May 8 2013 4:15pm

Ships Ahoy!: Viking Romance

The Vikings promotional photoLong before the History Channel brought us the TV series Vikings, stories of Viking adventure and romance have been making blood race and hearts flutter. When we say “long before,” we mean long before. The Viking storytelling tradition goes back to ancient times, when skalds told their tales of gods and kings around roaring fires. Over a thousand years later, what’s the appeal of these ancient adventurers?

For one thing, Vikings have the market cornered on the tall, blond and handsome angle. What woman wouldn’t like to find someone who looks like True Blood’s Eric Northman between the covers…of a great book? Whether flaunting barbarian chic of their own era or transplanted to modern times, as in Sandra Hill’s two Viking time travel series, Vikings stand head and shoulders (literally) above the competition. Strong, fit, able to fight and :ahem: love with vigor, Vikings fit the bill for readers looking for a natural alpha type.

Fires of Winter by Johanna LindseyLove to travel? Vikings really get around. Really. Raiding or exploring, Viking tales aren’t restricted to the chilly north, but expand across the globe, to the British Isles, Miklagard (Istanbul to us modern types) and even the Americas, bringing back treasures from afar and even intermarrying with those from other lands, adding new customs and legends to their own. Though Vikings often enslaved captives, in a romance like Johanna Lindsey’s classic Fires of Winter, the start of her Hadraad family trilogy, it’s frequently the warrior who finds himself—or herself—enthralled.

Rooted in myth and legend, Vikings are a natural for paranormal romance as well. Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe’s Lord of Fire and Ice weaves fiery Norse magic around a timeless romance, and Corinna Lawson’s Dinah of Seneca invites readers to an alternate historical world where Vikings, Romans, and Native Americans populate ancient America.

Dream of Me/Believe in Me by Josie LittonReaders who like an inspirational or even philosophical thread in their historicals, might want to consider giving Viking romances such as Josie Litton’s two-in-one release, Dream of Me/Believe in Me, or Renee Vincent’s Raeliksen, a try. While avoiding heavy-handed preaching, a hero who’s not afraid to explore his spiritual side can add a certain depth to an already emotional story, and lovers who come from such different belief systems have a strong conflict sure to keep readers turning pages.

Ah, the stories. With Vikings, it always comes back to the stories. Even before the written word, Vikings knew the appeal of curling up with a great story around a crackling fire, a beverage of choice close at hand. Mia Marlowe’s Maidensong features a storyteller heroine who risked her very life to tell tales of love…and live a love story of her own in the process.

With the strong storytelling tradition, one might imagine Vikings’ biggest complaint about their depiction in romance novels is that there aren’t more of them. What are your favorite Viking romances?


Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

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Linda M Hart
1. Linda M Hart
Anna, you've mentioned the authors of all my favourites! Joanna Lindsey, Josie Litton, and Mia Marlow writing as Diana Groh! I'll have to look at the others as well. The 'to be read' list grows!
Anna Bowling
2. AnnaBowling
Thanks, Linda. You're not the only reader with one eye on the horizon for more Viking romances. You won't want to miss Mia Marlowe's third volume in the Song trilogy, Dragonsong, coming in November.
Rachel Immel
3. 715helva
Hate to dash people's fantasies, but back in the good ol' days (9th and 10th centuries) most vikings weren't all that big. At least, not compared to today's people. I saw Viking helmets and armor in an Oslo museum, and the guys were pretty short. Same with Highlanders and Roman legionaires. People just weren't that big (food supply was mostly to blame, or lack of). To my knowledge, one of the few authors to remark on the size differences is Chelsa Quinn Yarbro who mentions that Saint Germain was "considered a tall man" in his youth now "I am barely average height". Of course, there are historical exceptions. One of the Tzars was huge for his day, and I think one of the real exploratory vikings was also. But, fantasy is what we love, so we can make our heroes whatever size we want!
Anna Bowling
4. AnnaBowling
@715helva, how cool that you were able to see real Viking armor. It's true that some of our tall historical heroes owe their height more to creative license and/or fantasy, but as Saint Germain reminds us, sometimes size is relative.
Linda M Hart
5. 715helva
And, we all know (hope) that size really doesn't matter! :-)
Kerly Luige
6. Celebrinnen
@715helva, it is Peter I the Great, the Tzar you mean :) And he really was tall (203 cm). And about the height, I have also heard that most of the vikings were actually quite short (several of them having a red head), I believe it were the Angles that later inhabited England that brought along the blood of the tall and blonde :)
Linda M Hart
7. Nicola O
Oh, man, I had forgotten about Josie Litton. I loved those books.

Kris Tualla is writing Vikings -- she caught my eye at RT last year but I confess I haven't followed through with a read yet.
Cathy M. Runke
8. ccr0816
Hands down, Sandra Hill. Her books have you laughing all the way through.
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