SHE'S TESTING HIS RESOLVE!
Warrior Viking Ragnar Olafsson stood by as his best friend claimed the woman he desired the most. There was only one way to quench the deep darkness within himbecome merciless in battle.
When Elena is taken captive, fearless Ragnar risks everything to save her. Now they are stranded with only each other for company. Suddenly every longing, every look, every touch is forbidden. Elena could tempt a saintand sinner Ragnar knows he won't be able to hold out for long!
Resist them if you can!
About the Author
RITA ® Award Finalist and Kindle bestselling author Michelle Willingham has written over thirty historical romances, novellas, and short stories. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband and children. When she's not writing, Michelle enjoys reading, baking, and avoiding exercise at all costs. Visit her website at: www.michellewillingham.com.
Read an Excerpt
There was nothing worse than being in love with your best friend's wife.
Ragnar Olafsson tightened his fists over the oars, pulling hard against the waves of the sea. He shouldn't have gone with them to eire. But when Styr had asked him to come, he'd agreed in a weak moment. Though he'd buried all traces of his obsession with Elena, the idea of never seeing her again was worse than the torment of seeing her with her husband.
Never once had he let either of them know of his fascination. No one knew of the raw frustration gnawing within him when he watched Styr take the woman he loved into his hut. It was a dark torture, seeing them together.
And yet, he couldn't bring himself to let her go.
As he rowed, Ragnar kept his gaze fixed upon Elena. Her fair hair held glints of red, like touches of fire upon gold. She was like a beautiful goddess-he worshipped her from afar.
She considered him a friend, but nothing more than that. It wasn't surprising. A woman like Elena deserved a strong marriage to a high-born warrior. Her match with Styr had been arranged years ago and Ragnar wasn't the sort of man to steal a woman away from a friend. Especially not his best friend.
She'd made her choice and Styr had done everything to make her happy. For that reason, Ragnar had stepped aside.
He'd tried to find another woman over the years. Although he was a strong fighter and several maidens had cast their eyes on him, none of them compared to Elena. Perhaps no one ever would.
He studied her as she stared off at the grey waters. Something had changed in the past few months. She and Styr were hardly speaking to one another any more. Her barrenness was eating away at her spirit, drowning her in misery. When she stared out at the sea, her face was unnaturally pale. There were no words to mend the broken pieces, nothing Ragnar could say to her.
As the boat neared the shore, the waters were shallower than they'd guessed.
'We'll stop here,' Styr ordered. Glancing at the others, he moved to stand beside Ragnar. For a moment, his friend stared out at the shoreline. 'Will you stay behind with Elena?' he asked. 'I don't want her near the front, if there's danger.'
'I'll keep her safe.' He would bathe his sword in the blood of any enemy who dared to threaten Elena. Though she didn't belong to him, she was his to guard. He wouldn't hesitate to offer his life, if it meant saving her.
Styr rested a hand upon Ragnar's shoulder. With a dark sigh, he admitted, 'I am glad you came with us. A journey like this could only be endured with friends.'
'None of the men has slept in three days,' Ragnar agreed. 'We all need a good meal and rest.' Their vessel had been tossed upon the waves as if the gods had wanted to claim them as a sacrifice. They'd fought the hard winds, trying to battle the storm. And they'd won, at the cost of sleep. His body and mind were so strung out, he could hardly piece together any thoughts other than the desire to collapse upon the sand.
'A pity you haven't a woman to warm your bed,' Styr added with a shrug.
Ragnar sent him a wry look. 'The last I heard, there are women in ire. I might find one yet.'
He'd had a few women over the years, but none of them compared to her. Though he'd tried, time and again, to purge Elena from his mind, there were many nights when he awakened, covered with sweat. .his shaft hard with visions of the woman he loved.
By the blood of Thor, he had to stop thinking of it. Elena belonged to Styr and there was never any hope that it would change. Once she quickened with her husband's seed, she would find her happiness. Ragnar tightened his hand upon his sword and reached for a shield to distract his mind.
