2 1/2 stars
Mary Gillgannon’s Storm Maiden was a novel I was excited to pick up. The blurb told of an intriguing Viking historical romance with plenty of conflicts. Fiona, an Irish lord’s daughter, is dreading marriage to a man she hates. In her father’s dungeon is Dag Thorsson, an injured Viking captive. Fiona sneaks in to see him, cares for his wounds, and tries to seduce him so she’ll be ruined for marriage. But Dag is too wounded and delirious and can’t or won’t do the job.
Soon after, Vikings led by Dag’s brother, the chieftain of his people, come to Dag’s rescue. Despite his hindering injury to his sword arm, Dag takes Fiona as his captive.
This seemed to be a primal captor-captive relationship. Too often in Viking historical romance books, the hero speaks the heroine’s language because her people captured him as a youth! Here, they cannot understand one another but can communicate in other ways…
Fiona has to adjust to life as a slave. She cannot communicate with any of the Norse folk, except for Dag’s brother, who hates her and all the Irish.
The book starts out well enough and the early love scenes are erotically charged. Dag and Fiona quickly get along and fall in love.
The main conflict is that Fiona is not well-liked by Dag’s older brother and his people. Her helpful but intrusive ways are looked upon with scorn by most of the men. Fiona helps the women with birth control and delivers babies. She gives a woman advice on how to please her master sexually. Fiona’s behavior brings negative attention to her, and she is thought to be a witch. Fiona’s a full-fleshed character and one to be admired. This was the strongest part of the book, and I appreciated her struggles to become accepted in her new society. She just needed a more challenging hero. After an amazing beginning, things began to fizzle, and the romance wasn’t thrilling.
Their romance is cemented early on, and they only face obstacles from outside forces, as Dag is torn between respecting his brother–his leader–and his love for Fiona. When there is so little inner conflict between the two leads, things get a little bland.
There are villains aplenty, and Fiona is often in danger, but Dag is never there to save the day. This is the most annoying aspect in the novel as Dag’s sword arm is severely injured throughout the story, so he never gets to show off his warrior prowess, which is so essential in a good Viking hero. It’s Fiona who is more of a fighter. And she had many enemies who would make her life miserable.
Dag’s a nice guy. Too nice. As in boring. Hey, I like nice guys heroes; they can make me melt more them some sadistic jerk that treats the heroine like crap. I know the early Norse were democratic men and allowed women to divorce their husbands and own their own property, but you expect a little bit of tough-guy persona when you read a Viking romance. I enjoyed some sweet aspects of Dag’s personality, such as his love for his doggy companion. But when Dag started becoming a mouthpiece for 20th-century beliefs, like concern for women’s rights and access to birth control, it just rang a bit anachronistic, pulling me out of the story.
Final Analysis of Storm Maiden:
I don’t read historical romances because I want to see modern-minded characters cloaked in historical trappings. If I feel the need for a more modern-minded hero, then I’ll read contemporary romances. I can count on one hand the number of hard-core Viking warrior heroes I’ve come across. It’s a shame that true, kick-ass Vikings are so rare in historical romance as protagonists. Villains, sure. Heroes? Pfft.
Storm Maiden was not a bad book, but not a great one either.