And Now For Something Completely Hilarious

dragonactually I recently read a book for review that I went into with very low expectations. It was a Viking romance called The Norse King’s Daughter by Sandra Hill. Generally, Vikings are not my cup of tea, but I was willing to take a shot at it. As I began reading it, I realized that this was no ordinary Viking novel. It was something different. It was, in fact, right up my alley. It was a book I would classify as a romantic comedy of romance novels and this is one of many I have read and enjoyed recently. Many readers associate romantic comedy with contemporary settings and perhaps Regency-set historicals, but they pop up in other subgenres as well.

I hadn’t expected to enjoy so many of these sorts of books, but that’s exactly what’s been happening to me. Over the summer I stumbled upon a book called Dragon Actually. I think that I found it through an Amazon link that came from another book I enjoyed, Dragon Bound. I expected a similar book to Dragon Bound, an intense Urban Fantasy Romance. What I got instead was a book that I say, when highly recommending it, is like the Monty Python of romance novels. Dragon Actually is a part of a series of books known as the Dragon Kin series and they are just flat out hysterical. When reading one of them in bed one night, I literally fell off the bed from laughing so hard. These books are irreverent and campy and just so darn lovable. In these books, the language may seem cheesy, but when you see that it’s all very tongue in cheek and that it’s supposed to be that way, you can start to really appreciate the books the way they were meant to be appreciated.

Let me give you just a small taste. In this excerpt, Dagmar and Gwenvael are the heroine and hero of the book and Dagmar is meeting Gwenvael’s family for the first time. They are a rather loud, sarcastic, and snarky bunch. Gwenvael is a dragon who takes human form as an imposing and incredibly handsome knight while Dagmar is a small, fragile, plain woman with glasses whose nickname is the Beast because she is so cunning and manipulative.

Dagmar said, “It’s time for you to stop talking.”

“I don’t want to.”

“But you will stop talking.”

“We’re on my territory now, Beast. You can’t strut around here and pretend you rule all—”

“Quiet.”

“But—”

She raised her right forefinger.

“She—”

Dagmar raised that damn forefinger higher.

“It’s just—”

Now she brandished both forefingers. “Stop.”

He gave Dagmar his best pout, which she completely ignored, turning her back on him to again face Annwyl. “Think there might be some place private we can talk, my lady?”

Gwenvael’s mouth dropped open. “Did you just dismiss—”

Dagmar held up that damn forefinger again but didn’t even bother to look at him when she did.

Annwyl’s grin was wide and bright. A smile Gwenvael hadn’t seen from her in

far too long. “Right this way, Lady Dagmar.”

And the books go on quite like this, filled with strong personalities and all kinds of banter – banter from completely antisocial, sarcastic dragons. They are a perfect blend of humor and romance, just like a good romantic comedy at the movies.

This has been a growing trend in the world of romance novels. The Viking book that I read is a part of another series that seems to be just like the Dragon Kin books. Though the one I read, The Norse King’s Daughter, is the fifth in the series, the earlier ones are supposed to be even better. The first in the series is My Fair Viking and I have every intention of going back and reading the series from the beginning. Everything about the book makes more sense now that I have read it. From the cheesy bodice ripper cover to the use of the term “woman channel” on the seventh page, all of it brings a smile to my face now.

Now, will these books top best seller charts nationwide? Maybe not. Are these the kind of romance novels that tug at your heart strings and make you want to laugh and cry because they are so tender and sweet? Definitely not. But they are the kind of books where you laugh until you cry and for pure entertainment value, nothing beats it. So far, in addition to the Viking series by Sandra Hill and the Dragon Kin series by G.A. Aiken, the other series that I have looked into is the Pride series by Shelley Laurenston (which happens to be G.A. Aiken’s real name) and those books are on my TBR list now. These books are a change of pace and I’m starting to see more of them. Will they appeal to everyone? Definitely not. But if you are in the mood for something a little lighter and snarkier, you might want to consider giving these a try. They entertain me, and I am very glad that I took the chance on them. I think that you will be, too!

