Books to the Sky

Recap: Miranda’s Viking by Maggie Shayne

Posted on: July 19, 2008

After a very funny conversation about romance novels involving vikings, alexabex lent me this book, a category romance originally published by Harlequin Silhouette that, based on the book description, sounds kind of like Encino Man, only with a viking and less Pauly Shore. The back-of-the-book copy says it’s about a scientist who finds a frozen viking, only he’s still alive! And he’s all man, baby.

not a viking

not a viking

We open with Rolf. No, not that one. This one speaks random Norse words and has a beard. This Rolf, you see, is a viking. He’s on a ship during a storm and things are not going well; men are dying, sails are getting destroyed, and Rolf is mightily pissed at a woman named Adrianna, who predictably has flaming red hair and unusual gray eyes and is beautiful but kind of evil. Also, the booty he plundered keeps falling out of the boat. Rolf struggles and feels the storm defeating him. He vows not to die, and then he plunges into the cold water.

And that’s just the prologue! In chapter 1, we meet Miranda O’Shea and her father Russell, both scientists. Russell’s life’s work has been trying to find a mythical man frozen in ice, a man the Inuit thought was a god. If I’ve learned anything from movies involving archaeologists and similar scientists, it’s that no good can come from a life of such singular purpose. It’s likely Russell’s last expedition, too, since he’s old. In my head, he resembles Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, pursuing Frozen Man as if it were the Holy Grail, so I imagine his dialogue spoken in a swarthy Scottish accent. It’s amusing.

Anyway, we cut right to the chase, and Miranda cracks through a block of ice with a few well-placed strikes with a pick axe. She’s hit an air vacuum, and Russell knows this is it, what he’s worked his whole life to find. They lower themselves into the cave, and lo: there is a man laid out, long blond hair and bushy red beard and all of his clothes perfectly preserved. Now, okay. I’m not a scientist, but even with the air vacuum, he’s not a mummy. Would the clothes really survive? Or would they disintegrate now that they’ve been exposed to oxygen? Should I bother questioning this?

We all know where this is going, right? Oh, yeah. Viking popsicle.

Miranda is, of course, attracted to this hulk of a man and says aloud that he’s perfect. Thus she’s skeptical that he’s, you know, an actual viking, but Russell insists that this is a man known to history as the Plague of the North (something about vengeance and a feud with Knut the Great). He’s big: 6’7″, 250 lbs. Miranda doesn’t think they should take the specimen from his final resting place, which Russell thinks is weird. Miranda insists that it “doesn’t feel right” to be there. She and Russell argue and we learn that he really is Henry Jones, Sr., since he cares not for his daughter’s feelings, just for this man he’s been looking for his whole life. (Insert your own gay joke here.) They ultimately agree to get the viking TV dinner out of the cave, since they broke the seal and let in all the oxygen so he’ll get destroyed otherwise, and then Russell has chest pains and Miranda cries. Russell tells Miranda to buck up because no one will take a crying lady scientist seriously.

The frozen viking winds up in a lab in Maine in the basement of Russell and Miranda’s house. Miranda examines him and catches herself talking to him. Miranda thinks she’s wearing the crazypants. Oh, just wait, Miranda, just wait. Miranda starts the examination, and since his 900-year-old clothes miraculously haven’t started disintegrating yet, this involves untying things. She continues talking to him, confiding in him that he’s the one man she can’t scare away, but men usually find her “exceedingly unappealing.” She cuts off a piece of skin (ew) for radiocarbon dating, and then lists all of her bad traits for him. Way to get off on the right foot there, Miranda.

Miranda wakes up sometime later, having fallen asleep reading a paperback called Shadows of Love (ha!), and feels that there’s been a disturbance in the force. She goes off to look for her father, who she finds in the climate-controlled room where our instant viking is defrosting. (Spoiler!) Russell is unconscious on the floor and the lab has been ransacked. The intruder takes a swing at Miranda, but then he leaves. Miranda calls for help.

