I feel like royal stories are becoming a dime or dozen these days (thanks, Harry and Meghan) but when they're as well told and as engrossing as Karina Halle's are, I don't mind one bit. A Nordic King is Halle's latest book in a sort-of-but-not-really-at-all series she's been writing about Scandinavian princes and kings. The new book (just published today) is all about King Aksel, who we met briefly in her two previous books, The Swedish Prince (review here) and The Wild Heir (review here). The books have been getting better and better (to me, personally) and this last one totally swept me off my feet.
Here's the synopsis:
When I first applied for the job I thought it would be like all the others: working as a nanny for an aristocratic family.
Then I got the job and found out how wrong I was.
Now I’m the new nanny for two adorable little girls who happen to be princesses.
Their father is the widowed King of Denmark.
And my new home? The royal palace in Copenhagen.
Adjusting to my new life isn't easy but the hardest part hasn’t been the girls who still grieve over the loss of their mother.
It’s their father.
Cold, mysterious and moody, with an icy stare that seems to penetrate your soul, King Aksel may have hired me to take care of his daughters but he wants as little to do with me as possible.
Yet the longer I share these palace walls with this man, the more that I’m drawn to him. His chiseled face and sexual swagger are only part of the package. It’s in the long, intense glances at the dinner table, the way we’ll brush up against each other in the halls, the rare glimpses of the man deep inside, like the sun passing through clouds.
But no matter how I feel about him, we can never be together.
You think it's bad enough being in love with your boss?
Try falling in love with a king.
I hadn't realized I have a problem with romances involving a couple with one person in a position of power over the other. That is, until I read a really, really good one. Obviously King Aksel has all of the power in this novel. Not just over Aurora but over the whole of Denmark. But he doesn't use that power for evil (sorry, lapsing into fairy tale speak here). Sure, he and Aurora joke about it in the bedroom but they're doing so in a safe space. Plus, Halle makes it extremely clear that Aurora wouldn't put up with any of that nonsense - and Aksel knows that. A strong heroine makes all the difference (plus having a man who's, you know, not an asshole. Though she does call him King Asshole on occasion!).
On a personal note, I loved that Aurora was Australian. I've been to that marvelous country twice (her hometown, Windorah, is just a mere 14 hour drive from where I stayed) and I love when contemporary stories feature Aussie characters.
As I mentioned, this is the third book in Halle's royal sort-of series. You can read any of these books in any order. Trust me! Aksel only flits through the first two and readers of those books likely got the same first impression Aurora did - that Aksel was unhappy, cold, stand-offish, grieving. But unlike Viktor and Magnus, the princes featured in the other books, Aurora actually tries to figure out what makes Aksel tick and she truly wants to help the family, Aksel and his two adorable daughters, heal after their loss. (To be fair to the princes, they had their own issues to deal with that didn't involve figuring out what was happening with the king in a neighbouring country.) Even though this isn't a series, you'll probably still want to read the other two for a great dose of royals and romance.
Halle's books are always super emotional and will always deliver a few gut punches and heartbreaks. But there's always a Happily Ever After waiting at the end and it's never cheesy. Her books are real (even with the whole "falling in love with a royal" thing) and that means there are highs (lots of laughs and sexy times) and lows (lies and sorrow). She strikes such a good balance and I know when I dive into her books I'll be feeling all the feels. I can't think of another author who does that so well.
I experienced a major book hangover when I finished Karina Halle's A Nordic King. The story - and characters - burrowed right into my heart and soul and I fell in love with it. I can't wait for everyone else to read it too. It's one to pick up (immediately!) if you love love and really well told stories.
Download A Nordic King today!
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
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