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The Reluctant Berserker (2014)

The Reluctant Berserker (2014)

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3.58 of 5 Votes: 4
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1619217430 (ISBN13: 9781619217430)
samhain publishing

About book The Reluctant Berserker (2014)

“I know all the songs tell us how terrible it is to be alone, without place or protector, a wanderer in the wilderness. I can recite the lament of the lordless with every syllable dripping with woe. It isn’t to be alone that I fear, it is to be caged. Bound to some man who thinks that because he feeds you he thus owns you.That his are the words that come out of your mouth, and his are your thoughts— that you exist only to praise and serve him. How can a man of pride bear that? How can any real man be content as another’s servant?”Wulfstan has a secret. A secret that would shame him in the sight of his family and friends. He craves the touch of a man as other men crave the touch of a woman. Except it is worse than that…he craves the touch of a man, as a woman crave a man’s. One can be forgiven-–or at least ignored–-but the other is unforgivable. For no real man would debase himself thus.Leofgar has his pride and his instruments--but not much more than that. Anna, his master, and pseudo-father, is ailing, and it is not likely that he will last past winter, if that. When a lord offers them shelter in exchange for their fealty, Leofgar says he will do anything to insure that Anna is kept warm and fed. But the offer comes with some strings that Leofgar is unsure if he can be bound with, no matter how much he loves Anna. How can a man willingly debase himself so…and still be a man?When Wulfstan takes a life to keep his secret, and Leofgar breaks his oath to save his pride, they throw their lives and their fates to the winds. They never expected to find their weirds (fates)so inexplicably tied. But Leofgar does not know if he can see past the shame of the acts they crave, no matter that Wulfstan would freely yield himself to the minstrels will. And even if he can, they are both being haunted by their pasts, and neither is willing to give up their hold lightly.I freely admit that I have never been a big reader of historicals set in this time frame. I’m more of a tight pants, high collars, and top-hats, kind of gal (especially when they are all lying haphazardly on my bedroom floor). I also enjoy at least a nodding acquaintance with indoor plumbing and bathing practices. These are not exactly things you are going to find in the Middle Ages. But I also freely admit that I am willing to try at least anything, if it is well written and wonderfully executed. And this book really does fit that bill.Clearly this book was well researched…or, well, it was able to sound well-researched. As I am in no ways a scholar on the Middle Ages, I honestly can’t say much about the facts. But when it comes to setting an atmosphere, this book had it spot on. I loved the subtle mix of archaic terms within the novel. It lent the story a sense of age, but it was done in such a way as to not leave us overly confused about what was going on. And the blending of the old pagan cultures with the Christian belief system was very well done. It was great to see the way that the two seemed to both feed off and pull away from each other at the same time.This book also played well with the idea of wants vs. perceived roles. Wulfstan is a big brute. He is a berserker, and has extreme trouble controlling the rage that bursts out from him when he is threatened. But at the same time he desires to be taken care of. Not only in bed–-though that one is a deep source of shame for him, during most of the book-–but in life. Outside his is all that his society expects of a man, and inside he is everything they find shameful. It takes a long time for him to come to terms with the fact that what he craves is not by any means a weakness. It is just another side of strength.Alternately, Leofgar is a beauty. But this is not the only thing that makes him seem weak to others. His profession, while an honorable one, is not exactly the most manly thing to undertake. That, along with his looks, leaves him open for taunting and unwanted attention. Yet, like Wulfstan, all is not what it seems, because if there is one thing that Leofgar will not do, it is bend for any man.And here, my lovelies, is where we start running into trouble. Wulfstan wants to be fucked. Leofgar wants to fuck. It should be a match made in heaven. But dear lords in heaven…these two are about as thick as a block of concrete when it comes to their ‘relationship.’ Even when they finally-–and I’m talking about 90% mark–-come to realize what the other wants, Leofgar gets all righteous and refuses to bugger the poor bastard. I swear this story was a step-by-step guide on how to cock-block with the best of them. And then, when they get around to sorting all their personal shit out, the sex lasts for like half a page. The tension has been racking up for a good 300+ pages, and it has really had a lousy payout. I am a big, huge, ginormous fan of slow-burns…but I do expect something to catch on fire eventually. I want a flame, not a flicker.The writing in this story was great. And the atmosphere in it was so much fun. But sometimes it just got way too flowery. I love a metaphor as much as the next girl, but when I have to re-read a fight scene three times to figure out exactly whom is hacking whom to pieces, it gets a bit tiresome. I did like that it was Wulfstan who was the more poetic of the two-—I think it mirrored nicely the whole notion of misleading preconceived notions of masculinity and personal taste-–but it did seem a little odd that the poet/minstrel was more down to earth in his narrative voice, than the berserker.This book kept me glued to my Kindle, and since I wasn’t expecting that at all, it was a big bonus. And it also was nice to have a few pagan rituals pop up in the story, since I am a big fan of Norse mythology. I really enjoyed reading this story, much more than I ever expected too, and will definitely be looking up more books by this author. And if liked it this much, fans of the era are going to love it.4.5 starsThis book was provided free in exchange for a fair and honest review for Love Bytes. Go there to check out other reviews, author interviews, and all those awesome giveaways. Click below.

