914 A.D. East Anglia under the Danelaw.
Half breed Dane, Ragnar Long Reach, does his best to fit in with his kinfolk, but always feels like an outcast. When he meets the English Aelfwyn, also spurned by her clan, sparks fly and they begin a passionate affair. She is promised to another man, however, and forbidden to consort with Danes.
When her betrothed is murdered, Ragnar is the obvious suspect. Did he commit the crime, or is he just a pawn in someone else’s game?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Okay.Is this a romance book, an adventure, a suspense, a thriller, historical? I don't know. Just when you want to pigeonhole this thing into a neat and easy package, it switches gears. This is the first of anything I'd read by Lily Byrne, and I'm impressed. The book is essentially about two hostile groups of people who live in an uneasy truth. Ragnar and Aelfwyn fall in love, and of course, they're on opposite sides. Okay, you've heard it all before, right? Didn't Shakespeare write something like this? Trust me, you'll be happy if you pick this one up and read it. The rich historical background with the Danes and the Angles is brilliantly portrayed, but Byrne doesn't rely on her research to make the story work. It's crafted well and plotted perfectly. She even adds strange shades of conspiracy theory-like overtones that make the whole thing a hell of lot more substantive than you would expect. This is not a book you want your kids to read. There's plenty of sex. There's plenty of sex. There's plenty of sex. Get the picture? Still, it's excellently done. None of it belongs in Penthouse Letters, unless they're hiring writers who know how to write for that now. The book is, above all, lush and powerful with a constant and unrelenting sense of the historical backdrop. Early in the book, a tree is losing it's hold in muddy ground and threatens a hut. This is in the days before (long, long before) home insurance. You wouldn't think that an author could create a sense of foreboding and suspense over a falling tree, would you? She does though. Byrne manages to put you on edge about the tree, the hut, Aelfwyn running to get help, and Ragnar struggling to keep it from falling. The book might not be for everyone. It's a wonderful blending of genres and that might make sticklers for any particular one disappointed. For my money, though, it's a great read and a great choice.
For us modern girls, the thought of being too old to marry by the time you're 18 is utterly outrageous. And it kind of sticks a needle in your throat when you read about the younger sister getting married by the age of 15. Your insides start screaming at the way things used to work. But then the author set this unfolding of raging hormones in a time set with men in Viking battle gear, trained with swords, and taught humility (cue: swoon). Young, TALL, fit, and muscular, with raging hormones popping out of pants at every available opportunity - I just loved it. If you're looking for heavy drama and roiling meaning and tension, this isn't the book for you. But if you love rebellious sex with long haired lusty men (bathing en-masse in the river- be still my arresting heart) - then this is definitely the book for you. Lots of sex, some real love, intrigue - and a touch of mystery, all combine to make this a thoroughly enjoyable read, easily completed in a day. A holiday / beach read, this definitely fits the bill.