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I've recently discovered that I like historical romance best of all and this book didn't disappoint. It's the author's debut novel and more are planned covering, I presume, all four of the 'Brothers of Thunder'. The head of the new Viking colony aims to make peace with a local neighbour by marrying his daughter. He has doubts about this from the start but can't see what the catch is initially. Eventually, this becomes clear, but it is something that works to the Viking's advantage. Meanwhile Aoife can't understand why he doesn't want to get her pregnant and provide himself with an heir. It really doesn't bode well. This is a surprisingly gentle tale. The Jarl is insightful and caring. At times I found him slightly too insecure when used to ruthless Viking leaders, but this helped cement the bond between the four 'brothers of thunder'. As I know nothing about the area where this was set, I could have done with a map to help clarify what was where, but this is a small point. I'm looking forward to the next books, especially Arne's story, the scarred man.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy in return for an honest review.
This is my first Viking romance, and I was immediately drawn in to the world that Mairibeth MacMillan created. She paints an enthralling picture of Strathclyde in the 9th Century, making me look at the view from my window onto that same river in a very different way. Some things haven’t changed – it still rains a lot, we still don’t have decent summers, crops are hard to grow – and those parallels made me smile. But the battles fought for the lands and control of the various sea lochs, those were very new to me, and brilliantly told – I am so ignorant, I had no idea, for example, that the Norsemen, Picts and Britons were all vying for the lands, and I hadn’t even thought about the language barriers she evokes. But it’s in the cultural differences that she really excels as a storyteller, and how she weaves those into the central romance between Aoife (love that name) and Tormod. They are both outsiders, they both have a deep-rooted sense of family, and they’ve been rejected (for very different reasons). But the concept of blood and family, of community, respect, of what it means to fight (in spirit, I mean) and to protect and defend, all of those fundamentals are very different for each of them. To say nothing of the religious differences. And the way of life – I loved that the Norse were so clean and the Britons smelly! It’s these differences that help Aoife to see herself very differently, that allow her to re-define herself from a broken and tainted spirit to a spirited wife with a true lust for life – and for her husband! It’s the same differences that allow Aoife to help Tormod look at his own mistakes and history differently, to turn it around from something that will haunt him to something he can move on from. Romantic conflict in this sense is timeless! There’s no compromise in this book. I love that the author uses smells, as so few do, to paint her ambiance – the smell of blood, for example, is used very cleverly so that you get a true sense of a violent battle without her having to draw the gore for you. This is a violent world, where you have to fight to survive – quite literally. And it’s one where so many don’t survive. As (I think) Tormod’s aunt tells Aoife, a man can never have too many sons – babies dies, children die, young men are killed in battle. And women die too, in childbirth. But don’t get me wrong. You get a real sense in this story of the natural world turning, of the seasons coming round, of fresh chances. It’s about survival (yes, of the fittest but the fittest defend the weaklings) and it’s about rebirth. It is also a romance! Aoife and Tormod are great together. My one issue with the story is really on the romantic conflict. I couldn’t help wishing that they would just sit down and talk to each other. Aoife in particular has nothing to lose and everything to gain by being frank. And I did feel that by the time Tormod eventually worked himself up to confessing his backstory, it had lost it’s impact. But that’s my only quibble. Two more Norsemen are waiting in the wings to have their stories told. Can’t wait!
The Viking’s Cursed Bride is the first in a series set in the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde — now west-central Scotland — and I can’t wait to read the next.
High-born Aoife has fallen foul of her jealous and controlling stepmother, who dominates her father. When the opportunity arises she’s married off to Tormod, a Viking leader, as part of a peace treaty. Aoife knows her position is perilous and that her father has no concern for her welfare, and matters are made worse by what she’s always been told is her curse — her ability to see the future, or present events unfolding elsewhere. And Tormod, though he’s attracted to her, has many reasons not to allow his feelings to affect his judgement when it comes to his wife.
It’s a skilfully-told story and the characters are believable and appealing. Maribeth MacMillan exposes us to their weakness as well as their strengths and by the end I was rooting not just for Tormod and Aoife but for many of the minor characters, too.
I very much enjoyed the historical setting. MacMillan uses the original names for real places and if you want to you can look them up and find out about the real historical events on which the story is based, but you don’t need to do that to enjoy the book. I had a real sense of the inhospitable lands in which the Vikings settled, and of the turbulent times in which they and the native Britons and Picts struggled to live side by side.
There’s action aplenty without too much blood and gore, and a sense of real danger underpins the fast-moving story. I enjoy historical fiction but haven’t read much in this era, but this is a fine introduction and I will certainly be reading more. I loved it.
I have read good, bad and mediocre Viking Romance, and am happy to say this tale more than met my expectations for a well researched story that actually concentrated on a brilliant plot, rather than relying heavily on sexual content. A beautiful tale, set in my home ground of the West Coast of Scotland. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.
I absolutely love this debut novel from Mairibeth McMillan. It is set in an area I know so well and indeed does it justice as a land steeped in history and romance. The characters both Norse and Briton are very human and I can relate to each and every one of them on a personal level. I am so looking forward to future adventures of Aoife and the Brothers of Thunder!
I couldn't put this book down, reading at every spare minute. The narrative flows with ease, the characters are real and captivating the writer's plot structure is masterful. I want to know what happens to Aoife and the Brothers of Thunder. A brilliant debut.
I love a story about two people who have troubles in their lives but try hard to rise above it and become better people. Tormod made some mistakes as Jarl. Aoife is considered cursed by her people. Tormod tries to do what is right but is tormented by his past. Aoife can't trust because of her curse. There are friends and enemies. Friends sometimes have a hard time trusting. Some of the enemies are family. But Tormod and Aoife learn to trust one another. Good read.
Couldn't put this one down. I read it in one day and truly loved this couple. The story progresses at a good pace and all of the characters are interesting. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.
9th century Britons, Picts, and Norsemen (vikings). Deception, betrayal, battles and romance. Read it in one sitting. Came looking for book 2 immediately. Disappointed, since this came out on October 23, 2019. It's now July 2020, still no book 2. Will be impatient until it's available. New author to follow.