Miranda goes to the hospital. Her father had a massive heart attack and is in critical condition. He tells her to go back home to keep an eye on “the specimen” (read: our frostbitten viking). She insists that the monitors all read the same as always when she glanced at them as she was leaving. Russell insists she goes home, saying, “there’s something… you don’t know. About the specimen. I… my journal… it’s all there.”

Back at the ranch, Miranda goes to check on the viking sorbet and notices that the temperature control panel got knocked over in the scuffle, and the climate control room is now 98 degrees. Miranda checks on our frosty friend, and he’s still on the exam table, but a quick check of the monitors shows Miranda that there’s brain activity. Miranda, because she’s a scientist, assumes the monitors are wrong. But then Encino Viking gasps and it becomes apparent to Miranda that he’s suffocating, so she does mouth-to-mouth (…) and the viking starts breathing on his own. “You’re alive,” she tells him. “Valkyrie,” he responds as he touches her hair. Miranda explains that the Valkyries are the goddesses who greet great viking warriors when they get to Valhalla, so Miranda, knowing there’s no way he understands English, explains that she’s not a Valkyrie. She knows enough of his language to tell him her name is Miranda. He examines her for a minute before deciding she’s Adrianna. (Of course she resembles Adrianna.)

He attacks Miranda, but then he gets woozy, so she steers him back to the table. He doesn’t seem altogether convinced that Miranda is not Adrianna, but then he notices that he’s got electrodes taped to his head and starts to pull them off. Miranda takes over and does it for him. Then he gets all macho and rips the rest from his body to show the pain doesn’t bother him. Cute. She knows enough of his language to figure out that he’s confused about his whereabouts and that he’s thirsty.

So she gets him some water and teaches him the English words for glass and water, which he figures out with a remarkable quickness, but then I imagine typing out all those Norse words would get tiring, so he has to learn English fast so they can have conversations about all the hot sex they will have during the course of the novel. She puts together enough Norse words to ask his name, so he tells her he’s Rolf Magnusson. And then we have the obligatory scene where Rolf (seriously, I can’t get over the name) goes around the lab and tinkers with monitors and instruments because he’s never seen them before and is in awe. Miranda thinks he’s like a really big child.

He starts gulping water and, in an effort to make him slow down before he makes himself sick, she puts a hand on his rippling, hard stomach and they share an intense look. I roll my eyes a lot. Miranda decides she has to hide Rolf from the other scientists, and imagines this is a very romantic and not particularly scientific thing to do. Then Rolf manages to convey that he’s hungry. Miranda gets all, “Say my name, bitch!” on his ass before she’ll feed him, and he calls her Adrianna again.

The next chapter is from Rolf’s perspective, and he exposits right away that he doesn’t know what’s up with Adrianna speaking to him in this strange language, because she totally knows that he’s a master of languages and has been known to be able to master one in a single night of study. *facepalm* He’s convinced this red-haired woman is Adrianna, since she looks the same but everything about her is completely different. She seems troubled to him.

There are some hijinks in the kitchen in which he explores things and calls them by the wrong names. (He knows what pipes are but refers to cabinets as “wooden storage boxes.” And, after being frozen for 900 years, some water and a plate full of chicken make him feel as good as new. Riiight.)

Miranda teaches him English by pointing to objects and saying their names. Rolf thinks it’s a pretend language, but gamely plays along. She then figures out that Rolf will need normal-people clothes, so she calls her assistant Darryl and he agrees to buy some things.

Then it’s bath time. Miranda shaves him, figuring it will help disguise him. Free of the beard, he is, of course, superlatively handsome. Then she tells him to take a bath and starts undressing him. He’s all hard, rippling masculinity, as a good romance hero must be. When she gets to his pants, he calls her Adrianna again and then pulls her into his arms and “his mouth claimed hers with ferocity.” It’s a “brutal punishing kiss.” That’s the thing with romance kissing. It’s always so violent and possessive. He gets grabby and squeezes her butt. He loosens his grasp on her enough that she can pull away and slap him. Her blouse is ripped open, so he sees the birthmark on her breast, and then, finally, gets a fucking clue that maybe she’s not Adrianna.

