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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Freya’s Gift by Corrina Lawson

Freya’s Gift by Corrina Lawson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (69 pgs)
Other: M/F, M/F/M, M/M, Ménage, Anal Play, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Saving her people could mean losing her man.

In the months since an unexplained sickness wiped out most of their women, Sif and Ragnor have managed to hold their people together. Yet nothing can overcome the tribe’s overwhelming grief, and their future as leaders—and as a couple—is at a dangerous crossroads.

A series of sensual omens convinces Sif that a fertility ritual to honor the goddess, Freya, is the only path to healing, but it requires a sacrifice. One Sif is more than willing to make—but puts Ragnor’s heart in the middle of an emotional tug of war. He would give his life for his people, but share Sif’s body with his greatest rival? The goddess asks too much.

Refuse, and Ragnor will fail his duty and doom the tribe to violent destruction from within. Accept, and their trust could be rewarded with renewal for their people and themselves. Or shatter a love already stretched to the breaking point.

Mix ancient Vikings with Native American lore and a tale unfolds of love and survival in harsh yet hopeful times.

This tale opens with a tribe recovering from an illness that decimated their tribe. So much so that the Indian tribe they intermarried with banned them as ill omens. Separated and alone they struggle to survive the harsh environment with wife and husband, Sif and Ragnor, as their leaders.

I can’t imagine what a woman’s feelings would be like under that kind of strain. The situation is dire as there are few women left because the virus killed mostly the females of the tribe. And Sif hasn’t born any children yet so she has a double whammy against her. How can she be an inspiration to the women who are left when she can’t even do what the tribe would expect of a chieftain’s woman? Add to that the worry and fear that her marriage may not survive the strain. What to do? Sif seems to be a woman of inner strength but it’s coming close to being tapped out. How far is she willing to go to make necessary changes? For the love she has for her husband and people to survive means she has to be open to some very different ideas. And I do mean ‘open’.

Ragnor is her estranged husband. He has fallen into worker mode because I guess it was the only way to stay sane. His character is pretty much what I’d expect of ancient man and Viking. The guy is supposed to be strong in body and spirit but he’s pretty battered too. He does the manly thing and goes hunting and something happens that makes him realize the goddess Freya may have a plan to help his tribe and he’s going to be involved somehow. His faith from the Viking days will hold him in good stead but it sure doesn’t mean he has to like it. He’s got a volatile relationship with his belief in the fertility goddess and the author made Ragnor’s feelings crystal clear.

Sif gets an eyeful that ends up being a premonition of what Freya needs her to do. That was an interesting scene and quite hot. I like the fact that the woman holds the power in this story. She’s the one that epitomizes rebirth, nurturing and hope and like the soil that needs to be open and tilled for a planted seed to take root, so too does Sif. She also needs to convince her husband the wisdom of her ways. The author did a fine job of showing how the characters respected each other, loved each other and even though what has to be done will be hard on them, they are people of integrity and honor and won’t turn their back on something they would never have dreamed of doing in a thousand years because it is for the greater good. However, I think Sif gets the best part of the bargain and I thought that was pretty cool.

There are mystical elements - both Viking and Native American - woven throughout this story. From food to rituals, clothing and living conditions, they all come together to form a unique community. From the sense I get in this story, they’ve been away from the Norselands for quite awhile and that’s why there is more Indian influence than Viking. It took me a bit to feel comfortable with the dynamics.

I have to say, Freya’s Gift is an interesting tale which focused on a marriage between two strong individuals who were close to breaking due to tragic circumstances. It gave a reader a good sense of their pain and fears and their worries that all hope might be lost. It was at times tender, passionate, suspenseful and magical. The happily ever after only comes about with Gerhard’s assistance. He was a rival now turned instrument to the healing. The mystical showed up at the end to let me know in what way the tribe will be saved and it was a very emotional and poetic touch. I enjoyed the story and the fact that not only was it well written but it was respectful of its characters. The dialogue kept the information flowing and the descriptives of the water was sort of fun. This is not a light and fluffy read but a tale told with heart and I’d recommend it. It’s well worth taking the time.

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