Quick rundown of the previous two chapters and prologue, because I did this rather out of order.
Prologue: Cnut was a shitty person when he was a Viking. Percheron horses did not exist during the Viking age. Horse breeds as we knew them did not exist in the Viking age. The Vikings pissed off God and the Archangel Michael was sent to wrangle seven Vikings representing each of the seven deadly sins to fight Lucipires.
Chapter 1: Andrea’s stepmom is racist. Her sister went to a ranch in Montana run by ISIS. Andrea is a chef, but it is also her responsibility to find her sister.
Chapter 2: There is a Reckoning every so often and all the Viking vampire angels have to meet with Michael, who really doesn’t like them. Cnut called someone a slut. I am not impressed. They live in a fake Dracula castle in Pennsylvania. I will never succeed in spelling Pennsylvania right on the first try. Ever.
Now a brief aside about chapter titles. I think the things I thought were epigraphs are actually the chapter titles, and the things I thought were chapter titles are weird menu-inspired epigraphs, because chapter three has no chapter title and has what I thought was an epigraph. I will reassess as we continue.
That is the capitalization and punctuation of what I thought was an epigraph but may be a chapter title. Do you all understand why I’m so confused?
Andrea has an appointment at Wings International Security (owned by Cnut, we discovered in chapter two), which is just down the street from where she works. She’s walked past it three times, even though she has an appointment. I think she’s probably missed her appointment by now.
“What kind of legitimate business had shaded windows? And a single metal desk and filing cabinet with two folding chairs?” Um, probably a fair few. Also, this is an international security agency. Do you expect them to have furniture from Harrods?
Oh, we got another bulleted list about why she doesn’t want to go inside the building. I’m not sure bulleted lists belong in a novel.
Oh Jesus Christ. No, that’s not emphatic enough. Oh Jesus Christ. Better.
“‘Oh hell!’ she muttered, and opened the door. Then she stopped dead in her tracks. ‘Holy freakin’ sex on a stick!’ she said in an undertone, before she had a chance to curb her tongue.
“Andrea was almost thirty years old, and while she wouldn’t describe herself as having been around the block, she’d had several relationships, three if you counted Pete the Perv. More important, she’d never been attracted to musclemen. But son of a biscotti!”
Son of a biscotti?!
So Cnut is hot. Blue, tapered, Oxford-collared dress shirt, untucked, black jeans, black athletic shoes. Mile long legs. Masterpiece of sculpted Nordic features.
First thing she does is ask him if he’s a Viking. He asks if she’s a doctor, because she’s wearing a chef jacket over skinny jeans and comfortable Crocs. Girl, don’t wear Crocs. Also, I don’t think doctors wear Crocs.
And she smells like coconut. A lot of coconut, even though she hasn’t been handling coconut. I’m thinking this is important. I bet Michael told him he’d meet his wife when she smelled like coconut, or something.
Andrea already wants to jump him, and she’s only just met him.
Oh my god.
So after she tells him who she is, because of course she booked the appointment using the name Andy instead of Andrea, he literally calls her “Sex on a fucking stick.” And Andrea has self-worth issues that will obviously be solved
on Cnut’s dick through love.
“She was embarrassed that he’d overheard her original assessment of him and that he was viewing her in the same sexist way she’d viewed him.” Now, let’s be clear. I don’t think “sex on a stick” is inherently sexist. Shallow and objectifying, maybe. But not inherently sexist.
And as long as we objectify equally, I’m all for objectification.
Burst out laughing in public moment two: “At that mere touch of palm against palm, she felt the oddest shock wave pass through her body, ripples of warm heat going to all her extremities, but mostly girl central.”
Oh, next paragraph jumps to Cnut’s point of view. “Cnut caught himself gaping at the woman as the oddest shock wave passed over his body, causing warm heat to slingshot to all his extremities, especially one particular extremity.”
(Aside: What is the POV of this book? Are we going to headhop or are we going to have two POVs? I just need to know.)
Lore update: “Thank God, the woman didn’t smell like lemons, too. That was a sure sign of a dreadful sinner, in need of a vangel intervention or on a fast track to Hell. Lucipires were lured by that scent, catnip to a demon soul.”
Oh, we got a pronunciation on Cnut’s name. Like a newt lizard. What is a newt lizard? I’ve heard of newts (thanks Matilda). Is a newt a newt lizard? Except newts are salamanders, so I’m very confused.
Quick rundown of their conversation: He thinks it’s a domestic dispute, and tries to decide what he’s having for lunch. Andrea cries a little, doesn’t explain what’s going on until he’s already decided not to take the case. She’d asked a good detective to find her sister already, but ISIS is apparently clearly involved in Montana. Now Cnut’s interested. Because Michael told him to take down ISIS.
“He could tell, even with the chef jacket hiding her assets, that Andrea Stewart was one of those skinny women with no breasts to speak of. Probably anorexic.”
Can we stop making eating disorders a joke, please?
