Following on from To Sin with a Viking, author Michelle Willingham continues to explore the idea of arranged marriages that don't work despite the willingness of the couple to make it succeed, and what happens when they meet their soul mate.
We are also given richer insights into the Viking culture and history during this time period, into infertility, into customs including fostering and adoption, divorce proceedings, and thraldom.
Ireland 875 AD. Having been captured by the Irish enroute to Dubh Lihn and taken away in Styr's ship by Caragh's brother, Elena Karlsdotter, Styr's wife, is again threatened when Danes attack the ship. Not wanting to be taken captive and sold into slavery or worse, Elena jumps overboard making for the shore. Ragnar Olafsson, Styr's best friend, follows. He has sworn to protect her.
This is their story, Elena's and Ragnar's, their past and now their present, of what happens between them and what could could lay ahead. Friends from childhood, Ragnar has always loved Elena. Elena has always been able to talk with Ragnar, be comfortable with him. He was the one she turned to for advice, whom it felt natural to spend time with. She put it down to their long time friendship. But in these extreme circumstances she finds herself responding to his very presence in ways she has never before considered. Meanwhile Ragnar must do all that he can to protect her from enemies and from the secret of his enduring love for her.
I found the story of Elena and Ragnar richer and more complex than that of Styr and Caragh. By comparison, Styr just seems to not have the depths that Ragnar has. There is a deeper exploration of Ragnar and Elenar's emotions through their personal histories, their sexual attraction for each other, the reasons for their actions and the consequences that follow.
Elena is a woman of quiet strength and deep longings. Ragnar's past sufferings have given him an inner strength and gentle understanding that undergirds his warrior image.
An enjoyable read!
A NetGalley ARC