Convinced Rolf was about to rape her, Miranda runs to her father’s study to get his gun. But then she reasons that she can’t kill the specimen.

Rolf bathes and thinks and feels bad about mauling Miranda. He goes to find her, and she’s got clothes for him. She has to explain what underwear is. Then she hands him jeans and an oxford shirt and he feels very privileged to have these gifts from her. Now he feels especially bad for getting grabby, so he goes back down to the lab, retrieves his coin purse, and gives it to her.

Miranda conveniently has a bunch of Old Norse/English dictionaries, so she brings them to Rolf, and he’s giddy. There’s some more about his aptitude for languages, and then his mind starts to wander as he tries to recall his last voyage. All he can put together is that Adrianna betrayed him by accusing him of a crime he didn’t commit so that she could spring her brother from jail. Then he journeyed off to prove his innocence, then he can’t remember anything. Miranda falls asleep beside him, so he decides he has to figure out where he is. He puts a bunch of books in a paper bag and straps his trusty sword (called “Vengeance”) to his waist, and he’s off.

Miranda wakes up and goes out looking and finds him on the beach. He’s figured out that he’s not in Kansas anymore. He asks her to explain, so she brings him back to the house and starts to. She gets out a globe and blah blah geography lesson blah. She asks what he was doing so far from home and he says he can’t remember. She says the Inuit who saw his ship go down thought he was a god, so they pulled him out of the water and put him in the cave where she found him. There’s some more questionable science as Miranda explains that people do not die until their brains die, so even though his heart stopped, he still lived. For 900 years. Yeah. Well, she doesn’t tell him how long he was frozen at first, and he’s still not completely convinced she’s not Adrianna, and wow is that getting tired. He thinks she used berry juice to make her birthmark and moves to look at it again, but Miranda’s faster and retrieves the gun (a Derringer, which even I know has only one shot) and blows a hole in the globe to show how dangerous it is. Rolf is shocked, and concludes that Miranda would rather him dead than touching her. He asks if she’s ever been with a man before, and she changes the subject by asking if he wants to know how many years he’s been on the ice. He does, but when she tells him, he can’t get his head around that much time and calls her a liar, accusing her of being Adrianna again. (Seriously. Are we over this yet?) He starts to put together that if so much time has passed, his family is dead, and Miranda is so sad for him that she starts to cry. Rolf says that Adrianna never cried, so Miranda must not be Adrianna. (Geez.) Miranda also explains that they have to keep the fact that he’s a defrosted viking from getting out because scientists will want to poke at him like he’s the mermaid in Splash.

They decide to go to the hospital to see Russell. They have to devise a trick to get around the police officers guarding the door, so Rolf climbs out a window then comes to the door as if he were a visitor. When he comes inside, he says, “Have you no kiss for your dear old friend?” I roll my eyes. She goes to give him a quick peck and he keeps her there, and there’s a lot of mouth invading and hard body feeling. After the officers leave, she yells at Rolf for kissing her, and he points out that she didn’t hit him or vomit that time. She says she only vomits when she’s assaulted. Oh, nice. Sexual trauma on top of everything else. He asks, “Have you had a man before me, lady?” She doesn’t answer the question and is mildly perturbed by the implication in “before me.”

They go to the hospital. While Rolf waits outside the room, Russell tells Miranda to follow the instructions in his journal, which she hasn’t even looked at yet. She’s all, “Yeah, no problem,” and he tells her he’s dying and insists she follow up with the journal since he’s convinced the viking they found is this viking the called the “Plague,” which he is. Then Russell starts flatlining and Miranda gets pulled out of the room.

Russell dies. I hope whatever’s in his journal is good, because otherwise he served no purpose besides to bring Miranda and Rolf together, which I suppose is working because Miranda collapses and Rolf gets to her in time to put his arms around her. She turns to jelly, and he gets kind of tingly. Passages told from Rolf’s perspective are kind of formal, like Shayne mistook formality for archaism. Anyway, Miranda seems to get some comfort from Rolf, then she takes his arm and they go out to the waiting room where a bunch of her colleagues are waiting. She introduces Rolf as her friend from Iceland. Darryl the Assistant, who moved the body, is there, and yeah, Rolf doesn’t have the big bushy beard anymore, but… not even a little suspicious that this dude from Iceland just shows up? Really? Argh, book.

