FESTIVE ROMANCE: Mrs. Claus and the Viking Ship by Laura Strickland

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Scottish chief’s daughter Tinnie MacAieth can think of only one way to ransom her clan’s folk, defeated by the fierce Viking, Claus — agree to his demand that she become his bride. She hopes the faith she holds to and the love she has for her people will give strength to endure a lonely, loveless future in the cold north.

Claus has claimed Tinnie for his wife, but the prize he truly wants is her heart. Determined to win it, he offers her many gifts, but not until he undertakes a dangerous winter voyage for her sake does he dare hope. And on one magical Christmas Eve, while delivering toys by sleigh to her clan’s children, he begins to believe she may grant him the one gift he desires…

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Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, November 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Scotland & Netherlands, 850 AD
Genre: Medieval Historical Romance/Christmas
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 4.5 Stars

Review by Vikki

What a wonderful short story! I always enjoy medieval romances, especially ones set at a time that is less frequently written about, and this fits both categories.

Tinnie MacAieth has to make a terrible choice. Either she must marry the Viking warrior Claus Henjelssen, or allow her late father’s people to be taken away as slaves or killed. In spite of her mother’s protestations, Tinnie agrees to wed the fierce Norseman if he promises to do no harm to her mother and their people. She leaves hearth and home and travels to Jarlsgrell, the land of the Viking warrior.

Claus is nothing like the barbarian she expected.

He refuses to take an unwilling bride, and Tinnie is definitely unwilling, even though she does not push him away. Wanting more than a frigid woman for a wife, he sets out to woo her with a great many gifts, even going so far as to have a chapel built for her. After several weeks weeks, he comes to her as he does every night, but this time, while she tells him she can never be willing, she is ready to do her duty and fulfil her part of their bargain.

As the Yuletide season approaches, Claus asks her what she wants. He desperately wants her love as he has fallen in love with her. She asks him, “Tell me about these Yuletide celebrations—will there be food? And songs and trinkets for your people’s bairns?”

“I have told you, there will.”

“If you would please me, then give gifts not to me but to them.”

She is speaking of her people’s children. That she wants them to have the food and trinkets that will help them survive the harsh winter. At great peril to him and his men, Claus agrees to go to Scotland with the gifts. This starts the great journey, and the path to her heart.

I truly enjoyed this sweet tale of a man willing to go to great lengths to win the heart of his lady. Tinnie asks much of Claus, but he is more than willing to give it. This is a very romantic love story. I fell in love with Claus and the courageous young girl willing to sacrifice herself for the good of her people from the first page .

This is also a story of the birth of the legend of Father Christmas, and it is told with a masterful touch. I am amazed that such a short story tells such a rich and fulfilling tale, and that the characterisation has such depth. Ms. Strickland is an excellent storyteller, and her writing is smooth and flowing, unfolding a complete story, a fulfilling beginning, middle and a great HEA. Her pacing is excellent, keeping me reading until the end in one sitting.

Mrs Claus and the Viking Ship is an absolute gem of a short story.

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