– Louise VanderVliet

16 thoughts on “And Now For Something Completely Hilarious

  1. Speaking of low expectations and possibly Kismet I just finished “Wife for a Week (2006) by Kelly Hunter.

    I never read Harlequin Presents anymore so I’m not sure how I ended up buying this for my Kindle but what a pleasant surprise to find this funny novel. A recommended contemporary romance for those looking for a few laughs along with their HEAs.

  2. KISS – keep it simple. I find with fantasy/UF/PNR/sci fi authors get a picture in their head but on paper it’s messy. I like my “other” reasonable, plausible, possible so the “over the top” stuff I find frustrating.

    I’m also not a big fan of the – little woman realizes there is the big bad angel/vampire world out there – it’s been done many, many times and I haven’t found a version that I like.

    The best stories I have found in any genre tend to be the tightest written ones. Reasonable, plausible, possible, adult (I have children, whining doesn’t fly), as another person mentioned on Goodreads books that tell you how hard it is to raise children (for those of us in disability land of all stripes… suck it up), and mysteries/suspense where the big reveal revolves around the “assume the reader didn’t notice the hero/heroine didn’t do”… b/c I noticed. Probably spent too much time reading Jen Crusie’s “how to write” blog a few years ago. :)

  3. I’ve been longing for humor in my romance but it’s certainly subjective. I’ve tried many of the authors listed and often end up irritated rather than amused. I don’t get the Laurenston/Aiken love at all and find her writing juvenile. (I’m not a fan of YA either so keep that in mind.) Just like farmwifetwo doesn’t care for SEP who I do enjoy though not her last few. But what exactly is the KISS rule?

    I remember picking up Jill Shalvis but not finishing the book so maybe I’ll give that one another go. I’ve never tried Michelle Rowan or Jillian Hunter and appreciate reader recs!

  4. Another Laurenston fangirl. She is one of the few authors that has never disappointed me, which is why she’s the only one I’m willing to pay Trade price for. I love her bold, crass and totally mad cow heroines. LOL.

  5. It’s so difficult with humour to know whether you’re going to enjoy something. There’s no way of knowing whether it’s going to resonate with you until you actually read the book. Even excerpts don’t completely work: I thought the one quoted above was fabulous and was ready to add the book to my list, until you mentioned the author is a pseudonym for Shelley Laurenston. Unfortunately, I tried Laurenston a while back and couldn’t even finish the book, mainly because the humour really, really annoyed me. Weird.

    • Rosario: It’s so difficult with humour to know whether you’re going to enjoy something. There’s no way of knowing whether it’s going to resonate with you until you actually read the book. Even excerpts don’t completely work: I thought the one quoted above was fabulous and was ready to add the book to my list, until you mentioned the author is a pseudonym for Shelley Laurenston. Unfortunately, I tried Laurenston a while back and couldn’t even finish the book, mainly because the humour really, really annoyed me. Weird.

      Humour is personal. Many of the “regulars” that are listed above I don’t enjoy. I don’t find SEP funny but many do. I like Aiken/Laurenston for it’s crassness and that she writes shifters that feel like half human/animals. Nalini Singh does the same. They are serious in plot but snarky in humour. They follow the KISS rule that I enjoy.

      I am going to try some of the new ones on Mark’s list. Unlike Victoria I find most romance boards/blogs claim to have “new” authors but most people stick with the “who they knows” and don’t branch out and try new things. AAR’s review shelf does have an excellent variety of old and new authors.

  6. Favourite funny romance author? Jill Shalvis. I don’t really do historicals much, so I don’t have much to offer there.