Also in the waiting room is an angry guy named Jeff who works for a cryogenics lab. He suggests they move “the find” to his lab, which Miranda strenuously objects to, at which point it’s revealed that Russell made arrangements for Jeff to get in on the find in exchange for funding. Miranda is horrified, and Rolf observes that she has the same fear in her eyes while looking at Jeff that she did when Rolf kissed her at bath time.

Ah, of course. Bad guys are so often named Jeff.

Jeff calls Miranda “Randi” which gets her gander up, but Rolf holds her back so she doesn’t hit him. He pulls her aside to talk to her, and he speaks really formally, too, which is just stupid because he’s been studying modern American English not Shakespearean English. He should speak in the vernacular. There’s at least more comic potential if he misuses contemporary idioms, you know? Anyway, Rolf reminds Miranda that they’re arguing over a find that’s standing right there looking at her, and she forgot, if you can believe it. I’ll give her a pass because her father just died, but HULLO? What have you just spent the last 60 pages fretting about?

One of the other scientists says that they should get started with studying the specimen right away. I feel like there’s an easy joke here about how Miranda’s already started “studying the specimen,” but maybe that’s premature. She’s still got another 150 pages or so to “study the specimen,” if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Everybody goes back to the house. I can’t get over that there’s a cryogenics lab in the basement, but, you know, whatever, questioning the realism of this book is giving me a headache. Miranda and Rolf talk in the car about the players involved. Rolf is some kind of super genius, so he’s figured out that Miranda and Jeff have bad history, that this guy Fletcher and Miranda are BFF, and that Darryl knows Rolf is not just a friend from Iceland.

They have a funny conversation (intentionally funny, even) about crying. Rolf asks Miranda why she won’t let herself cry and she says she prefers to do it in private, as he must, too, since he just found out his whole family is dead. He says he’s a man and a warrior and big boys don’t cry. When she tells him that men also feel emotion, he tells her she’s a liar. Heh.

Everyone beats Miranda and Rolf back to the house. When they get there, they notice that the house had been broken into and the cops that had been standing guard have been shot. The scientists all go to the lab, and “the find” is gone. The scientists flip. But now, hold on a minute. Who would steal 250 pounds of frozen viking? And how? This is so stupid.

Darryl has an asthma attack, so Rolf escorts him out of the room. Darryl is all, “I know who you are,” and Rolf tells him that he has to choose to be a friend or foe. Darryl chooses friend (I mean… 250 pounds of viking, it’s not really a choice) on the condition that Rolf doesn’t harm Miranda. Rolf’s like, “Yeah, duh.”

The cops arrive, and it’s revealed that not only is the find gone, but also Rolf’s sword (Vengeance!) and all of the files on the find. Jeff is really pissy, accusing Miranda of moving everything to another facility, even though we just established a couple of pages ago that the only other facility is the one where Jeff works. (So, to review: 2 cryogenics labs in small town Maine, one in a large facility, one in Miranda’s basement. That’s plausible.) Jeff openly insults Miranda, which earns him a punch in the face from Rolf. Awesome. Almost as good as a Todd Punch.

There’s arguing, the cops acquit Miranda of all guilt, blah blah. The only relevant bit is that Miranda thinks the people at Jeff’s cryogenics lab are hacks. This seems like a lot of hullaballoo. I don’t see why Miranda doesn’t just go, “O hai he woke up!” and be done with it. But why do things the easy way when you can do them the hard way.

