14 December 2008

Viking Romance

Not even Harlequin romances are immune from the Vikings! A recent one (published June 2008), by Michelle Styles, is entitled Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife (pretty much sums up the genre, that!). Styles writes what are known as 'Unusual Historicals' and ranges across a number of periods. The cover of this one is definitely more Harlequin than Viking, but the author has clearly done some research for the story, which is apparently a sequel to an earlier book of hers called Taken by the Viking. In this new book, the heroine Sela is reunited with her ex-husband Vikar Hrutson, who 'knows the truth about Lindisfarne.' Sounds fascinating... Read an excerpt from the book on the author's website and there is an interview with the author here.


  1. One of the good things about Harlequin Mills & Boon is that they did let me put a research note and books for further reading in the back of my books.
    As an author, I leave the marketing up to the publisher and thus make no claims for the title or the cover. Personally I prefer the US cover to the UK cover. But the powers that be at Harlequin Mills & Boon know their market and cheesy titles sell much better than po faced ones.
    One of the things I am hoping to do is to provoke an interest in the subject from people who might have been turned off history at school. It is supposed to be good escapist fun while trying to show that Viking culture was quite complex, rather than being simply brutal warriors.
    Viking romances tend to do well both in the UK and in the NA markets. I think it is the whole warrior culture thing. And my books are escapist reading, entertainment rather than serious literature. All they are trying to do is to provide a few hours of pleasure but with a little bit of history added.

  2. Very nice to hear from you. I'm not normally a reader of Harlequin romances, but I'm all in favour of anything that provokes an interest, as you say, in the Vikings, and it's good to see that you are doing this.

  3. Somehow, I didn't think you would be a regular reader of Mills & Boon or Harlequin. Romance is a popular genre but it is escapist and is not for everyone. And like chocolate, a surfiet can leave you queasy. But it can be a way in for those people who might otherwise be too frightened to pick up a history book and can get them interested in history. Or it can get a teenager interested in the period.
    When I was first asked to write Vikings, I had a long conversation with my sister who did her history degree at Oslo University about the strengths and weaknesses of Viking romances. She was quite scathing about some, mainly because of the protrayal of the Vikings. So I had to work hard to satisfy her. She was also helpful when certain words such as Thing kept pulling my editor out of the story. We compromised on Storting which is the Norwegian assembly.
    But it is always a balance and the books are not pretending to be anything other than escapist literature. My fingers remain crossed that some day I will hear from a reader who became interested in Old Norse literature because of the books, but right now I settle for amusing women who have breast cancer or are housebound or just simply need to escape.