Historical Romance Review: Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson

historical romance review
Tara's Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson
Rating: two-stars
Published: 1978
Illustrator: George Ziel
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Harem Romance, Medieval Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson


The Book

Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson is another mediocre Viking romance that disappoints.

Written in the late 1970s at the height of the down-and-dirty bodice ripper era, you’d expect this Viking romance to be rapacious and fun. Alas, I found it rather ho-hum.

The Plot

Having been betrayed by love in the past (the heroine is not a virgin, if it matters), the blonde Irish beauty Tara enters a convent. Despite what the book burb claims, Tara is not a mere novice. She is a full-fledged nun who has taken all her religious vows.

For some mysterious reason, some of her sister nuns provide Tara with Nordic runes and teach her how to cast them to foresee the future. Obviously, the elder sisters had the prescience to know a horde of ravenous Vikings would overtake their convent. So the runic readings would come in handy for Tara’s protection later.

Tara’s new life begins when Rorik captures her. He, of the long, curly, reddish-blond hair and two long mustaches that reach past his chin, but with no beard. Just like the Viking mascot on a Minnesota footballer’s helmet.

I imagined Rorik as a young metal god, like a cross between Dave Mustaine & James Hetfield, only with lots of muscles.

Sadly, even though Rorik is a marauder, he’s BORING. Like so many Viking books I’ve read, the hero is set up as a bad-ass warrior who kills and slays hundreds, but we don’t get to experience it!

We rarely see Rorik do anything exciting as the story is told in a constrictive first-person perspective.

Tara In the North

The POV is a hindrance here. Tara tells rather than shows what’s going on. There’s a lot of info-dumping and information overload.

Some of it is wildly inaccurate, like people eating potatoes in Norway in the late 900s. That reminded me of the “chocolate”-colored eyes that the wicked “other woman” from Johanna Lindsey‘s Hearts Aflame had.

Chocolate, potatoes, corn, tomatoes… None of those things are European in origin.

Research, people. It’s an essential thing!

The Vikings were portrayed as dirty and unkempt, men who never bathed, had ungroomed beards, and wore clichéd two-horned helmets into battle.

Anyway, Rorik doesn’t force himself on Tara as a pillaging Viking would. He romantically seduces her into his bed.

Meh. Give me a Viking who’s a pillager first, then learns to be romantic and civilized later on (to a certain extent).

Where’s the fun in the fantasy if the hunky Viking doesn’t take me, I mean, the heroine, over his shoulder and have his forcefully erotic way with her? Why does a Viking pirate have to charm her into his bed?

That’s for Regency rakes, not brutish Vikings.

This Viking Romance Has a Twist

At least there is a naughty twist to follow. Rorik is a polygamist, as he brings Tara home to his harem of wives.

That’s right, Rorik has not one but two wives. Tara is wifey number three.

As a pious Christian, she resents this. So she prays for the day that Rorik will cast off his other wives and divorce them as God intended. He should be with only her because that would be the honorable thing. 

For her. 

When Tara doesn’t give in to Rorik’s lust, he goes to the other wives to satisfy him. But it’s Tara he loves, not those losers!

Eventually, one of Rorik’s wives plots against them. Rorik and Tara are kidnapped and separately sold into slavery in the east.

Tara In the East

When the hero is bland in a bodice ripper, and the main characters are parted for a long time, I don’t mind. So as long as the heroine experiences some fun (read: sexy) experiences.

Regrettably, Tara’s adventures without Rorik are as entertaining as her adventures with him.

With some of the lesser-known bodice ripper authors, you were bound to get some amusing exploits. Not in this book!

Here Tara’s escapades consist of getting the flu during the worst winter ever. Or getting her first taste of eating oranges.

There was Tara in Norway shopping. Now here’s Tara in Constantinople shopping!

The most interesting character in the book is Olav, an older Viking who is also enslaved as well as castrated. He is Tara’s faithful companion.

Olav could have been a complex character. Lamentably, Ferry takes his personality, heart, and emotions away with his balls.

His devotion to Tara is that of a slavish, dog-like protector, not that of a man who can ever physically or emotionally love. It would have been intriguing to see a eunuch engage in sexy antics–just for the WTF factor (like in Bertrice Small’s Enchantress Mine).

But no, nothing special happens in Tara’s Song.

This Harem Romance Has a Twist

Actually, that’s not 100% true, as there is one mildly engaging scenario after Tara gets kidnapped.

She then gets seduced by a handsome and arrogant, overbearing Muslim slaver. Although she enjoys his lovemaking, Tara finds him so arrogant. How dare he lust after her gorgeous body!

Then, mere days later, Tara is dismayed to see a sexy, young male slave dance his way into her lover’s bed.

Guess Tara’s not as hot as she thinks!

Again, a faintly similar situation was portrayed in Enchantress Mine. However, that situation was more shocking and actually entertaining.

And I wasn’t all that crazy about Enchantress Mine because I hated the too-perfect heroine. So to me, Tara’s Song is the lesser book.

Final Analysis of Tara’s Song

O, ancient gods of the Norse! At times Tara’s Song was as dry as the turkey from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

 photo griswold_turkey.jpg


It does get good during the last few pages when Rorik once and for all displays his brutal warrior skills instead of the reader just being told about it. He viciously makes mincemeat out of his enemies. He slaughters them all, demonstrating his awesome Nordic might.

Too bad; too late. Where was that Rorik 400 pages ago?

I’d put this book in the to-sell pile, but I adore the George Ziel cover art too much.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.4


Hers is the song of all women. It cries to be heard as she sings of her love for one man. Listen! Tara’s Song.

He Was The Strongest Man of His Time–Until She Became His Weakness…

Beautiful, devout young Tara, a novice in a country abbey, finds her cloistered life suddenly destroyed when Viking invaders burn the convent and take her prisoner. Wedded against her will to the pagan chieftain Rorik, Tara slowly overcomes her fear as Rorik introduces her to the joy of passionate love.

Then a vicious abduction separates the lovers–and their search to be reunited takes them from the dramatic northern fjords to the shores of the Black Sea from Arabian domed palaces and the slave marts of Constantinople to an isolated Greek island. For the love of Tara and Rorik must survive the ravages of war, the cruel twists of treachery, and the challenge of a vast continent…


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