Sunday, March 29, 2020

Book Review: 'Sweet Barbarian' by Jayla Jasso

Sweet Barbarian by Jayla Jasso
Colorado author Jayla Jasso has at heart always been a writer and her latest novel (her third) SWEET BARBARIAN is proof that determination pays off. Jayla has been a secretary in East Texas, served n the Army, graduated with a degree in English from the University of Oklahoma and now teaches high school by day and writes by night. Of interest, Jayla speaks fluent Spanish, is an expert vegan soup chef and an avid Xbox role-playing game! Lots of food for inspiration for her romance/historical romance novels.

Jayla steps into a new dimension for this novel that passes easily from other times and places to the present. The opening is among the Visigoth Druids where our soon to be hero is being held- ‘Valamir strained against the chains binding him to the cold, clammy stone wall. Blood seeped from the wound above his left eye and oozed from the muscle in his right forearm where Jovinus’ sword had sliced open his flesh. The iron door grated open, and the guard moved aside to allow a tall, hooded woman to enter. Her white cloak floated along the disgusting wet dungeon floor, covered in centuries of mud and filth. “Leave us.” Glismoda threw back her hood and dismissed the guard with a wave of her slender hand. Her steely blue eyes glinted as she gazed at Valamir’s face… Valamir straightened his back against the wall, his hands curling into fists. His leg throbbed painfully with the movement; he’d been struck on the side of his calf with a Warhammer by one of Jovinus’ mercenaries. Glismoda’s gaze slid greedily over his body before she met his glare with a smile. “I mean you no harm, Valamir of the Braga clan.”

Now jump from there to contemporary Colorado and the story is summarized as follows: ‘When Karly wanders outside her mountain cabin into the snowstorm to see why her dog is going nuts, she’s expecting an injured animal, not a muscular mammoth of a man who’s unconscious and about to freeze to death if she doesn’t drag him inside and try to tend his wounds. He’s wearing only a few pieces of fur-and-leather armor—cosplayer or insane mountain man?—and his wild hair and beard haven’t seen a pair of scissors in a year or more. But when he wakes up and opens those amber-hazel eyes, Karly’s too caught off guard to protest his lack of appropriate clothing. He doesn’t speak English, so Karly uses her skills as a foreign language teacher (and a lot of charades) to teach him. She needs to figure out who he is, why he’s dressed like a Skyrim character, what happened to him, and where he belongs so she can get him home. That plan goes awry when his story starts coming out in broken English, and he claims to be a Visigoth from the year 483. Other than that little glitch, he doesn’t seem crazy, so Karly’s not sure whether to take him to the mental hospital or the homeless shelter. Or, just keep him around and drool over his hunky physique, his sweet smile, and his lion’s mane of hair. Plus, when her druggie ex-husband shows up high and hell-bent on manhandling Karly, it comes in handy to have a 6 foot 6 barbarian around to bounce him right on back to his Hummer with a bloody nose. Valamir is condemned to execution, and the dungeon guards are on their way to his cell. So when his captor’s wife offers to use her Druidic powers to save his life in exchange for his undying pledge of love and loyalty, he sees no other way out. A quick blood-pact and hasty incantation later, he finds himself transported out of prison, trudging down a mountain in a blizzard and stumbling into the back yard of the most lovely guardian angel Wodin could have ever sent him. Karly is beautiful, smart, efficient, and caring—everything Valamir’s ever wanted in a woman. Only problem is, she suspects he’s either lying or delusional when he tells her where he’s from, a huge barrier to winning her trust and love. He has to find a way to prove himself to Karly while protecting her from her ex-husband and praying the Druidic priestess doesn’t make good on her promise to call him back to her side forever.’

Pure fantasy mixed with steamy erotica and a profound respect for history and mythology – this is a fine novel by a lady who knows her craft. Grady Harp, January 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.