Styr took his own shield, adding, 'I'm glad you're here. I need strong fighters among my men.' To emphasise his point, he lightly punched Ragnar's upper arm.
Ragnar responded by seizing Styr's wrist and holding it fast. 'I've bested you a time or two.'
'Because I allowed it.' But his friend sent him a dark smile. Styr was like a brother to him. He had taught him how to fight, after Ragnar's father had neglected to do so. They had trained together in secret, until Ragnar could wield a sword as well as him. In truth, Ragnar was the better fighter, but Styr would never admit it.
Ragnar said quietly, 'I'll always guard your back.' And so he would. Despite his traitorous feelings, he would never betray his greatest friend.
After dropping their anchor, they waded through the waist-high water. Elena remained on board the ship, as if uncertain whether or not to approach.
'You can stay on the ship if you want,' Ragnar told her. 'We'll see if it's safe.'
She appeared troubled but shook her head. 'No, I want to go with the others. Perhaps if they see me, they won't think you're attacking.'
Her reasoning made sense, for invaders rarely had a woman among them. But still, he intended to keep her behind the others.
Ragnar helped her down, trying not to let his hands linger upon her slender form. She wore a cream-coloured gown with a softer rose apron, pinned at the shoulders with golden brooches. Her hair was in tight braids, pinned to her head, and she winced as she made her way through the frigid water.
'We'll build a fire for you, soon enough,' he promised.
Ahead, Styr had his battleaxe firmly in his grasp and all of them studied the settlement. It was unnaturally silent, which set Ragnar on edge. The scent of outdoor fires lingered and he saw evidence of a tribe that had fled. A pot of liquid boiled, the steam rising in the cold air but there was no one to tend it. A length of cloth lay discarded on the ground, as if its owner had fled too quickly to take it.
'Stay back,' Ragnar warned Elena. As he trudged through the water, his vision seemed to blur, his footing growing less stable. The lack of sleep from the violent storms was starting to affect him. He pushed back against the spinning sensation, ignoring his body's demands for rest.
Something was wrong within the settlement. There were no people and no animals. With each step forwards, his mind dulled. He couldn't seem to grasp a clear thought and, when he blinked, the world seemed to tip on edge. Ragnar took a moment to steady himself, claiming a deep breath. He would not allow exhaustion to overcome his strength.
When he glimpsed movement, he turned back to Elena. 'You should return to the boat,' he commanded. 'Stay there until we know what's happening.' He didn't want her caught in a battle if the Irish misunderstood their reasons for coming here.
She shook her head. 'If I stay there alone, I'm unprotected.' Ragnar started to argue, but she insisted, 'I'm not going back. I'll stay here, at the water's edge, but I need to be on land.'
'Behind me, then,' he acceded. Before they could venture another step, he stopped to look at her. Her sea-green eyes held him captive, her skin as pale as milk. So many nights he'd dreamed of sinking his hands into her fiery hair, claiming her soft lips in a kiss.
'Is something wrong?' she asked, her face flushed at his stare. It was as if she could read his forbidden thoughts.
Ragnar focused on the sand ahead. 'No. Nothing at all.' He scanned the ringfort for movement. In the distance, he spied shadows moving behind one of the huts. The silence was unnerving, as if they were the prey of some unknown attacker. They continued walking through the water until they stood upon dry land.
Ragnar moved several steps towards the shadows, gripping his shield in his left hand, a short sword in the other. More than ever, he was starting to believe that Elena should have stayed on the ship. She remained behind him, on the edge of the sand. Waves washed around her ankles, while she waited with her hands gripped together.
'Stay back,' he warned. 'Call out if you see anything.' She nodded and Ragnar hesitated. Instinct warned him not to leave her.and yet he wasn't about to risk endangering her from an unseen attacker. 'Will you be all right?'
'Yes.' But her voice held no confidence at all. She reached to her belt and gripped the hilt of a dagger.
Ragnar moved cautiously towards the shadows, while the others followed Styr. Their gait was heavy, as if the weight of the past few days remained upon their shoulders. All could fight, if necessary, but fatigue had set in.
