Title: Norse Jewel
Author: Gina Conkle
Published: June 17th 2013 by Entangled Publishing, LLC
Narrated by: Braden Wright
Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
Format: Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date: 06-05-15
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Rating: 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
A stolen woman of rare qualities…
Seized by marauders and taken to the icy northlands by the wolf-eyed Viking warrior, Helena will do whatever it takes to earn her freedom and return to France.
A mighty Viking Chieftain…
Betrayal has turned Hakan’s heart to ice, but the spirited Frankish maid warms him in a way he’s never known. The spell she weaves leaves them both breathless, but can he keep his promise to return her home even if it means he’ll lose his precious jewel forever?
"I'll eat whatever you put in front of me." He grinned uneasily, eyeing the egg. "You'll not toss that at my head, will you?"
"This?" Helena held the light brown egg between thumb and forefinger. "Why would I do that?"
Sven glanced from Hakan to Helena. She cupped the egg and let it roll across her palm.
"Helena." Hakan's voice threaded with warning. "Twould please me greatly to have my eggs cooked this morn."
She gave the egg a small toss and it plopped into her palm intact. "As you wish."
NORSE JEWEL by Gina Conkle is an intriguing Viking romance. I loved the hunky warrior-turned-farmer hero and his sweet but strong French maid heroine and was fascinated by the historical aspects of the tale.
As the story opens, we meet Helena, who has been captured by Danish raiders who attacked her village and then sold to a Viking Chieftain, Hakan the Tall, as his thrall (slave). Hakan had originally sought an older thrall who could teach him Frankish but when he saw young, beautiful Helena, he could not resist buying her instead. Of course, Helena wants only to return home. She misses her family and her previous life when she had not been a slave. However, Helena is smart and talented - and very grateful that Hakan purchased her and did not leave her with the cruel, vindictive Danes.
When they arrive at Hakan's home in Svea, Helena learns how to cook and manage his household. Her weaving ability is found to be both useful and beautiful. Hakan treats her well and allows her much freedom as his housekeeper. All is not peaceful. Dangerous beserkers abound in the countryside; Old enemies threaten the peace; and long-held secrets see the light of day which threaten Hakan's desire to substitute his scythe for his sword and imperil the lives of those he holds dear.
As Hakan and Helena spend much time together, the chemistry between them is obvious. However, Helena was betrothed when she was captured and Hakan has vowed to never marry again after his first disastrous marriage. You will need to read this to find out if love finds a way...
I really liked both characters. Hakan was a fierce warrior but also a gentle, caring father. He was very respectful of Helena even though he was attracted to her and could have forced her to submit to him. Helena was strong and smart. I admired her steadfast determination to go home and her thought processes to make things happen. I wanted to shake them both for not admitting to their mutual attraction and, Helena, for insisting that she needed to go home!
This book was narrated by Braden Wright and his voice was the perfect choice for this tale. His accent was swoon-worthy when he voiced the male characters. He also did an awesome job with the female voices. This is the first book I've listened to that he's narrated, but I was solidly impressed and would not hesitate to pick up another book which he as narrated. I would rate his performance 5 Wine Glasses!
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes:
Hakan was a chieftain ready for battle. Fear, the haze of it like when the Danes had attacked her village, skittered across her skin.
"Break the fast with me," she pleaded softly.
He hooked a finger under her chin. "You've convinced me to do many things I've not done before." He looked at the trees where her loom sat idle. "Like spend a summer day in the shade, and now you want me to keep my ship, my men, waiting. What will you have me do next?"He paused as if drinking in the sight of her. He hadn't shaved, and his jaw bore several days' growth. She itched to know the feel of those blonde whiskers. Her lips parted with bold, unspoken invitation.
Danes, Norse... all were from the northlands in the eyes of her people. To their fright-frozen minds, Hakan was another of the dreaded Norse, sweeping over the land like a plague and leaving little in the wake. But summer had yielded a different crop for her: not all Norse were vicious raiders out for death and plunder.
Hakan braced one foot on a rock. "And now the Norse wolf brings you safely home."...
"Aye," she said.
"I love the smell of you. Sea air, leather, and your skin...all of you." She sewed soft kisses over his chest, inching toward the hollow at the base of his neck. "You'll never be free of me."
His arms tightened like manacles, squeezing her closer. "Never have I wanted to be free of you."
"Freedom isn't found in a place, Hakan."
Even though there was a very satisfying conclusion to this book, I really hated for it to end. So I was more than thrilled to learn that this is the first installment in a planned trilogy and that both Hakan and Helena will appear in the ensuing books! The next book will be NORSE FIRE and the finale book will be NORSE WOLF. I can't wait!
I've loved Viking romances since I read Kathleen Woodiwiss' THE WOLF AND THE DOVE many years ago. I found NORSE JEWEL to be an heart-warming Viking love story in a fascinating historical setting. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys Viking romances.