- Title: By Royal Command
- Author: Laura Navarre
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Historical
- Publisher: Carina Press, July 2012
- Source: NetGalley ($4.16 ebook)
- Length: 274 pages
- Trope(s): Widow, Alpha Male(s), Beta Hero, Big Misunderstanding, Simile Sex, Hair Fetish, Evil Royal Relation
- Quick blurb: Newly widowed niece of King Ethelred (he of the Unreadiness) is forced into a betrothal with a Norman nobleman – but she’s distracted by the large and tawny Viking assigned as her escort.
- Quick review: The author has a thesaurus, and she knows how to use it.
- Grade: D
Grappling with savage urgency in a riot of tumbled cushions, she plunged headlong into rapture in the arms of her wrathful angel.
Status Updates: Read With Me Vicariously
You can tell by the dates that I avoided writing this review.
- 09/12 – 40%: “…the curving shell of secrets nestled between her thighs” o.0
- 09/13 – 42%: This book is much more Bodice Ripper than I anticipated….
- 09/13 – 58%: The metaphors. EVERYTHING is a water, fire, weather or war metaphor. And the interjections. By Odin’s smelly underpants, the INTERJECTIONS! Lots of references to Odin and Thor, but no Loki yet. Heroine prefers to invoke St. Cuthbert and St. Wilfrid.
- 09/14 – 65%: The book that will never end. I made it this far, but this is taking WAY too long to finish.
- 09/15 – 78%: Still not done… *whimper*
- 09/17 – 100%: Finally finished, and I still haven’t quite distilled why this didn’t work for me.
When I finally started the distillation process, I had to put the crankypants on.
The writing style….
I can’t really call it the author’s “voice,” because I never really heard one. Instead, I felt bombarded with every literary device we learned in junior high language arts class. Action verbs. Adjectives. Metaphors. Interjections. Euphemisms. Rinse. Repeat.
As he fitted himself against her, an epiphany burst within….
She opened herself to the storm of sensation, reached for him with both arms as he surged inside to fill her. Their joining brought him toppling down on her, in the blazing splendor of the archbishop’s bed. He gripped her in the same desperate clutch, held her moored against his rapid thrusts. Her tight channel stretched to accept him, ripples of pleasure pulsing through her. Blindly, she struggled toward the conflagration.
Without warning, it ignited her. She dug her nails into his sinewed back and clung with all her strength. The cataclysm flung her high, outside herself, as he went rigid in her arms.
Fire, Heat & Light:
…He was ice and yet her burned her.
…For an instant, she burned in the dark flames that kindled in his glaze.
…Once she’d kindled like dry wood beneath his ravening flame.
Earth, Wind & Water:
…She cried out, heedless of anything except the waves of pleasure surging over her. They left her beached against him, gasping, as the tide ebbed.
…They’d be lucky to weather this tempest without foundering on the shoals of disaster.
…In his wake, a sea of whispers foamed.
…She waged a desperate rearguard action against the impulse to burrow into his arms and hide her face against his chest.
…Without warning a serpent of acid and flame uncoiled in her belly. It struck at her womb with savage fangs, making her cry out.
…The savage teeth of anguish tore at her heart.
…The subject of her tortured thoughts had followed her scent to ground.
…Shaking his head, he said roughly, “Odin’s pain, we’re lost in this,” and dragged her into his arms.
…“By Odin’s lost eye, Katrin.” He panted. “I can’t – it must be now.”
Weird & Wonderful:
…A fey voice was singing in her blood, a siren’s song luring her to ruin. Like Odysseus, she saw her doom but strained toward it all the same.
…She scrambled for purchase along the slippery slope of truth.
…In the moment of blinding fire before darkness fell like a hammerblow, the night disgorged a dark shadow.
Hair on Fire:
…Firelight blazed in his gold-bright hair
…Riveted, she stared up at him, the fire burning in his golden hair
…The shreds fell away, leaving her clad in naught but a tangle of firelit hair
View more… LOTS more. It’s a bona fide Hair Fetish. I’m not kidding.
And, of course, lots more Simile Sex:
…He swallowed her desperate noises like wine as he flooded her with his essence. Then the waves closed over her head and she was drowning, spinning downward like a cork, like the plummet of her soul as she fell from grace. Katrin surfaced slowly from the dark sea of passion.
…All the way along her crevasse he stroked her to find that pulsing heart, the eye of the storm sweeping through her.
…His fingers slid between her moist folds to find the beating heart of her pleasure.
…The molten heat of hellfire pooled at her center.
