Kidnapped by a mysterious warrior, she's swept away to a hidden island paradise filled with pleasures…and secrets. Abducted from a trade fair, Lady Avril de Varennes awakens on Asgard Island, an enchanted paradise cloaked in mists and mystery, kept secret from the world for centuries. Against her will, Avril weds her arrogant captor, Hauk Valbrand - even as she vows to escape. Hauk believes himself beyond the reach of love, until his fiery captive bride begins to melt his heart of ice. But soon he must reveal the stunning truth about Asgard and its people - and Hauk and Avril must choose between love and honor, duty and desire…now and forever.
©2012 Shelly Thacker Meinhardt (P)2014 Shelly Thacker Meinhardt
"With its richly drawn characters, powerful conflict and vividly imagined setting, His Captive Bride is a romantic fantasy lover's dream. When it comes to sweeping, sizzling historical romance, Shelly Thacker is a shining star!" (New York Times best-selling author Lara Adrian)
"Five hearts (highest rating). An involving, beautiful story. I thought about the characters often at work, at the grocery store--wherever I was until I could get back to the book. A definite keeper." (TheRomanceReader.com)
"Powerful. From the very first page you're whisked away to a world where anything is possible." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
HIS CAPTIVE BRIDE by Shelly Thacker is a wonderfully erotic historical novel featuring SEXY Vikings. an idyllic island, heartbreaking romance, danger, intrigue, adventure and action. It's the third book in Shelly's Stolen Brides series, but each one is a standalone with no interconnected characters so they do not need to be read in order.
The story and the characters drew me in from the beginning. Our heroine, Lady Avril de Varennes, is a widow with a three year old daughter, Gisele. Years after her husband's untimely death, Avril is still mourning his death. She is preparing to attend another friend's wedding being held a few days' journey away in Antwerp.
Leaving her daughter in the care of her brother-in-law and his wife and, promising to be back soon, Avril sets out on her trip. Arriving early, she and her companion enjoy a full day of shopping until her friend is stolen right in front of Avril. As Avril defends her friend, she finds that her own life is in danger.
We are introduced to Hauk Valbrand, our hero, a handsome Viking warrior, at the helm of his ship heading to Antwerp. Every thirty years, as is their established tradition, the unattached men of his isle who desire a bride, embark on a six-day journey to capture a bride. Hawk, himself, is not seeking a bride. He is making the journey only to supervise the wife-seekers and to ensure that all goes well. His gallantry, though, interferes and in saving a woman from certain death, he saddles himself with a bride. Poor Hauk. Now he not only has a very reluctant wife, but she is also stubbornly adamant that she must return home to her daughter. What Avril doesn't know is that Asgard is an uncharted island like no other, sheltering untold mysteries, shrouded in mist and hidden from the world.
The chemistry between Avril and Hauk is erotic and electric. I appreciate that Shelly's characters in this whole series do not find instant love, but they all experience a slow romantic progression that I absolutely inhaled.
Any of the books in this fantastic series, of course. Going back in time, I would compare three books by Kathleen Woodiwiss to this series: The Flame and The Flower, Shanna AND The Wolf and the Dove. Each of the Woodiwiss books I mentioned, involve a captive of sorts and a doomed love.
I have become a huge fan of Julia Motyka's narration. After hearing her narration in HIS FORBIDDEN TOUCH, the second book in this series, I was excited to listen to her again and she did not disappoint. IF you like to be sedately read to, you should find a different audible. Julia is a performer, not just a reader, and I find myself hanging on to her every word. She inserts pauses and changes her voice exactly as is needed. I can't imagine any other narrator with these books. I plan to seek out other audios that Julia has narrated as I enjoy her style of narration so much.
I thought the following was a novel and brilliant idea that any parent would appreciate to help their child cope with a parent being gone for short periods. Avril has baked ten sweet rolls for Gisele and instructed her to eat one each day. When Gisele has finished the last treat, she will know that her mother should be back home with her.
As a teaser, here are just a couple of my favorite quotes from this book.
“At least reindeer kisses do not cause me to take leave of my senses.”
“Would a dead man touch you like this?”
Shelly's writing, as always, is exceptional. Her words flow effortlessly and her plots are well defined. Her characters are well-drawn and realistic even when combined with the fantasy elements within this book.
