Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed last week’s “Three Nights with a Rock Star” and are looking forward to the big jump back to the 9th Century in this weeks book. This week’s book came to me from the author contacting me to see if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing her book. And I’m glad I said yes because I’m due for my fix of Vikings and this is right up that alley.
We start off this book with Gunnar and his best friend at Jul (I think this is kind of like our modern day New Years Eve for vikings?) where he’s just been given land. Fast forward almost a year and we are now with Ragnhild (Ragn) and her sister Svana. I was a little confused at this point who was who, I don’t know if that’s because I was tired when I started reading this book or whether the writing wasn’t very clear but it only took a couple of pages for me to figure out what was going on. Ragn and Svana are on a boat on their way to what I gathered to be either Iceland, Greenland or Scotland from their viking homeland, fleeing from Ragn’s brother in law who murdered her husband and destroyed her lands. Without even getting anywhere in the book there was already so much drama and so many possibilities for things to go wrong, go right, twist to happen for it all to sort itself out.
Some of the things I really enjoyed about this book was that even though Ragn and Gunnar obviously like each other they are both super scared to admit it, they are scared to relinquish control of their lives to anyone else and they are both burned by previous relationships making this all the harder. I feel like with most relationships if someone has been burned before it’s only one of them, not both. So this was a difference that I thought was really well written and made you really feel for the other character as the one who we’re following at the time struggles to figure out and accept their own feelings and history.
Svana on the other hand started the book with epileptic fits, a lazy eye, a limp and A LOT of fears that were driving her behaviours. To me it feels so stupid that people should fear her because of these unfortunate “defects” that she can’t help. In modern day epilepsy is treated with medication (I’ve known a few people with this and it’s managed), a lazy eye if caught early can be trained to be normal (I’ve experienced this myself), a limp that could have been caused by anything, including running for her life. And of course her fears. Who wouldn’t fear dogs when they’ve been hunted down by them? Who wouldn’t fear someone fearing them when it’s always resulted in being hit or punished in the past? To read how Gunnar and others worked together to cure her fears and slowly work on her other issues was amazing. The fact that her epilepsy slowly calmed down and went away speaks to the truth of them being caused by a head injury not her being a witch says it all for how ignorant people could be back then which makes me super happy to be in a world with less fear and judgement. I’m not saying that the world is without fear or judgement, but I think it’s largely better than it has been throughout history.
To wrap things up we got an epic display of political moves, outsmarting each other, planning ahead and counter-planning ahead. To have the trust of those around you to do what they can to protect each other, to live for each other and most of all to fight for each other is amazing. It was definitely hard won trust for a few people and grudging respect from others but they got there and ended up making the perfect team that achieved exactly what you set out to do. And of course there was a happy ending for the whole family that made me really happy and immediately made me want to jump into another Michelle Styles novel! Hopefully you’ll see another one of her books come up in the new year.
Thankyou for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing “Stygian” by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and don’t forget to read on down for a quick author bio.
Born and raised near San Francisco Califorinia, Michelle Styles currently lives a few miles south of Hadrian's Wall with her husband, three children and menagerie of pets. An avid reader, she became hooked on historical romance when she discovered Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt in her school's library. Michelle enjoys writing stories in a wide range of time periods including Roman, Viking, Regency and early Victorian. Her website can be found at www.michellestyles.co.uk