I can’t even count the number of times I was kicked out of my reading trance. In a 274-page book, I had a total of 108 Kindle notes and highlights. Only a handful of those were dialogue excerpts – and that’s not a good thing for a character-driven reader like me.
Speaking of characters….
Yes, plural. Three – count ‘em, THREE (3) – “heroes” (and I use that word loosely) are at least one too many.
Love Interest #1: Eomond, the Large and Tawny Half-Viking Escort
He lasts about halfway through the book until the inevitable Big Misunderstanding that compels her to complete her journey to…
Love Interest #2: Rafael, the Enigmatic Betrothed
Unfortunately, he stays enigmatic even after Katrin arrives at his castle, because he’s suddenly sent off to…somewhere…, leaving her with…
Love Interest #3: Borovic, the Sinister Future Brother-In-Law
He’s the ultimate alpha male who decides he wants Katrin for himself – can Katrin resist his seductions???
Meh. By that time, I really didn’t care who she wound up with, because Katrin seemed like nothing more than a shallow prop. She wasn’t kick-ass, she wasn’t a doormat. She was just there, reacting to everything that happened around her, which made it very difficult to connect with her as the main character.
The storyline and storytelling also suffered from the “way too much” syndrome of the whole book. Between the three love interests and the Evil Uncle King and all the random “insert action sequence here” filler moments, the lack of cohesion and focus killed it for me by about halfway through.
I’m still wondering why I didn’t DNF this. It wasn’t horribly written and it wasn’t actively pissing me off, so I guess “distracted and bored” wasn’t enough of a reason to stop reading.
Fire, Heat and Light
Fire = 72 | Burn = 56 | Heat = 50 | Flame = 37 | Light = 33
Glitter = 28 | Flare = 15 | Ignite = 12 | Fiery = 5
- …mane lashing the air with black flame
- …stamped out like the flame of her love
- …even your defiance inflames me
- …swept across the battlefield like a dark flame
- …a moth drawn in tightening spirals toward his fatal flame
- …with his back to the fire, like Lucifer at the gates of Hell
- …an azure flame sparkling with silver
- …flaming with embarrassment
- …his touch igniting her
- …the dark embers of his gaze
- …vast reservoir of energy like banked fire
- …close enough to feel his banked fire licking at her skin
- …his frustrated desire beat at her like a forge-fire
- …with seeking heat
- …his heat licked her thigh
- …tendrils of heat coiled through her
Earth, Wind & Water
Wind = 53 |Water = 23 | Wake = 22 | Thunder = 21 | Ripple/rippling = 19
Sea = 17 | Current = 16 | Flood = 16 | Storm = 15
- …waded into the treacherous waters of deception, feeling her way as she would with her toes in a strong current.
- …made her wanton, planting it within her body like his seed
- …eyes met hers, dark and rich as the loam beneath her boots
- …drifting on a tide of pleasure
- …a scalding flood of embarrassment
- …drank him in like water
- …powerful currents moved beneath the surface
- …trembling with aftershock
- …the abyss that yawned before her
- …thundered down the quintain like an avalanche
- …With words alone he struck her, wielding suspicion and mockery like weapons
- …mounted warrior the size of a siege tower
- …monumental fellow towered over her like a war-engine
- …rose like a siege tower in the saddle
- …battalion of emotions assailed her
- …quivered like a drawn bow
- …a mounted Eomond, massive as a war engine
- …she’d flung words like catapault stones
Anthropomorphism & Reverse Anthropomorphism
- …A fierce hope soared within her, like one of his raptors arrowing high against the sun’s white heat.
- …stung by the bee of vanity
- …sinuous muscle rippling like serpents under tight-stretched skin
- …swift as a striking serpent he had her
- …reaching on tiptoe across the gap of suspicion
- …seized by the cold hand of dread
- …the watchful eyes of the night
- …pulsed with the lifeblood of power
- …frisson of awareness touched her like a finger
- God’s mercy/wounds/truth/own truth/grace/angels = 18
- For the love of God/God’s love/for God’s love/God in heaven = 9
- God be praised/praise God = 2
- Dear God/by God/God save me = 9
- Sweet Jesus/Jesus in Heaven = 13
- Christ’s Rood/by the Rood = 2
- Mary and/or Joseph = 11
- St. Catherine = 2
- St. Sebastian = 4
- St. Wilfrid = 7
- St. Cuthbert = 12
- For the love of Freyja/Freyja’s mercy = 3
- Thor’s hammer/bloody hammer/teeth = 8
- Odin’s pain/name/lost eye = 15
- By all the gods = 1
Weird & Wonderful
Dark = 99 | Spill = 40 | Surge = 30 | Dread = 27 | Pulse = 18 | Coil = 17
- Overhead, the clarion call of trumpets unrolled like silver scarves across the sky.