  7. I haven’t read the Viking series you mention, but I have read her other (time-travel) Viking series. These are my humor scores:
    hill, sandra
    series
    the last viking****
    truly, madly viking****
    the very virile viking****
    wet & wild****
    hot & heavy****
    rough and ready***
    down and dirty**.9
    viking unchained***
    viking heat****
    dark viking***
    (***see ladies prefer rogues)
    I totally agree about Laurenston/Aiken:
    aiken, g. a. (see laurenston)
    series
    (***see everlasting bad boys)
    (***.5 see supernatural anthol.)
    dragon actually***.5
    about a dragon***
    what a dragon should know***.5
    last dragon standing****.5
    the dragon who loved me****.5
    laurenston, shelly
    series
    pack challenge****
    go fetch!***
    here kitty, kitty****.5
    (****see when he was bad)
    (***see sun, sand, sex)
    (****see belong to the night)
    the mane event*****
    the beast in him***
    the mane attraction****
    the mane squeeze****
    beast behaving badly****.5
    big bad beast****.5
    series
    hunting season***
    These are my top 50 or so authors for romances with humor: cindy holbrook, janet evanovich, julia quinn, katie macalister, victoria alexander, judith a. lansdowne, judith nelson, kasey michaels, day leclaire, jennifer crusie, shelly laurenston, maryjanice davidson, jayne ann krentz, amanda quick, sheridon smythe, julie garwood, vicki lewis thompson, susan elizabeth phillips, trish jensen, dara joy, emma jensen, lynsay sands, michelle martin, maggie davis, jane lynson, emma craig, jean reece, bonnie tucker, barbara metzger, georgette heyer, karen kendall, sandra hill, clare darcy, sabrina jeffries, judith/judy christenberry, judith mcwilliams, suzanne enoch, johanna lindsey, rebecca paisley, dana marie bell, linda howard, erin mccarthy, kay hooper, kerrelyn sparks, jill barnett, anne gracie, stephanie bond, cathie linz, julie james, susan donovan, jennie klassel.

  8. That this post comes on the heels of Romance Rant (XXXVI) is serendipitous. While I love regency and historic romances, something new is always welcome on my Kindle or bookshelf.

    One of the many things I love about this site, are the new authors I am introduced to; Judith Ivory, SEP, Lisa Gardner,Julie Garwood and Candace Camp come to mind as writers I had never heard of until a review at this site caught my eye. Now, vikings and pirates I don’t read at all, but funny…well that’s a different thing all together. So I’m gonna take the Dragon Kin and Viking series for a spin. And after checking out the author’s websites I discovered that should I like them, there is an extensive back list to choose from with each of these series.

    Along with great reviews, this is why I come everyday to AAR site. I get great reviews, interesting blogs and info on new-to-me authors. What more could a romance reader want? Other than a open-ended gift certificate to Amazon, that is…hear that Santa?

  9. I remember reading Sandra Hill, and finding them funny. I will have to check out these Vikings again. More funny…to me, because humor is completely subjective….Jillian Hunter (so many funny lines in Indiscretion) Jill Barnett, SEP, Jennifer Cruise, Janet Evanovich. I love a good laugh in my reading from time to time.

  10. no matter the plot, or if a plot repeats, Jayne Ann Krentz’s and Michelle Rowan’s novels are absolutely hilarious

  11. I’m another Laurenston fan. I love her shifters, her dragons, in fact anything she writes.

    I used to read anything Sandra Hill but drifted away after a while. Perhaps it’s time to go back and catch up with those very virile vikings.

  12. My funny books tend to be by SEP, Janet Evanovich, formerly Mary Janice Davidson and I still love Jennifer Crusie. These ladies have remained steady favorites for a laugh for a long, long time.

    Surprisingly, Linda Howard often makes me laugh as well. As intense as her books can be, Mr. Perfect, Open Season and Veil of Night all had scenes that had me rolling on the floor.

  13. I haven’t re-read the Sandra Hill books in years & years. Maybe I’ll pull them out for one of those long winter days. Thanks for the reminder of just how ridiculously funny they are.

    One of Laurenston’s ebooks is “The Gathering; Hunting Season”. I don’t know the reason she never wrote another book with those characters but it’s really one of her best stories and the cast of characters is unbelievably varied. I hope those that haven’t read it will give it a try since it’s truly a stand-alone book.

    As long as I’m doing a fan-girl reply I’ll mention that Laurenston wrote a “Dear Readers” letter in the front of one of her books that tells about a conversation she had with her editor. I almost missed it but it’s a gem.

    Thanks Louise for a reminder that not all romance reading has to be angsty!

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