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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beautiful Viking by Steve Sampson

Beautiful Viking by Steve Sampson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (286 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox

Eric Folke wakes after a night of heavy drinking and looks reality straight in the eye. He's been hiding his true self behind unhappiness, anger, and a girlfriend he doesn't want—and it has to stop. Making a critical decision, he attends a dance, trying to face his true feelings rather than hide them. There he meets Nick Bertolli, a fabulously beautiful man filled with an ocean of love he needs to share, love that will help Eric heal and grow.

As Eric accepts what is in his heart, he and Nick will face several obstacles on the road to happiness. Eric's ex-girlfriend, Nick's abusive former partner, and a terrible act of violence will test them, but their affection and desire for one another will never falter. Of one thing they can be sure: they will always love one another.

Beautiful Viking has a tenderness and sincerity shining from it, which makes it difficult to put down. Part coming out story, part romance, the story conveys emotions with the force of conviction of the true romantic’s heart. I wanted things to work out for Eric and Nick; I shared in their joys and fears. The unfolding of their love for each other was truly lovely to watch.

That said, this is one of those stories that could have been molded into something perfect with relentless editing. Too many repetitions of phrasing, too many bland adjectives, and too many explanations of things in dialogue that people would never say caused far too many distractions for the reader. And lest I forget—there were entirely too many instances of the word ‘fuck’ appearing in one form or another, usually in dialogue. Now, I know some men say it ad nauseum, I hear enough of it in line at the grocery store, but in a novel, it becomes rather tiresome.

The plot takes some odd, twitchy turns as well, and could have used some judicious slicing and dicing. We start with one villain, who is dealt with and sort of fades off-screen, only to be confronted by another one later, who, again, doesn’t seem crucial to the plot. I had the feeling at times of meandering from one episode to another, as if this were a TV show, rather than following a cohesive dramatic arc.

I think the author has the right idea, and shows good instincts especially on an emotional level which served to keep me turning pages. I did love the characters and their interactions with the families and friends. With a bit of honing and polishing, I believe Mr. Sampson will become a force to be reckoned with.

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