In this debut historical romance, set in late 7th century Britain, the Saxon witch Britta and Viking warrior Karn ally themselves against the ambitious and cruel thegn Offa. Britta saves and hides Karn, nursing him back to health. But Offa discovers their whereabouts, forcing them to flee to the mainland, where they encounter further danger.
The narrative oozes historical detail while Britta and Karn are true products of their time. Offa is horrible, yet avoids being a stereotype, though his behaviour early in the book might make some romance readers close it. In this manner, the author distinguishes herself and her work from the bulk of the genre. The story moves quickly, enhanced by the supernatural atmosphere and well-rounded collection of secondary characters. Britta and Karn's relationship develops believably, as each fights to overcome their inner demons and acknowledge their need for the other.
My only quibbles come from the author's propensity for changing history. Also, there was no mention of the specific year this story took place - I discovered it by looking up the date of the battle depicted near the end of the book.
Still, an impressive novel that will satisfy those who love lots of history with their romance.
This review first appeared in the May 2002 issue of The Historical Novels Review.
© Teresa Eckford, 2002