Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Synopsis: Not everyone is what they seem. Hakan is a huge and imposing Norse chieftain who has lived and pledged to die by the sword most of his life, but when a Frankish woman, Helena is brought to their camp to become their slave, he hears she wants to live the life of a free woman, and he has something else in mind too – he has always wanted to be a farmer and live free without having to kill people to survive. Even the most hardened warrior has a softer side, and this is certainly true of Hakan.
Review: Gina Conkle starts the story where it should be, with her among other slaves in a slavers market where the Danes come to purchase them as they would cattle or other wares. Rather than elaborate on some past happenings at the beginning, she gets right into the part of the story that is worth reading, the thoughts and feelings of Helena, a captured Frank who dreams of returning to her homeland to be free. Helena catches Hakan’s eye, even though at first he wants an older woman to take care of the home when he decides to become a farmer. He knows his men don’t approve of his yearning for living a different life when they can plunder jewels and other valuables while on their marauding adventures, but he has already tired of his current life and needs more if he can be happy. He sees happiness with a woman who wants to be as free as he, and sees this nature in Helena.
There are a lot of tense moments in this, the first is where Helena tries to get Hakan to take her as his woman, as one of his men who wrestled with her earlier may want his revenge later, and she can’t afford to be around when that happens, or she could be raped, or worse.
How good are the characters?
- Helena doesn’t accept her fate, and wants desperately to change it. She acts strong and won’t give in to the Danes no matter if she gets hurt in the process. She is a rare woman who will stand up for what she believes in.
- Sestra, another slave who was chained with Helena, she accepts her lot in life, unlike Helena and gives her sound advice Helena never takes much notice of.
- Loved the cover art, it’s a striking pic of a well built man (Hakan no doubt) with some lovely jewel designs on his arm and chest – nice.
Summary: There are a lot of good quotes in this book that I liked a great deal.
- “Status of birth matters little. It’s how you live each day… that is your true measure.”
- “A warrior who speaks like a…” She paused, searching for the right word. “a… wise man…’tis rare.”
Helena acts as a strong female role in this story, yet it is also Hakan’s strength of character in this that makes them both perfect for each other.
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Sandra delights in immersing herself in anything period romance, says that supernatural romance novels have a tendency to grasp her in a way that some don’t, and thinks GLBT romances have that extra something and show a different way of how people of the same sex find love and try to keep it. She likes a wide variety of novels and is interested in reading stories, and in some cases, the shorter the better. Romance of all genres can keep her interest, but she finds that the Regency period is one of her firm favourites. Learn more about Sandra in her Reader Highlight.