Ragnor Magnusson is in the doldrums. He used to love his life as a Viking, but lately, he's been bored with everything. Heaven forbid, he's even lost his enthusiasm for bedsport. Of course, it may have something to do with nearly his entire family being presumed dead ten years ago when they disappeared while sailing to a new land. He misses them terribly, but knowing that life must go on, he joins a fellow Viking in battle, only to realize it's a lost cause before they even start fighting. When Ragnor is knocked overboard by the enemy in full armor and believes himself to be drowning, he thinks he's finally going to rejoin his family in the hereafter. Instead, he awakens a millennium into the future in the middle of a Navy SEALs training exercise. At first, Ragnor believes himself a prisoner of his enemy in a strange foreign land, and that the SEALs class is their bizarre idea of torture. Little does he know that they've mistaken him for his almost twin brother who left the base after receiving a head injury. Ragnor plays along, and when he meets the beautiful sister of his commanding officer, he knows in his heart, she is the reason he was brought here. Eventually, he figures out that he's time traveled into the future, but will he be able to convince her of that and of the fact that she is his destiny?
Alison MacLean has worked hard to get where she is in the Navy. A well-respected doctor, she already outranks her older brother and all the men in his SEALs class. She hopes to one day become the first female SEAL, but so far, the powers-that-be have not been on her side. In hopes that they someday will change the rules, she often voluntarily trains with her brother's men to stay in top shape. Alison is very tall and big-boned for a woman, so she doesn't consider herself to be pretty. She was once engaged but lost her fiancé in a terrorist attack. Since then, she's hasn't dated anyone, but when she meets Ragnor, who is known by his SEAL buddies as "Max," she's magnetically attracted to him and can't believe he finds her beautiful too. Alison is keenly aware that as Max's superior officer she shouldn't get involved with him, but there's just something about him that heats her blood and makes it impossible to say no. While struggling to keep their relationship a secret, Alison must deal with a crazed stalker who is out to get her. Not to mention, this whole time travel business Max keeps going on about is just crazy talk, right? The doctor in her believes it's a result of the head injury he suffered, but when she meets his sister, she begins to think the impossible just might be possible. But can Alison fully give her heart to a man from the past who might be jerked away from her as quickly as he appeared in the present?
It's been so long since I've read a Sandra Hill book, I'd almost forgotten just how much fun they can be. Wet & Wild was certainly no exception. In fact, it is now my favorite book in the Viking II series. While I consider myself to have a pretty good sense of humor, I often don't care for romantic comedies, because most of the ones I've read felt like the author was trying too hard to be funny. Much like Kerrelyn Sparks, Sandra Hill's style never fails to tickle my funny bone. She is very talented at portraying the fish out of water aspect of a medieval Viking suddenly being transported to the present day and how strange our modern world seems to him. As one might expect, many amusing misunderstandings arise from the situation. Ms. Hill is also great with the witty word play, creating some truly clever turns of phrase. All these things combined make her books LOL funny to me.
