When I saw Delilah’s call for sexy, romantic Viking stories, I figured I’d pass. I’m a history buff, but I knew just enough about Vikings to figure I’d spend six months just figuring out what clothes my characters would be taking off and never actually get around to writing the story.
Then one of my friends in the Society for Creative Anachronism, the historical recreation group where I play at being a person from the past, sent me a link on the Vikings and Islam… and I had my story.
My character or persona in the SCA is an Andalusian Arab woman, living in Corboba, Spain–al Andalus–in the 10 century CE. I’ve researched what her life might be like. I could dress and undress my characters without a second thought! (While I didn’t go into it, I could also tell you what they ate at their wedding feast.) I know the history, the multilingual culture, the high literacy rate, the importance of the arts and especially of poetry. Readers in the Arab world still enjoy poetry written in medieval Spain–and some of the surviving poems are by women who weren’t scribbling in secret, but were well known writers in their day. I was aware the cosmopolitan city of Cordoba attracted merchants, artists and scholars from many cultures, and some of those visitors converted to Islam, either from sincere belief or to enjoy the substantial tax benefits of sharing a religion with the rulers.
How would a Viking convert fare in this sophisticated urban environment? And more importantly for an erotic romance, how would he and his well educated and somewhat snobbish Andalusian bride find common ground? Or even a common language?
Both Arabs and Vikings, as it turns out, value poetry…
BY TERESA NOELLE ROBERTS
“Faiz rolls more easily from my tongue than your Northman name, husband,” she said, trying to sound mild. She didn’t know what Northmen expected of their women, but he was a barbarian after all. He might expect complete subservience, not realizing Walladah was an educated woman, a poet, and raised to be treated as a queen in her own home.
He laughed, a great, booming sound that belonged on the deck of one of his people’s narrow ships as it cut over a green-gray, roiling ocean. He looked too big and wild for the room they would share, with the delicate wooden screens that shaded the high, arched windows, the vine-like traceries carved into the walls, the rich hangings. Too big and wild for Cordoba or for her life, like some exotic animal in a menagerie. “I’m sure it does, but in the bedchamber, a man likes to hear familiar words and here, I am still Arnulf.” He touched his heart, and then his loins.
Oh, he was a bold one! They were married now, though they’d met only that morning, so there was no reason for him not to be.
Or, for that matter, for her not to let her gaze follow his big hand and speculate about the body hidden beneath the silk and linen robes he wore as if they were his rough native wools and furs. She stifled a nervous giggle as heat rose within her.