Everyone leaves but Darryl, who goes all science nerd on Rolf and tries to explain how it’s possible but the science is still questionable to me. (I did edit chemistry and biology for a living for a while. I’m not completely clueless.) Miranda goes to the study to make some phone calls and Darryl and Rolf chat. Darryl volunteers what we’ve all already figured out, which is that Jeff and Miranda used to be engaged. No one knows why they broke up (I have some guesses; it’s not really subtext if it’s obvious, right?) but Miranda hasn’t dated at all since the engagement ended. Rolf explains that Adrianna used her looks for personal gain, and Darryl says Miranda’s the opposite, that she seems oblivious to the fact that she’s attractive, but she walks with such self-confidence because she knows she’s a good scientist.

Darryl finally leaves, and Rolf explains to Miranda that when a warrior dies, they have a feast to remember him by. She makes them some sandwiches. They get to talking. Rolf asks about Jeff and Miranda asks about Adrianna, and they both shout a lot and piss each other off and Miranda storms out.

Rolf has a nightmare that night and wakes up in time to remember his last voyage, which Miranda had assumed involved rape and pillaging, but which was really just looting. Still, he feels ashamed because it was his anger at Adrianna that made him do it. He had looted enough goods that it weighed the ship down, and he figures that his current predicament is Thor’s punishment, because if he’d had less stuff on the ship, it might not have sank.

Miranda can’t sleep and remembers in the middle of the night that her father’s dying words had been a plea to read his journal. So she finally does, and he’s made a bunch of notes about the Plague of the North. The Plague was well-respected and thought very wise, but then all of a sudden, he brutally murdered someone and was exiled, kind of went berserk, and disappeared. There’s a note in the journal that leads Miranda to a computer file (via DOS prompt; ah, 1994). Russell wrote that he thought the account of the murder unlikely given Rolf’s sterling reputation beforehand and the fact that the only witness was the daughter of one of the nobles who had Knut’s replacement installed. Said replacement did not pardon Rolf, which Russell found suspicious.

Rolf shows up and reads over her shoulder. Their conversation basically boils down to Rolf managing to extract from her that she’s not afraid of him because he might be “a murderer, a plunderer, and a rapist” in his words. She’s afraid of him because he’s a man, and she doesn’t like men. (“You… prefer women?” Rolf asks. Hee.) She clarifies that she doesn’t like to be touched and she doesn’t like sex. Rolf then tells her that he has to leave because pride won’t let him let a woman take care of him and blah blah “not of your time” blah, but Miranda tells him to stay, insisting that she needs him.

Alas, it’s not what you think. She intends to finish the book her father was writing, and needs to know where the loot was buried and where Rolf’s ship went down so that she can get the evidence she needs to back up Russell’s theories. He agrees to help in exchange for a kiss. He reasons that he has to kiss her to make sure she’s really not afraid of him. So she agrees, and he kisses her very gently (and also gets a hard on, the narrator makes sure to tell us, but Miranda doesn’t notice) and she’s not afraid. In fact, she kind of wants to kiss him again, but she doesn’t. He’s all, “I told you so” and calls her beautiful.

Miranda holds Rolf’s hand all the way through Russell’s funeral, and she keeps it together until they get to the car, then she starts to sob. He puts his arms around her to comfort her, then he kisses her, and all is well until they start really making out, at which time Miranda freaks and gets out of the car. Rolf thinks she’s being a tease and gets pissed because he can’t see what the rest of us do. She tells him it’s not him, he tells her she’s a liar and threatens to leave. They get distracted by an airplane, and the scene ends. Ugh.

Two days later and Rolf hasn’t left, but he’s been treating her coldly. She seems to want to tell him her big bad secret but hasn’t yet. They meet with one of the scientists (Saunders) to get equipment, and Miranda posits that whoever broke into the house was after information on the lost loot, not the body of the Ice Man. (That’s how the scientists have been referring to Rolf. Creative, no?)

They get what they need by going around the university administration and ultimately wind up on a boat owned by Jeff’s company. While on board, Miranda tries to talk to Rolf and explain, gives him an “it’s not you, it’s me” speech, but she won’t tell him the whole truth, so he’s still mad. She, in turn, has figured out that he’s not guilty of the crime he was accused of, and tries to get him to tell her what happened, but he’s still mad and says she’ll just believe what she wants anyway.