I added in one of my status updates (Alex Beecroft writes beautifully. You forget until you go back into one of her books.) It's true. Every time I read one of her books I am always in awe of the prose and the overall quality of writing. "It will be chill tonight," he dropped down on the bench beside his friend and felt the warmth of the man's sturdy thigh against his own. "Will you share your cloak with me?"Cenred laughed and ducked his head to whisper, "How little time it takes to overcome your scruples, my friend." "Mock me and sleep cold." Wulfstan made to rise, nettled, but Cenred caught the hem of his tunic and urged him back down. This is another gloriously written book. The words evocative and thought-provoking -Wise men said there were demons in the forest, elf-folk and mound-folk, ettins and earth spirits. But Leofgar had journeyed in the waste place all his life and did not fear such things. It was men he feared, and now he recognised the threat by the pleasure it brought when it was withdrawn.The story was fascinating. The relationship(s) and people totally believable. I loved the MCs, Wulfstan and Leofgar. As individuals, they were good people with desires and needs that didn't necessarily fit the standard. It was a different time, and we are worlds apart, but they felt so familiar to me. As a couple, I loved them. This could have been a mess in a lesser author's hands - taking two characters in this period and flipping societal expectations of what/who they should be. How they deal with it. The place of music, the place of warriors, some action, some magic, religion, forgiveness, and love, were all lovingly written. Even the secondary characters are given the time to develop and are intriguing. I felt completely transported to Anglo-Saxon Britain in the 9th century AD. That's what I want, fiction rooted in fact. I prefer nothing out of place. I need appropriate use of language that will allow me total immersion into another time and culture. Little things/big things about tradition, ideas, the people, the clothing, behaviour and expectations. I definitely got it all in The Reluctant Berserker.Detailed review -

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A young bard with the countenance of an angel and a fierce berserker, proud and unpredictable. Their paths cross, a catalyst, setting in motion a series of events that drive them both. Beautiful language that lures one in is probably one of my favorite aspects to the story. The day’s voices had fallen silent, and now the town was filled with the whispering of the sea.The turf was soft beneath them and smelled of ancient heather and dust—long-ago vanished summers in a time of giants.The grave was a black stroke on a green page behind him, as though God had drawn a line to end the tale of Anna.The jangle of Fealo’s harness was like a dropped plate on a flagged floor as he tossed his head up and snorted, the only sound in a world struck dumb.So, I was seduced. The tale unfolded much in the way one would expect of a medieval story. Measured in pace, never harried, understated, and of course, a journey. I also found out that my Middle English was incredibly rusty, but it was nice to fall back into it. Some great details for weapons and armory to trades to construction are so quietly laid down during the story telling. And the friction between pagan and Christian beliefs and their overlap was nicely done. A thoroughly enjoyable read. This is not a wild sex-a-thon of rape and pillaging, but a more deliberate story and quite chaste in the carnal aspects. Favorite quote: “Are you so very perfect yourself, son, that you must make yourself the right hand of God’s judgment?”

A Joyfully Jay review.4.5 starsYou know how some books just have a sweeping epic feeling, where the story feels like a journey? Well, this is definitely one of them. In The Reluctant Beserker, Alex Beecroft manages to so wonderfully create this world that I was completely immersed in it. It is portrayed with such wonderful detail – the settings, the food, the weapons, the language. Every element feels so perfectly part of the time and rings with total authenticity. We can completely imagine life under these Saxon lords, with the complex social structures and the rules for what makes a man. And Beecroft gives us such a lovely story of two men who don’t fit those molds and how they struggle to find their places.Read Jay's review in its entirety here.
—Joyfully Jay

Ms. Beecroft has the wonderful ability to set a scene so that it is vivid in your mind and then to lace it with language that puts you soundly into a different place in time. This is something we don't get in our contemporary reading and reminds me why I was hooked on MF historical romances for so many years.Ahhhh, I could feel Wulfstan's deep sigh of happiness as I finished reading this lovely historical. Wulfstan is a warrior who wants to submit to a lover and Leofgar is a scop (musician and a poet-singer - I looked it up!) who travels from place to place to earn his living. When these two meet there is immediate chemistry but this meeting does not end well and it is some time before they cross paths again.I loved that the author chose the manly Wulfstan to be the character who wanted to be dominated by a lover while still being a respected warrior. Wulfstan, it turns out is the character the title reflects, as he has a temper that blinds him at times, like a berserker.Leofgar is not a submissive man, though fate gave him the delicate looks that make many men feel certain that he would want someone to master him. This gets him into trouble often and he assumes that is why Wulfstan is attracted to him as well, so he runs.Excellent slow build romance that will take you on an adventure and reward you with a happy ending. Loved it.
—Dee Wy

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