Review by Veronica

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“Her eyes still flashed dangerously, but Geir didn’t mind. She was even prettier when she was angry, and, truth be told, he was quite enjoying having her in his arms.” 

Get ready to be swept into Christina Courtenay’s world of time-slipping with latest novel Tempted by the Runes. 

Madison Berger is visiting Dublin with her family for a Viking re-enactment festival, when she chances upon a small knife embedded in the banks of the Liffey. Maddie recognises what the runes on the knife’s handle signify: the chance to have her own adventures in the past.

Maddie only intends to travel back in time briefly, but a skirmish in ninth century Dublin results in her waking up on a ship bound for Iceland, with the man who saved her from attack.

Geir Eskilsson has left his family in Sweden to boldly carve out a life of his own. He is immediately drawn to Maddie, but when he learns of her connection to his sisters-in-law, he begins to believe that Fate has played a part in bringing them together. Amidst the perils that await on their journey to a new land, the truest battle will be to win Maddie’s heart and convince her that the runes never lie…

When Rachel’s Random Resources asked us if we wanted to be a part of the book blog tour for Tempted by the Runes, I saw the cover and found myself falling in love with this book without even knowing what it was about. I am a sucker for a pretty book cover. Once I could tear my eyes away from the cover, I read the synopsis and was instantly intrigued. I haven’t read anything set during the Viking era, and I love the whole time-slip concept. I knew I had to get my hands on this book and see if the story was as good as it sounds. Tempted by the Runes is the third book in Catherine’s time-slip series. Each book reads as a stand-alone, but be warned that there are spoilers from previous books, and characters from early books make cameos.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the time-slip world that Catherine has created. Actually, this is the first time I heard of the concept of time-slipping and had to google it. For those who are newbies to the concept like I was, time-slipping is where a character(s) travel through time, often by unknown means; think Outlander. In this book, the characters can jump through time by using magical ancient items that have runes on them. Maddie finds one of these time-travelling items while mud larking in modern-day Dublin. She is no stranger to time-slipping, her sister and a friend have both gone into the Viking era using these magical objects (their stories are books one and two in the series). Maddie decides she wants to have her own time-slipping adventure. But of course, things don’t go according to plan, and Maddie is ambushed by a group of men and ends up being knocked out. Geir witnesses the attack on Maddie and steps in to rescue her. He ends up taking Maddie on his ship as he heads off to Iceland to start a settlement. In a strange twist of fate, it turns out that Geir is also no stranger to time-slipping, but you will have to read the book to find out more.

You can tell that Catherine has done her research. She has put a lot of thought and detail into describing how the settlements in Iceland were established and everyday life during that time. I enjoy the grittiness of the world she created. I thought it was also interesting to see that clash of beliefs and ideals from the two time periods. Maddie struggled with certain aspects of Viking life, and Geir didn’t understand why she was upset when they would hunt animals or own thralls (slaves). These things were necessary for him to survive, especially when establishing a new settlement. These clash of beliefs and way of life created plenty of conflict between the two main characters.

Maddie and Geir are likeable main characters. I did find myself enjoying Geir’s character more than Maddie’s. He is just the perfect historical romance male lead. He appears tough and gruff, but a big kind heart exists under that gruffness. I did sometimes find that Maddie was a bit immature and moody, and it drove me crazy. But to be fair, she was only 19 years old and was going through a lot at such a young age, so I’m trying not to judge actions too harshly. There are steamy moments between these two characters, but not over-the-top steam. Catherine did a great job at building the chemistry between these two, and I did enjoy the scenes where they were together.  

The only problem I had with this book was that the writing would get choppy at times. I would be drawn into the world that Catherine had created, and then there would be a few sentences or a paragraph that didn’t fit right, or the story would jump in a funny manner, which would destroy that spell Catherine was creating. This choppiness did make reading this book a bit of a jarring reading experience. 

If you are looking for a historical romance book with a time-slipping twist, you should read Tempted by the Runes. 

Thank you Rachel Random Resources for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.