It’s a real pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for the latest book from Christina Courtenay, Tempted by the Runes, and sharing my review: to be published by Headline Review on 9th December, it’s available for preorder for kindle, in paperback and as an audiobook via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
I’ve enjoyed Christina’s books ever since I read my first way back in 2013: any initial reservations I might have had around reading about the Vikings have long been banished, and I’ve loved every book in this wonderful series. First there was Echoes of the Runes (you’ll find that review here), then The Runes of Destiny (review here) – and I then equally enjoyed the third, Whispers of the Runes (you’ll find that review here). Don’t be put off by the mention of “series” – although there are links and some recurring characters (something I always find a particular treat), there’s absolutely nothing to stop you reading any one of the books as a standalone. Ninth century, here I come…
Born centuries apart. Bound by a love that defied time.
She couldn’t believe her eyes. The runes were normally so reliable and she had never doubted them before.
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 9th 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…
If you’re ever a little bored, left alone in your Dublin hotel room after taking part in a Viking re-enactment, mud-larking on the banks of the Liffey is something you might prefer to avoid – but if you do, and you find a knife with a phrase inscribed on the handle, don’t read it out loud then cut your finger with it just to see what happens. Like Maddie, you might just find yourself whisked back in time to the ninth century, saved from danger by a handsome visiting Viking, then on a ship bound for a new life in Iceland.
But she’s particularly well equipped for it – wearing the right clothes (and her modern day leggings underneath to keep her warm), fluent in the language, reads the runes, and adept at a lot of the other skills she’ll need to thrive in the Viking age thanks to her involvement in all those re-enactments. She’s also a bit of a kick-ass heroine, trained in martial arts – which she’ll undoubtedly find rather useful in lawless times. And she’s certainly not unfamiliar with the notion of time travel – her parents (a couple we know well from an earlier book) are unlikely to worry about her sudden disappearance because several other family members have already made a similar journey. But she’s only nineteen, and is considerably less comfortable with the growing feelings between her and Viking Geir – although, as a member of the Eskilsson family, he’s come across women who come from the future world a few times before.
I really love this series – I’m entirely comfortable now with the whole notion of time travel, although I do know some readers might find it a tad more difficult to suspend their disbelief. But the way the author uses her research to bring the ninth century so vividly to life just takes my breath away – this time we’re back in the days when Reykjavik was only Vik, a relatively new settlement not hostile to others arriving to seek their fortunes. Geir and his band of travellers find an inlet further along the coast that they can call home, with flat ground to build their homes, and even a hot spring for washing and relaxation. The detail is just wonderful – the blacksmith making nails to secure their first hall’s timbers, the felling of trees, the weaving of clothing, the foraging for food and the care of the livestock. I particularly liked the way we also got Maddie’s modern take on issues – driving welcome changes to the treatment of the thralls, but also her horror at the hunting of walruses for their tusks, the slaughter of baby seals for their skins, and the killing of seabirds (now long extinct) for their meat.
And at the heart of the story, there’s a developing romance I entirely believed in – both Maddie and Geir were characters I really took to my heart – although there’s plenty of conflict and angst on the way to their hoped for happy ending. The writing and story-telling is superb – the whole story has perfect pace, moments of considerable drama, well-developed supporting characters along with the relationships between them, and plenty of well-judged humour. Whether you’re drawn to this book by the history, the whole idea of time travel, or the romance, you really can’t fail to love it. I most certainly did, and I thought it was the best in the series so far – I recommend it very highly.
With thanks to Christina and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a signed paperback copy of Tempted By The Runes, a pair of silver Thor’s hammer earrings and a Thor’s hammer Christmas tree bauble (open internationally).
Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014). Tempted by the Runes (time travel published by Headline 9th December 2021) is her latest novel.. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).