You know, Rolf and Miranda definitely have chemistry, but the whole premise of this book is just so absurd. I haven’t decided yet if the absurdity cancels out the sexual tension.

So Miranda’s friend Fletch(er) gets on board, and he tells Rolf that he’s worried all the radio silence means that whoever’s after the loot can easily claim credit for it, because there’d be no proof it’s Miranda’s expedition. Rolf tells Fletch he’s grateful for his help, and Fletch is sure to emphasize that his interest in Miranda is purely platonic. “Why think you I care?” Rolf asks. “You’re kidding, right?” is Travis’s response. Heh. Romance heroes are always the last ones to know they’re in love.

Later, Rolf’s gazing at the ocean when she overhears Jeff and Miranda fighting. He finds them, and Jeff has Miranda pushed against the railing, and she’s bending over backwards (literally) to get away from him, but he kisses her, then Rolf hauls him off and ROLF PUNCH!! Awesome. Rolf can’t figure out why Miranda didn’t fight Jeff off (not like it’s obvious or anything) so he hauls her to his cabin and makes her talk. Miranda weakly explains that she doesn’t think Rolf will actually harm her, but she’s very afraid of Jeff. Rolf doesn’t understand why, since Rolf is the murdering barbarian and Jeff is a civilized man of the current era. Miranda says every era has its barbarians. I mean, you can practically here the audience going “Boo! Hiss!” whenever Jeff shows up. It’s clear who the bad guy is here. Rolf says he’ll kill Jeff if Jeff touches Miranda again.

Rolf manages to get Miranda to confess that when she and Jeff (the only man she’s ever been with) were engaged, they slept together but she never had an orgasm. Oh, geez. She faked orgasms until she was tired of faking and told Jeff, and he didn’t take it well. Miranda won’t say anything more. Rolf tries to pursue it, but gives up, then tells Miranda she’ll stay with him that night. She’s reluctant, but he swears he just means to protect her, that he’ll watch over her but not touch her. She says she trusts him.

So, she gets into the bed and he starts to settle in on the floor. She tells him he doesn’t have to, and he basically tells her that if he shares a bed with her, he won’t be able to control himself. She can’t get over that he actually desires her, but insists that she trusts him not to do anything if she told him not to. He tells her that he knows she has desires, too, and that his larger concern is that she wouldn’t say no once they got started.

Miranda blames herself for the problems with Jeff, but finds Rolf’s statement startling, so she basically dares him to kiss her. Uh, short version here is that he stays clothed while she’s naked, and I’m listening to Phil Collins, right? “In the Air Tonight.” You know the part when the drums kick in? Yeah. That part starts right when I’m reading about Miranda’s first orgasm. It’s kind of awesome. She decides that now that she’s all acquainted with the power of sex that she wants him to make love to her, so they totally do it. Unfortunately, there aren’t any silly euphemisms. And I couldn’t help but notice that no condoms are involved which makes me think a) there are bound to be viking babies in the epilogue, and b) it might have been funny to see her explain to Rolf about condoms.

Although… now I’m kind of wondering what being frozen for 900 years does for one’s fertility. I’m clearly overthinking this.

The next morning, Rolf decides that he doesn’t just want Miranda’s body, but her heart, too. He worries, though, that now that he’s shown Miranda that sex is awesome, she’s going to want to go do it with everyone on the boat. You know, this kind of manufactured conflict — one character making an assumption about the other without, you know, actually talking about it — is a romance novel pet peeve of mine. Bah, this book only has 60 pages left. I’ll get through it.

They go further north and Rolf finds the spot where his boat got swallowed. He’s, like, super extra traumatized by the memory of going down and by his insane jealousy of every man on the boat. They do some technological magic and find the boat. Miranda makes a point of observing that 959 years have passed — would Rolf’s boat have really survived that long? And here I go, questioning the science again. Someday, I will stop doing that. Everyone gets all huggy with Miranda, which doesn’t help Rolf’s jealousy problem much. Fletch tells him the hugging is not a big deal. Rolf sort of calls her a slut and Fletch threatens to beat him up. Then Fletch figures out what’s actually going on and assures Rolf that none of the hugging means anything, that the men are all hugging each other, too. Then Miranda comes over and Fletch skedaddles. Rolf tries to convince himself that he has to get out of the relationship with Miranda now before he gets hurt, and Miranda assumes his distress is over having to revisit the spot where his ship went down.