He kept walking, his mind focused upon any threat, when suddenly, he heard Elena's scream cut through the stillness. He spun, raising his sword and found her surrounded by four men.
By the gods, where had they come from? Like ghosts, they'd emerged from the mist that surrounded her.
A dark violence awakened within him. The blood rage pushed away the exhaustion and he raced back to Elena, his sword in hand. He lunged at one of the young men, only to have his sword blocked by a shield. Renewed energy coursed through his veins as he fought with all of his strength. Two men attacked him and he used his shield to deflect a blow, slashing his sword down with his right hand.
He let the battle madness sweep over him, releasing the rage inside. When metal clashed against wood, he slid into the familiar fighting. Everything else faded away except the primal need to protect her.
Another enemy crept up behind him and he saw the wild look in Elena's eyes. He didn't care that he was outnumbered. He would not let anyone harm her-not while he had breath in his body. With a crushing blow, he used his shield to knock down the third man, slashing a savage blow to the other.
One of the men grabbed Elena from behind, twisting her wrist until her dagger fell to the sand. He dragged her backwards and Ragnar fought with all his strength to break free of the Irishmen.
But he didn't know if he'd reach her in time.
Blood thundered in his veins as Ragnar released a battle cry. He cut through the men surrounding him, his blade slashing towards his enemy. Dimly, he was aware of Styr charging forwards as well.
Two men tried to cut them off, but he and Styr divided their enemies. When his attacker struck out, Ragnar threw himself to the sand, rolling free while a sword sliced the place where his head had been.
More of the Irish charged forwards and while he continued to fight, Ragnar saw a young man seize Elena, holding a blade to her throat. There was desperation in the young man's eyes, of a captor who had never killed before. That made him even more dangerous.
With a renewed surge of aggression, Ragnar pushed his way free, just as Styr raced towards his wife. Before Styr could tear Elena's captor apart, everything changed.
Another woman emerged, shouting at both of them. In her hands, she held a thick staff as her weapon.
Ragnar ignored her, all of his attention focused on Elena. The young man was distracted, giving him an opening to free her. He inched his way closer, waiting for the right moment.
For an instant, the young man faltered, as if considering whether to let Elena go. He seemed to recognise that if he did, Styr would split his head open with the axe.
But Ragnar could attack from behind, catching the young man unawares. If he struck true, he could free Elena before anyone knew what had happened.
He lifted his sword, prepared to strike. Before he could move, the woman brought her wooden staff across Styr's head, catching him on the ear. His friend dropped to the ground.
Thor's blood. Ragnar didn't think, but lunged, just as another man raised his blade for the kill.
'Styr!' Elena cried out in anguish, just as Ragnar blocked the blow. She was reaching towards her fallen husband, while the other woman was speaking foreign words that sounded like an apology.
The young man dragged Elena back, stepping towards the water. Deeper he moved, until she was submerged to her waist. He could drown her if he tried.
Ragnar shouted to the others, knowing that all of them were needed to protect Elena and Styr. His friends kept their weapons drawn, their shields at the ready as they approached. Upon the sand, he saw the dark-haired woman binding Styr's wrists and ankles with long strips of leather. An older man helped her drag him away.
'Ragnar,' Elena pleaded. 'Save him.' Her voice was barely above a whisper, her sea-green eyes holding her fear of death.
He was torn between saving his best friend and saving Elena. Gods help him, this was a decision he'd never wanted to make.
'What should we do?' his friend Onund asked.
In the end, there was only one choice. He had to save the woman he loved, even at the cost of the man who was like a brother.
'If anything happens to her, Styr will hold us all to blame.' Ragnar raised his sword and shield and started towards the water.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Enjoyed this book and would recommend if your reading interest is Viking romance. I also read "To Sin with a Viking" and Willingham's Viking characters are different from others I have read which make her books interesting and very readable.