- His keen eyes were a searching beam that would surely penetrate her deceptions.
- Kissed by a man whose clear purpose was domination, laced with lacerated pride.
- She could hardly grasp what had just occurred, how her hasty plans, forged in cunning and despair, had skewed so wildly amiss.
- Rafael lived his life steeped in secrets, drinking them with his morning ale.
- Like the Red Sea before Moses, waves of startled fighters parted before him.
- The gatehouse disgorged an ebony courser that skimmed down the road toward them like oncoming night.
Hair = 113 (!!!) | Curls = 43 | Tangles/d = 28 | Tawny = 13 | Tendrils = 11
More Hair on Fire:
- …He stood with the lamp burning in his hand, light gleaming in his hair, a Prometheus blazing with divine fire
- …Proud and fearless as a lion, with your hair on fire from the sun
- …It flared and smoked, heat singeing her hair
- …his hair on fire in the torchlight, he raked the hall with his Viking gaze
- …coral nipples framed by her curling russet mane
- …their hair mingled gold and bronze on the pillow
- …in a tangle of bedclothes, her long hair wrapped around them
- …wrapping fingers in her hair to hold her
- …gripping handfuls of her hair as he drove against her
- …gripped her piled hair
- …pulled her against him and gripped her hair
- …laughed into her hair
- …whispered into her hair
- …murmured into her hair
- …groaned into her hair
Katrin (the heroine)
- …thick curling tendrils slithered aside
- …fiery hair tumbing over her shoulders
- …a tangle of fiery curls
- …tangle of firelit hair
- …fiery hair streamed around her
- …all color leached to her flaming hair
- …veil of flying hair
- …wind-tangled curls
- …tangle of wind-flung curls
- …hair still streamed, unbound and wind-tangled
- …wind flung her hair around her
- …skeins of her copper hair
- …skein of red-gold curls
- …rope of hair
- …wound the russet hair into a thick rope
- …hair spilling over her shoulder
- …tangled mass spilled down
- …hair streaming down in disarray
- …gathered her streaming hair
- ..stripped ribbons of hair from her braid
- …wet ribbons of hair
- …flying ribbon of hair
- …unraveled her hair to blow in burnished ribbons
- …burnished hair coiled at her nape
- …burnished hair coiled smooth beneath her fillet
- …burnished hair that spilled down her back
- …her burnished curls
Eomond (Love Interest #1 – The Viking)
- …mane of tawny hair (2)
- …tawny hair blazing with firelight
- …tawny hair flying
- …tawny hair tumbling forward
- …this beautiful long-limbed pagan with tawny hair
- …light gleaming in his hair, a Prometheus blazing with divine fire
- …firelight blazed in his red-gold hair
- …fire burning in his golden hair
- …his hair on fire in the torchlight
- …blond hair flying
- …streaming blond hair
- …golden hair falling into his eyes
- …raked a hand through his hair (2)
- …raked back his hair (2)
Rafael (Love Interest #2: The Unknown Betrothed):
- …twining fingers in his decadent raven curls
- …glittered in the dark curls framing his face
- …fickle breeze combed throug his dark curls
- …black hair falling in tangled curls
- …breeze ruffling his dark curls
- …framed by a tangle of wind-flung curls
Borovic (Love Interest #3: The Sinister Future Brother-In-Law):
- …wind tore his shaggy hair
- …wind riffling his shaggy hair
- …shaggy-haired bear of a man
- …shaggy hair streamed in the wind
- …exposing a shaggy head of sandbrown hair
- …wind stirring his shaggy hair
- …the curving shell of secrets nestled between her thighs
- …sheltered crevasse
- …petal-soft folds
- …the deep musk of passion
- …the sticky dampness of shared desires
- …her secret place
- …the searing blade of male arousal
- …her wet passage
- …he stroked that pulsing jewel
- …her exposed secrets
- …the small heated mouth were moisture gathered
- …reveled like Jezebel when he spread her wide
- …the blade of his desire nudged against her pulsing womb
- …liquid heat pooled at the cradle of her thighs
- …tendrils of sensation unfurling within
- …tendrils of pleasure shot through her
- …tendrils of desire coiled inward to her belly
- …smooth petals of her body warm with longing
- …her channel running slick with honey
- …womb still burning from the force of their shared passion