Miranda wants to take Rolf ashore to show him the cave where they found him, but Jeff (Boo! Hiss!) and Saunders insist on going, too. She ditches them once they get to land and takes Rolf to the cave. She launches into a speech about how she’s pretty sure she was meant to find him while he quietly freaks out. Then there’s an explosion.

It’s looking like Miranda and Rolf will be buried alive, but it turns out the cave is where Rolf had hidden all the plunder from his pillaging days, so there’s a secret room below the area where Rolf’s body had been. Miranda and Rolf go there. They find the treasure room, where anything that was wood or weak metal has rusted or decayed. Oh, sure. Rolf’s clothes were preserved for 900+ years, but this stuff decays? *facepalm* Miranda suspects Jeff is responsible for the explosion because he needs to take credit for the discovery of Rolf’s ship in order to restore his scientific reputation. That’s kind of a lame motive. I’d buy it more readily if he were just after fame and fortune.

The only way out is of the cave is a small tunnel. Miranda has a full-blown panic attack, because in addition to everything else, she’s also afraid of cramped spaces. When she insists she’d rather stay behind and die than go through the tunnel, Rolf asks her why, so now we get the big non-confession, because we already know what happened: when she told Jeff she’d been faking orgasms and couldn’t marry him, he raped her in the front seat of a compact car. Is anyone surprised? Rolf knows he’s going to have to kill Jeff now. To comfort her, Rolf pulls her into his arms and tells her a story of how his aunt got raped and then killed herself, so he vowed never to force a woman and never has. Miranda says, “Why do men do it?” and Rolf tells her men don’t, just cowards. He repeats to her what we already know, which is that he went on a rampage after he was exiled, but the men under his command were forbidden from raping and murdering (looting was okay, though, hence the treasure room). Then he tells her he’d cut off his own fingers before he’d let any harm come to her, and thus manages to convince her to climb through the tunnel.

Miranda panics some more and Rolf wonders why she never pressed charges against Jeff (vikings are naive about the psychology of abuse, I guess) but they manage to get through the tunnels and to the site where the excavation crew had set up camp, though the camp looks abandoned. Rolf gets her into a tent. She explains about being afraid of her rapist, and he feels such overwhelming love for her that he chides himself for talking himself into letting her go before. She tries to confess her love for him, but he tells her to stay put in the tent while he goes to dispatch the villains. She, however, insists on going with him to make sure Fletch and Saunders are okay, since they are surely Jeff’s next victims. They find a little rowboat and paddle out to their ship.

They get on board and intend to go after Jeff, but they find Saunders instead, who also thought they were dead and says that the authorities have been notified. Then he actually says, “I’ve learned of the entire plot. It’s all very involved.” It’s like I don’t even have to recap! Rolf figures out immediately that Jeff is already dead, killed by his partner. Saunders tries to finger Fletch, but he’s a terrible villain, because Miranda and Rolf figure it out within a paragraph and get him to admit “the partner” tossed Fletch overboard. It’s too late to act, though, because Saunders put sedatives in their drinks, and he gets away as they’re falling asleep.

Actually, it turns out that Miranda’s an idiot because when they come to, Rolf has to explain what happened. They’re back on the little row boat, floating in the middle of the ocean. Rolf says they need power, so he constructs a sail with two oars and a blanket. He’s crafty.

So they sail around until nightfall, at which time they have to stop for a bit. Miranda tells him to put his arms around her for warmth, so he does, and she tells him that she’s not afraid, she’s actually enjoying the adventure. Ever since crawling through the tunnel, she’s felt like a different person. He says, “When once a man conquers his strongest foe and yearns to repeat the battle, this is the mark of a true hero.” He’s in awe of her courage.

