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The Reluctant Berserker Paperback – March 25, 2017
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The book is very charter driven. The two main protagonists are apart for the majority of the plot. So there is a lot pining and fantasizing instead of gradual falling in love. But when they meet at last, their relationship is very tender and sweet. I loved Wulfstan and Leofgar as a couple. I love how their differences, their misfit personas completed and complimented each other. I have no hard time imagining their happily ever after. The antagonists of the book were quite a delight – they had depth and emotional complexity that you rarely meet in romance books.
Their adventures had very separate nature, with Leofgar’s much more developed and interesting. I still don’t sure if magic was real in Wulfstan’s sub-plot… Or if it was something those people believed. I also not sure whether I liked it or not.
The major point of the story supposed to be about identity; excepting yourself, being who you are and not what it is expected of you, about freedom of choice and so on. And while those motives present in the story, somehow above the surface it mostly dealt with “should one take it up his… you know, or not”. And it bothered me a bit, because they talked about this so much. And in the end we even didn’t get the steamy scene… it was barely implied.
'"It will be chill tonight," he dropped down on the bench beside his friend and felt the warmth of the man's sturdy thigh against his own. "Will you share your cloak with me?"
Cenred laughed and ducked his head to whisper, "How little time it takes to overcome your scruples, my friend."
"Mock me and sleep cold." Wulfstan made to rise, nettled, but Cenred caught the hem of his tunic and urged him back down.'
This is another gloriously written book. The words evocative and thought-provoking -
'Wise men said there were demons in the forest, elf-folk and mound-folk, ettins and earth spirits. But Leofgar had journeyed in the waste place all his life and did not fear such things. It was men he feared, and now he recognised the threat by the pleasure it brought when it was withdrawn.'
The story was fascinating. The relationship(s) and people totally believable. I loved the MCs, Wulfstan and Leofgar. As individuals, they were good people with desires and needs that didn't necessarily fit the standard. It was a different time, and we are worlds apart, but they felt so familiar to me. As a couple, I loved them. This could have been a mess in a lesser author's hands - taking two characters in this period and flipping societal expectations of what/who they should be. How they deal with it. The place of music, the place of warriors, some action, some magic, religion, forgiveness, and love, were all lovingly written. Even the secondary characters are given the time to develop and are intriguing.
I felt completely transported to Anglo-Saxon Britain in the 9th century AD. That's what I want, fiction rooted in fact. I prefer nothing out of place. I need appropriate use of language that will allow me total immersion into another time and culture. Little things/big things about tradition, ideas, the people, the clothing, behaviour and expectations. I definitely got it all in The Reluctant Berserker.
I review in depth at On Top Down Under Book Reviews
Ahhhh, I could feel Wulfstan's deep sigh of happiness as I finished reading this lovely historical. Wulfstan is a warrior who wants to submit to a lover and Leofgar is a scop (musician and a poet-singer - I looked it up!) who travels from place to place to earn his living. When these two meet there is immediate chemistry but this meeting does not end well and it is some time before they cross paths again.
I loved that the author chose the manly Wulfstan to be the character who wanted to be dominated by a lover while still being a respected warrior. Wulfstan, it turns out is the character the title reflects, as he has a temper that blinds him at times, like a berserker.
Leofgar is not a submissive man, though fate gave him the delicate looks that make many men feel certain that he would want someone to master him. This gets him into trouble often and he assumes that is why Wulfstan is attracted to him as well, so he runs.
Excellent slow build romance that will take you on an adventure and reward you with a happy ending. Loved it.
There was a lot of angst with the two main characters & their desires being a sin against God and that whoever submitted was considered a "woman" or "catamite" by one of the main characters. There were many times when the author called the two main characters as boys or youths, but then at other times they were referred to as men, as in fully grown men.
I'm giving it 4 stars for the historical fiction portion which was well written & 2 stars for the M/M Romance, which was quite lame.
Thus, an average of 3 stars.
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For original review see The Prism Book Alliance Blog online
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