The long wait is over and the second book is finally here!!! This author, who is definately one of my favorites and one whose books I simply reach for when I see her name, I don't even read the description of the book, her name says it all for me. The events in this book overlaps with the first so you will want to read the first before you read this one. The heroine is taken captive and the warrior who has loved her from a distance must rescue her. They become stranded together and feelings between the two run amuck. She, thinking she is trapped in her situation, and he, thinking he will never have a chance for his love, find their way through it all and learn that happiness is possible. This book, like the first, is not your normal run of the mill romance. However this book, as well as the first, shows the authors talent as everything flows and the reader can't help but root for the characters. The sensational sexy tension between the two leaps from the pages and envelopes the reader within the chemistry leaping from the pages. This author's talent is clearly defined as she touches on taboo subjects at this time period. The book is a page turner and gradually grabs the reader then doesn't let them go. I would recommend reading "To Sin With A Viking" first and then follow with this sequel. You will never be disappointed with this author, in my opinion. The heroine is testing his resolve. Warrior Viking Ragnar Olafsson stood by as his best friend claimed the woman he desired the most. There was only one way to quench the deep darkness within him—become merciless in battle. When Elena is taken captive, fearless Ragnar risks everything to save her. Now they are stranded with only each other for company. Suddenly every longing, every look, every touch is forbidden. Elena could tempt a saint—and sinner Ragnar knows he won't be able to hold out for long! Forbidden Vikings Resist them if you can!
Rating: 3.5 This was my first time reading a book by this author, and I enjoyed it. I am not a history buff, so I have no idea how accurate the characters and the scenarios were, but I really liked that the prose was understandable and clear. I have read a similar historical romance before but trying to pronounce the words written in a heavy accent was rather tedious. No problem here. I liked Ragnar and Elena in this story. Although I usually prefer more assertive heroines, I do believe her (at times annoying) characterization was accurate for women from that time. Their marriages were arranged, and they weren't meant to do much else than create a family. That was the crux of her problem. Elena's greatest wish was to conceive a child, but after five years of trying, she hadn't been successful. The sadness and disappointment naturally put a strain on her marriage. Before they could work on fixing it, they were separated. Over the course of a week, give or take, Elena and Ragnar faced many dangers together, both physical and emotional. While Elena seemed to be all over the place emotionally, Ragnar was focused on ignoring his fantasies and setting aside his forbidden attraction. He was a man of honor, and for the most part he kept to his word not to sully his best friend's wife. What I liked was the balance of action versus romance. There were sword fights, Elena proved herself quite capable under duress, and when they talked, Ragnar always seemed to be open and honest about his feelings while trying to remain honorable. There were quite a few moments that sounded repetitive, especially from Elena. I think the story could have done with fewer mentions of how badly she wanted a child, how she had pushed Styr away, or how comfortable she had always been around Ragnar (because she had him placed in the friend zone). The sex scenes didn't happen until near the end, but what was there was really hot. After the reunion there was a lot of emotional drama in this triangle. Elena finally found something to take her mind off her barrenness, Ragnar felt more conflicted than ever, and Styr seemed to extricate himself from the situation rather easily. I know some readers had an issue with what they saw as infidelity in this story. Usually I stay away from such plots in romance, but this worked for me. There was no sexual intercourse between the hero and heroine, but there was definitely emotional infidelity. Aside from Elena holding out hope that her husband was alive and he'd come for her, the reader had no way of knowing whether Styr was alive or not, and neither did the characters. Once I finished the story, I checked on the first book in the series which turns out to be Styr's story, or perhaps more appropriately, this book from his POV. Considering that I connected with Elena over her issues, I don't feel the need to go back and read his side of the story. I felt he could have acted less cold towards the woman who was his wife for five years and a friend for even longer. I do think this book can stand on its own. In the end, I was happy and satisfied with the outcome for all involved, and I would read more from this author. Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. The views and opinions expressed in this review are my own, and in no way represent the views or opinions of the publisher/distributor.