He asks her to take over manning the sail so he can rest his arms, and as she does, he tells her she’s not just steering the boat, she is the boat. Then there’s a really sappy paragraph about how sailing makes him feel like one with nature, and making love to Miranda made him feel like he was one with her. Blah blah true love blah. So, even though they have to pay attention to the sail, he starts making out with her.

So, okay, he’s sitting behind her while she’s controlling the sail. Some clothes are shed, and every time I think I can picture this business they’re in, some sentence throws me. He lifts her up so she’s sitting in his lap (neither is wearing pants, so you can guess what’s going on) then, “He lifted his hips until her entire body was supported only by his manhood.” Unlikely, right? BJ on a horse unlikely. That’s some powerful manhood. Whatever, they do a kind of modified reverse-cowgirl right there in the middle of the boat and when it’s over, Miranda informs Rolf that she’s in love with him. He doesn’t believe her and tells her it’s just circumstance. She just shrugs and says she won’t convince him so she’ll work on him more later.

And then Rolf loses all appeal for me as he thinks to himself that she’d never sacrifice her career for him, and he won’t settle for anything else. (I mean, where does he get these archaic notions? It’s almost like he’s from the past or something.)

The next day, Rolf assures her they’ll find land before dark, and they do, winding up on an island inhabited by Inuit. They get ashore, and then Miranda passes out. The Inuit bring them to a hospital, and Miranda gets treated for exposure. While there, Rolf explains what happened with Jeff and Saunders and the murder plot to a cop, who is a little skeptical. (It does sound completely ludicrous in Rolf’s weirdly archaic English.)

Miranda wakes up and Rolf tells her Saunders has scheduled a press conference, but the cops are onto him. Then Fletch comes in and there’s happy reunion time. She asks how she got to the hospital, and Rolf explains that they got there via “one of your bird-ships,” and that they’re in New Foundland. Travis kind of eyes them, and tells them he knows Rolf is the Ice Man. I hope there’s volleyball.

The three of them go to Saunders’ press conference, where Saunders is solemnly telling all assembled how he just had to shoot Jeff after he killed Fletch, Miranda, and Rolf. Miranda’s all, “Oh, yeah?” Saunders gets arrested.

When we rejoin our heroes, it’s three days later, and both have a pile of job offers. They talk and decide they’d be bored teaching, plus Rolf has the added complication of, you know, not having a work visa. Some professor from the university comes to the door and badgers Miranda about the job offer they made her, and she turns it down, saying she wants to finish Russell’s book and prove that Leif Ericksson traveled to Maine (much further south than previously thought, but she’s got proof, because Rolf was there with him). The professor is appalled that Miranda would deign freelance, and she says that she insists because she has to work with Rolf. Rolf is all, “Woah, lady, I don’t want to get in the way of the career,” and she says, “I love my work, but it’s only a shadow compared to the way I love you.” The prof is all, “Uh… I’ll come back later.” Rolf chastises her for her sacrifice, but she explains that she’s just trying to find away that she can have everything she wants. Then she asks him to marry her. He’s all, “What is this crazy backwards land I’ve come to live in where women propose to men,” and she just shrugs because she has to keep her feminist cred since she gave up her job to be with him.

And then he kisses her! The end! I’d swoon if I weren’t so busy rolling my eyes.

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5 Responses to "Recap: Miranda’s Viking by Maggie Shayne"

NICE! My favorite part was the odd supported-by-manhood sex. Because ow.

I kinda liked Encino Man :(. Brendan Fraser cracked me up.

BTW the picture made me LOL.

Not a Viking… OR THE PERFECT VIKING?? You decide.

I love the Splash reference. And I, too, must admit to liking Encino Man. I actually saw it when it came out in theaters. My dad took me.
Someday I will get my hands on The Very Virile Viking to recap! (Uh…totally not how it sounds…)

[…] by making their heroes alpha-ier. (?) The bigger, brawnier, and pushier the better. (See also, Rolf.) […]

[…] it might be more awesome than some classics I’ve read (involving time-traveling heiresses and freeze-dried vikings). This one is full of “sex so terrible that even the idea of my parents’ coupling is […]

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