sucked into its narrative enough to pick up the next book. It was just a little too fluffy and tame for my tastes, but it was a fun read.

Have you read Elsker? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!


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