So Celie (Cecelia) sent a video to her father during which she asked for $50,000, then burst into tears and said “help me, I can’t get away” and the people yelled at her in Arabic and yanked her out of the picture, then the video ended. I’m assuming that even the branch of ISIS that decided a ranch in Montana was a good place to set up has access to basic video editing software and could have ended the video after Celie said the money was for a good cause.
Chapter 4: A Chef’s Nighttime Snack (and not a Philly cheesesteak in sight)
Is Philadelphia actually obsessed with Philly cheesesteaks? I’ve never been there.
This nighttime snack is a legit meal. Ginger chai tea with orange blossom honey, Belgian chocolate-dipped madelines, Peking duck slices with pomegranate hoisin sauce wrapped in mandarin pancakes, warm beet salad, artichokes with mustard aioli, saffron-scented [what?] jasmine rice, fruit in orange curd tart, boutique honey beer
Epigraph, or possibly chapter title with previous title being the epigraph: He was a jar. No kidding! A jar!…
Andrea’s pajamas are leopard print, low-riding nylon harem pants with a matching cropped tank top. Hands raised, who wears matching pajamas to bed if you’re not showing off for someone?
Andrea’s parents are still going on a cruise, even though they think Celie was captured by ISIS. But they won’t go to the FBI, because if her father’s clients found out, they would leave. Because clients are more important than your daughter. I hope the ship sinks.
She was going to watch Game of Thrones on Netflix, which… how long have we been able to watch Game of Thrones on Netflix? This is the second most egregious error in this book so far. The worst being the Percheron horse, naturally. But this is a close second. Also tied with the portrayal of Vikings as bloodthirsty monsters.
But apparently Cnut had invited himself in and he was sitting on her couch with his feet on “her precious coffee table”—girl, it’s just a coffee table—reading a food magazine. He… magicked himself inside? We will return to this shortly.
Vampire update: These vampires do not need to be invited inside.
…He also just claimed mayhap is an Old Norse word. Friend, it’s an Old English word from “it may happen.” So it’s Old Norse in the sense that… it’s not.
He is clearly stating he’s a Viking, so… that’s an okay thing to tell people? Or does he just expect her not to believe him?
“When he homed in on her leopard-print harem PJs and made a rumbling, big cat sound—a deep masculine purr that acted like a tuning fork to instantly humming hormones” what. He… purred? I have never once experienced a human being purring unless they’re pretending to be a cat. Which happens more frequently in my life than one would expect.
Apparently the ranch is, in fact, run by people who funnel troubled teens and adults into ISIS. I guess if I was to try to pick a place where people aren’t likely to guess ISIS, Montana would be a good pick. It’s outside Bozeman, which is a good place for a ranch, I suppose.
He’s slipped up twice now—I’m not counting the two times he’s insisted he’s a Viking—referring to his teeth as fangs and his employees as vangels (he got “vang—” out). How have you survived this long telling everybody you meet that you’re a Viking and that you have fangs? Also, Andrea still smells like vanilla and coconut.
She also thinks she’s going to infiltrate this ISIS ranch. I love my family deeply, but if I found somebody willing to infiltrate for me, I would be sitting back in my apartment and fretting while waiting for news. Ain’t no way I’m infiltrating anything.
“Men like him were attracted to Sports Illustrated swimsuit model types, not skinny nerdy girls with a white thumb.” White thumb? What’s a white thumb? Is it a chef reference? Googling did not tell me anything. And I want to point out that the way a person looks doesn’t necessarily correlate with the type of people they’re attracted to.
Andrea went on a trail ride and had blisters for a month. Riding a horse isn’t that painful. It’s your muscles that are gonna hurt. I mean, maybe she was using an English saddle and things are different, but I’ve never gotten blisters riding Western. I’ve been plenty sore. I’ve been bruised from falling off. But I’ve never gotten blisters. The portrayal of horses in this book is offensive. More offensive than anything else I’ve encountered. Except for the racism. But ignoring that, because racism is the peak of the awful pyramid, the portrayal of horses is awful.
Jesus Christ, she was fanning herself while she was talking to him. Andrea, you need some chill.
She literally just said “holy cannoli” which is the second food pun from her in two chapters. She not only needs chill, she must be stopped.
This is the third time he’s told her he was a Viking. “In the Norselands? Where the hell was that? Somewhere in Pennsylvania, near Transylvania?” Andrea, did you go to school? Norselands sounds very Norwegian to me. Scandinavian. Am I especially conscious of this because I am very Scandinavian? Is that what this is?
Sinful/sinfully tally is now up to two.
Andrea is insisting she go with him. He is saying no. I’m assuming, because I’m on chapter four, that she goes with him. We haven’t even teletransported yet.
So, uh. That’s it. Guys, I expected this to be funny. I didn’t expect food puns, a complete lack of horse knowledge, and the female protag to be an actual idiot.
I’m gonna need some help getting through this.