Imagine you have found the one person that could be the love of your life, your soulmate, and the one you truly could not live without. That is the way Ragnar Olafsson has felt about Elena since he was a young man. Life is against him and she is betrothed and married to his best friend Styr. Flashbacks through the story give you an idea what this couple has gone through in their lives. When Eleana is captured Ragnar watches over her. He sees she is protected and safe. Elena finds that she admaires this warrior for his courage, thoughtfulness, and caring. Twists of fate help this couple as Elena takes her life and matters into her own hands. You will enjoy Elena and Ragnar in To Tempt a Viking. Another winner Michelle Willingham! I couldn't put this one down. Gail Adams
I've been waiting for this book from the minute I finished To Sin With A Viking (Styr and Caragh's story), where we first meet Elena and Ragnar. I was curious to see how MW would spin the tale of a wife(Elena) falling for a man (Ragnar) who is not her husband (Styr) while her husband is still alive! Well, she spun it quite well!! Right from the beginning you can feel Ragnar's aching love for Elena. With her being married to his best friend she is definitely OFF LIMITS. Elena's angst is just as bad. The feelings and the desire which she feels for Ragnar are completely different from those she feels for her husband. I like how MW doesn't drag out the marriage until the end of the book so that Elena and Ragnar can build a relationship. I can't think of anything in the book I didn't like. There was plenty of action, whether it was a ship being attacked, being attacked by raiders or Ragnar just plain kicking some heiney to make money. 'Bad guys' that weren't over the top (just enough nastiness to be believe able!) and the love scenes are quite....hot. The only thing that I would have liked to see was some closure between Styr & Caragh and Elena & Ragnar. Only because of the close friendship between Ragnar and Styr, it felt like they never saw one another again after everyone gets their happily ever after. But that's just me, I like everyone to have a happy ending. This book can be read as a stand alone but is much better, in my opinion, if you read to Sin With A Viking first.Oh, one other thing. I don't know if you usually read the Author's Note in the beginning of the books you read, but if you read this one the epilogue is even more special for some reason.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** To Tempt A Viking by Michelle Willingham Book Two of the Forbidden Vikings series Publisher: Harlequin Publication Date: January 21, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): She’s Testing His Resolve! Warrior Viking Ragnar Olafsson stood by as his best friend claimed the woman he desired the most. There was only one way to quench the deep darkness within him—become merciless in battle. When Elena is taken captive, fearless Ragnar risks everything to save her. Now they are stranded with only each other for company. Suddenly every longing, every look, every touch is forbidden. Elena could tempt a saint—and sinner Ragnar knows he won’t be able to hold out for long! What I Liked: After reading To Sin With A Viking, I knew I could not wait to read the companion sequel novel! Yes, it featured Elena, and I was not a huge fan of her in the first book. BUT, it featured Elena, meaning that she would get her own happy ending! That was something I wanted to read. Ragnar Olafsson has been in love with his best friend's wife since the three of them were kids, and no one was promised to each other yet. But he has never acted on his feelings or desires, nor will he ever do so, while Styr and Elena are married. Elena has always cared for Ragnar as a friend, as she has seen him through his worst as a young boy and young man, especially with the unique death of his father. This book parallels with book one. Meaning, the events of book one overlap with the events of book two. This book starts with the capture of Elena and the other men by Caragh's brother Brendan, but the end of book one (Styr leaving for Caragh) occurs about halfway through this book. The other half of this book is spent on Ragnar and Elena, and their broken relationship. Elena is no longer married to Styr, but that doesn't mean that she can just climb into Ragnar's bed. Ragnar will not allow that, because he has his own demons to face. Ragnar has a twisted sense of self-worth, and doesn't believe that he deserve Elena. Nor does he believe that she could be safe from him. I loved seeing the romance between Ragnar and Elena progress. There was always something there, but the time alone, the need for each other, Styr's departure, Elena's desire for children... everything just came together. The chemistry between these two sizzles, but neither can actually act upon their desires until way past Styr and Elena's divorce. I liked how Willingham resolved the child issue. Elena is barren, and believes that she will never have children, because she never had a child or got pregnant for Styr. Well, Willingham created the prefect solution for Elena (and Ragnar) - doubly, if I may say so. I saw one of them coming, but not quite the entire scenario. Very cool! Overall, I really liked this companion sequel novel. I really, really liked Ragnar, and while I didn't like Elena in the first book, I came to understand her in this book, and even like her. It was fascinating to see how the stories overlapped and intersected - it made things much more intriguing! This book is definitely worth the read. What I Did Not Like: I thought the first quarter of the book was a bit slow. I sort of powered through it, and by powered through I mean skim, sort of. Once I got past it, things started to get, um, interesting, between Ragnar and Elena, which helped me keep reading. Not that I was ever in danger of NOT finishing this book. This book was too good for me to even consider that notion. Would I Recommend It: If you read and liked the first book, DEFINITELY follow up by reading this book. I thought I would hate reading Elena's story, because I thought she wasn't particularly pleasant in the first book of this series, but when you see her side of things, everything makes sense. I'm really glad I read this book. I recommend both books, for historical romance fans! Rating: 4 stars. Definitely an interesting and enjoyable companion novel! I wonder if Willingham has any more Forbidden Vikings books up her sleeve.
