(Cover picture courtesy of NetGalley.)
Beginning ten years after the end of Éire’s Captive Moon, this is the story of how Agnarr Halvardson returns to Éire with the intention of settling there, marrying, and siring sons.
It is also the story of Aislinn, who was a child in Ragor when the Northmen raided eleven summers prior but is now a working physician in her own right. She spent a year in Bangor Monastery and became a Christian before Cowan and Charis returned to take the children to Cowan’s village in the kingdom of Dál Fiatach and returns there a decade later to finish learning all she can from the monks about their healing practices.
When Cowan brings her a patient, injured and temporarily unable to speak, she can’t help but find the strong, tall man attractive, even if such feelings unsettle her.
Although sparks fly immediately, Agnarr’s idea of wedding Aislinn—the physician who heals him when he is injured—is hampered by many factors, including language and cultural differences. There is also the matter that he is the man who kidnapped and enslaved Charis years before.
Believing strongly that God gave Agnarr to her as a patient, though, Aislinn does her best. Her knowledge of who he is wars with her unwilling attraction to him. That he makes his interest in her clear doesn’t help, as he goes so far as to seek her father’s permission to wed her. Can she forgive him for what he did to her village? Can she love him if she does? And will she be willing to accept a life at Agnarr’s side even if he does not love her?
Meanwhile, other raiders from the North come to Éire’s green coasts. Pledging his loyalty to the new king, Muiredach of Dál Fiatach, Agnarr prepares to defend his new home.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
After enjoying the first book, Éire’s Captive Moon I thought I might as well give Éire’s Viking a try. Charis was a great character in the first book and carried the story on her shoulders, but maybe Aislinn would be just the same as her foster mother. In the end, I wasn’t disappointed.
I like how Aislinn is similar to her adopted mother in many ways and yet so different. Whereas Charis is an agnostic sort of a character, Aislinn is firmly Christian and it really shows in her day to day activities. Her belief is sincere and I love how she still keeps some of Charis’ old ways despite the disapproval of the monks in the area. So imagine Aislinn’s dilemma when Agnarr comes knocking, looking to settle in Éire peacefully. Can she forgive him for what he has done? Can she reconcile his past actions with this seemingly changed older, wiser man? And can she find it in her heart to admit that she does love him?
I’m not a big romance person when it comes to fiction, but I liked Aislinn’s and Agnarr’s relationship. There was that initial spark of attraction, then they stepped back and were sort of wary of each other and then they tried to reconcile their differences. It wasn’t a straight and narrow path to romance, but it was filled with some very realistic twists and turns. Romance is hardly ever straightforward and Sandi Layne did her readers a favour by not making it that way in fiction.
The other thing I felt was improved since the first book was the fact that we get to see some of the greater politics at work. We bring in the Danish as well as the Vikings and the Irish and I liked the subtle political maneuverings that accompanied the changing worldviews within all three countries. I can’t explain this really but I also felt much more immersed in Aislinn’s world than I did in the first book. Maybe it was the added detail, maybe it was just the change of setting but I really felt like I was there alongside the characters.
Would I call this the book of the year? Not really, but it is a pretty good book. Put it on your wish lists because it comes out on January 23, 2014.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
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