HIS CAPTIVE BRIDE combines historical romance with Viking lore and elements of fantasy to render a story that I didn't want to ever end. The ending, while highly satisfying, came too soon. I highly recommend every one of the books in this series as PERFECT escape reads.
Now, I must find Asgard and these Vikings that need women... I want a HAUK for my own! Take me to Asgard please!
My full review has been posted to Reading Between the Wines Book Club. Check it out there!
Julia is tremendous as a story teller. The oral tradition is endemic in my country of Trinidad and Tobago. Also, I grew up in an era of listening to radio serials with no television. Julia is so evocative of the various nuances of the many characters and she brings them to life. I enjoy listening to her rendering of the various voices as she narrates, she pulls you in to the book.
Hauk was my favourite. Strong personality, yet gentle and tender, caring for his 'captive bride' He is revealed gradually as a loving and romantic character and I loved how he watched over Avril keeping her safe and standing up for her at the appropriate time.
As the story progresses with much adventure, danger, and so many secrets, Hauk's heart is drawn to Avril's and ultimately she begins to respond to his love and care and her heart opens to him, even though still planning her escape to go to her daughter.
Yes I have have listened to other narrations by Julia and I am a fan. She is just fantastic at story telling. Favorably compares with other performances by her.
At first, I felt that the story may have ended too abruptly. . . . but then again this is fantasy. On reflection, having read the whole story and re-reading parts leading up to the ending, noting the building of Avril and Hauk's relationship and the tenderness and love generated, I realized that you don't need to have it all revealed as you can fantasize and create your own endings to this romantic excursion into fantasy land. In your own mind, an exciting life for Hauk, Avril, and Giselle is guaranteed. Lovely, lovely!
Great work Shelly, keep it up.
I didn't think anything could beat reading a great novel. Audiobooks proved me wrong. I've become an audiobook junkie!
I'm a longtime Shelly Thacker fan, and couldn't be happier to see her riveting stories coming out in audio. I love her knack for delivering sigh-inducing romance and breath-stealing action. Julia Motyka was the perfect narrator. Her performance added to the emotional impact of an already great story.
We read to know, we are not alone ~ C.S. Lewis
We all know how important first impressions are: to me they instantly set my attitude and mood for the rest of any encounter, be it a person, place or thing. While my first introduction to this author/narrator combination was more than rough, I had hopes that the second time around would be better. It was, marginally.
While I expected another in the line of a more historical feeling romance, this story held a feel that leaned to fantasy, with elements that were historically referential, but I never did quite shake that feel. All of the stories in the series refer to a tested by trial love match: where the brides are either captive or blindsided into a marriage, and the emotions and connection grow in time. A rather interesting premise if you are able to get over the ick factor in the power imbalance, but no more shocking to a historical romance fanatic than the lack of women’s power and position in the stories we love.
In this book we have Avril – captured by Hauk and brought to Asgaard, a remote Viking island that seems to hold residents in a sort of thrall. Viking lore combines with some undefined as to era historical elements that allow the relationship between the two to progress as they familiarize themselves with one another and their emotional connection does feel believable and possible. There is an epic struggle for Hauk and Avril to free themselves from the mysterious grasp of the island, and they show a solid connection that begs readers to follow along. Characters are fairly well developed, and their voices and actions feel correct as they progress through the story.
But, again we run into the stumbling block that is the narration from Julia Motyka. The introduction was more of what I had experienced in the other title: overly dramaticized delivery with pauses added for effect that only served to annoy and distract. Her delivery is erratic, with emphasis placed every 3rd to 5th word throughout the first few chapters. Imagine it as this: “he went TO the market and bought A pig for (pause) dinner.” After an hour of that – you are ready to call it a day. Fortunately that overreaching delivery did lessen as the story went on, while she never dissolved to monotone, the less emphatic delivery was characterized with unnecessary pauses added for effect, with several mispronunciations and almost falters that seemed to be reason for the pauses. I wanted better. I hoped that her style was affected for the style of the first narration that I reviewed, but I am not sure exactly what her style or plan is in presentation, and honestly am no longer intrigued enough to investigate.
I think that readers who are looking for a fantasy/historic story would enjoy this title in print form. I cannot say the same for the narrated version.
I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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