I really liked the first book to this series, so I was expecting a lot from the companion novel. And, it definitely met my expectations! To Tempt a Viking was a fantastic historical romance that I really enjoyed. I really liked this book. This book starts off in the same place that book 1 started and shows what happened to Ragnar and Elena while Styr was captured. Then, about 1/3 of the way through, it catches up and starts on Elena's story, right after she divorced Styr. And, of course, after getting divorced, she needed a little comfort. And Ragnar just so happens to be there... Elena was a good heroine. She had her own quiet brand of strength that helped her get through everything. She was kind and likable and I thought she was great. Ragnar was amazing. He was so sweet and a truly good and honorable man. Trouble is, he doesn't believe that. After doing something he considered unforgivable, he lived with the belief that he carried a darkness in himself that made him a danger to those around him. And, unfortunately, that made him reluctant to admit to and act on his feelings. But, I thought he was wonderful. He was sweet and devoted to his loved ones. I adored him. The romance was great. Elena and Ragnar were very sweet together, especially with how they had held feelings for each other (more so on Ragnar's side) but couldn't act on them until now. That also led to some steamy moments that were super hot. These two were a lovely couple. The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. I thought this was a perfect companion story that gave the other unhappily married person a chance at a happy ending. I really enjoyed the story and I thought the ending was great, with a happily ever after for both couples. To Tempt a Viking was a wonderful historical romance. I really enjoyed reading it. For those who liked the first book in this series, you won't be disappointed with how things turn out. And, romance lovers in general, this is a book worth checking out. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
This Viking series by Michelle is one of my favorites. I love the characters. I liked Styr and Carragh from her previous book and this one continues on from that story. Elena is a mess. She loves her husband Styr but after 5 years being married she kind of goes over the edge because all she wants is a child of her own. She becomes Little Suzy Homemaker and cleans continually. Poor Styr can't figure her out. He's a Viking who can't sail the seas because of her. Then he has to leave or fight to be the Jarl of his town. So they both sail away and are attacked by Danes. Ragnor is Styr's friend and loves her from afar. She jumps ship and he follows her. This book tells how they fight to do what they all think is the right thing. There are a few twists to the tale. I needed a few tissues and wanted to bop someone on the head a few times. This can be a stand alone story so don't pass it over. Give it a read. It's quite and will get you hooked on Michelle's other books.
Ragnar and Elena are the perfect pair. When Ragnar saves Elena they are set on a jonurney that will forever change thier lives. Elena is married to Ragnars best friend Styr. But Styr and Elena are not in love and only remain married out of Duty. When Elena Declares herself Divorced things heat up between her and Ragnar who has loved her since the day he meet her. This Story was a great Read and I can not wait for more from Michelle Willingham.
I am glad that Ragnar and Elena finally got together. I got a little irritated with Ragnar because he wanted Elena and was able to have her, but he waffled back and forth because (I think) he was insecure. He suffered as a child and, as we all do, he let it color his future.