by Fabio, historical/time-travel (1994)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-77048-2
There are two ways to write a great historical romance, I always believe. One can do heaps of research and create another Ivanhoe. Or one can be deliberately in-your-face anachronistic, mixing in modern elements in a way that is so blatant and up yours that reader can't help but to be charmed. Something like Sam Raimi's movie Army Of Darkness. Viking takes the first route, big mistake.
That's because this book lacks not only an authentic historical background, it turns the Vikings (including the heroine) into laughable, dirty, and not-too-bright cartoon characters. And for this sort of story to work, it needs to add in lots of humor, some loud rock music by Queen, and a chainsaw-wielding hero. Since Viking isn't even ho-ho-ha funny, well... let me just be kind (I'm still under the weather and working up my blood pressure can be an unwise move) and say that this book stinks.
Lonely, romantic, hunky, kind, sensitive, golden, successful, intelligent... (feel free to add your own glowing terms - Fabio wants to make sure you know he, er, Marc is one fabulous romantic hero) Marcello is an actor who specializes in playing dumb jock, sorry Fabio, I mean sensitive barbarian roles in movies. In case I forget, the book reminds me ad nauseum that after playing the role of a "sensitive sheikh", Marc is hailed as the "New Valentino". Sorry - wrong audience here. I think Valentino's a sap. Give me Mephistopheles anytime, anyday.
Sorry, back to the plot - Marc loves Monica, an actress who wants a career and wants only one piece of Marc - that piece, and definitely not his heart. Poor Marc. After a boink in a bathtub and Monica dropping the bombshell (Honey, you keep that ring - I don't wanna!), Marc is heartbroken. Thankfully, he is sent back to the past in an accidental misfire (literally) and is mistaken as the dead Viking jarl came back to life.
Our O Great Wise Viking King meets this bloodthirsty wench out for his head, Reyna, who looks just like Monica. Cue sappy muzak here as Reyna tries to kill Marc again and again and Marc sees this as a sign of love. Our wise Marc also teaches the dumb Vikings who don't have a clue the Wisdom Of Valentino. He teaches them how to make chimneys, preaches the peace tracts of Gandhi (okay, not Gandhi), and whips the smelly, drunken lot into Valentino clones by the end of the day. All hail Lord Marc, Messiah Of The Vikings!
I'm thankful Marc isn't sent back even further into the past and gets mistaken as a religious prophet. Now that's scary.
This book is so nauseating in its glamorizing of our Golden Romantic Hunk to the point of exclusion of every other characters that I strongly suspect this book is nothing more than a stoking of somebody's ego (ahem). Every character's a cardboard label - sensitive (guess who), hotheaded (Reyna), and dumb asses (everyone else) - and nobody develops any other personality trait even in the epilogue. Even the so-called romance is suspect. Would any guy even want to place his salami within a mile of the personal space of a woman who clearly wants to make a baloney sandwich with that big ax of hers? Oh, Marc does. If The Ultra-Sensitive Romantic Hunk Redeems Clueless Woman To Love is your favorite plot, dig in. Me, I have an urge to gargle in vinegar after reading about Marc and Reyna.
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