Wet & Wild picks up the story of this Viking clan ten years after the end of The Very Virile Viking. The hero of that book, Magnus, has thirteen children, of whom the oldest son is Ragnor. He was one of only two of Magnus' children to stay behind in tenth century Norway, and since they've not heard anything from them since, they believe their father and siblings to have drowned. Of course, his two uncles (The Last Viking and Truly, Madly Viking) had previously disappeared and were also presumed dead. As the story opens, Ragnor is a very sympathetic character who is feeling depressed over his life due to the loss of so many family members in a relatively short amount of time. I thought it was cute that after years of playing the man-slut, he'd become utterly bored with women and had totally lost his enthusiasm for sex. He's a man who is very much ready for one good woman, a soul-mate, even though he doesn't know it yet and fights the notion tooth and nail. I liked that despite having numerous sexual conquests throughout the years since he was a teenager, Ragnor had learned a valuable lesson from his father's mistakes and been very careful not to "spread his seed" around. In fact, he's intelligent in more ways than one, and I certainly love a man with a brain.:-) He has a photographic memory, instantly memorizing anything he sees or hears, and he's fast with ciphering too. I think to some extent it was his intellectual side that helped him to accept the strange new land he'd been transported to and eventually led him to figuring out that he had somehow time-traveled. He's also very tough and determined to succeed when he finds himself in the middle of SEALs training. When it comes to his relationship with Alison, Ragnor is definitely an arrogant alpha Viking. He has a tendency to tell her what's going to happen rather than asking, which doesn't usually go over too well with her and could easily have annoyed me too, except that he also has a sweet, gentle, caring side that would be impossible not to love. The man knows how to sweet-talk like nobody's business. I think I'd have been putty in his hands too.:-)
Like many women in the military, Alison is fighting for her place in a male-dominated world. She's a tough, independent woman who dreams of becoming the first female SEAL. Since her brother is the commander of a SEALs training class, she often runs with them to keep herself in top shape in hopes of the rules changing. At the very least, she wants to be part of the support teams that go with the SEALs on missions. As a Navy doctor, she outranks both her brother and the men under his command, which makes for a rather dicey situation when she starts falling for Ragnor who is a subordinate. Alison hasn't been with a man at all in the five years since her fiancé, who was also a SEAL, died in a terrorist attack abroad. She's very lonely, and in some ways, still grieving the loss. She doesn't really consider herself much of a catch, because of her height, her physique, and her Little Orphan Annie hair. Lucky for her Ragnor favors redheads and her body reminds him of the Valkyries of Norse legend. That pretty much makes her irresistible to him, in much the same way he is to her. She may not look kindly on him trying to order her about, but she doesn't mind playing along in the bedroom, especially when she discovers what a talented lover he is.
The heroes and heroines of the first three books, along with their growing families pop in for a visit near the end. It was nice to see all of Magnus' children, many of whom are all grown up now. One of those is Torolf, who is the one who was really in the SEALs class. However, he got injured and left the base, only to lose his memory and spend most of the story in a biker commune, which is how Ragnor, who is a near twin to Torolf, was able to take his place without too many questions being asked. Torolf becomes the hero of the sixth book of the series, Rough and Ready. The hero of the next book is Alison's brother, Ian, the tough, no-nonsense commanding officer of the SEALs class Ragnor is in. Ian isn't unlike the Vikings in that he can be a pretty arrogant alpha himself at times, but he's very protective of his sister who seems to be his soft spot. Being the only one to survive the terrorist attack that killed Alison's fiancé, it appears he may have a few demons of his own. Ragnor humorously spends most of the story trying to convince Ian that he'd make a good mate for his sister, Madrene, the only one of Magnus' children still in medieval Norway, and they do get matched up in Hot & Heavy. Madrene showed up briefly in the first chapter, and despite Ragnor's complaints about her nagging, I found myself very sympathetic toward her. After being set aside by her Viking husband for presumably being barren, I think she needs her own HEA with a man who can truly appreciate her. The other members of SEAL Team 500 are a colorful bunch, and I think many of them would make great heroes. So far, the only two I can identify as getting their own books are Zachary Floyd aka "Pretty Boy" who becomes the hero of Down and Dirty, and Justin LeBlanc aka "Cage" who is from Louisiana and will be crossing over to appear in Snow on the Bayou, a brand new Cajun book, due for release in Aug. (2014). In her letter at the end, Ms. Hill also mentions wanting to write a story for JAM, but as far as I can tell, that hasn't happened yet.
I freely admit that Wet & Wild would not stand up well to logical and critical scrutiny, which is something that Ms. Hill addresses in her letter at the end, but like she said, it is a fantasy. I think anyone who can set aside that magnifying lens and just go with the flow should enjoy this one, as would anyone who wants a lighthearted read that offers a good laugh. Even with my own issues regarding romantic comedies, I was grinning and laughing much of the time I was reading this book, and closed the last page with a smile on my face and the relaxed feeling that can only come from a good chuckle. Now that I'm back into the world of Sandra Hill, I'm very much looking forward to finding out what happens for Ian and Madrene and the rest of the characters who get their own books in the future.
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