I started hearing a lot about this book on twitter. There was quite a stir about a story focusing on an arranged marriage not working out (not sure why that's a surprise, maybe in most romance novels they do conveniently work out - but I don't read a lot of those) and the married man falls in love with someone else. Also, I guess a lot of people have a problem with cheating in romance novels. I've got to admit that doesn't really bother me - maybe I spent too much of my younger years watching daytime and nighttime soaps, and tend to assume cheating happens.
Anyway, the book sounded different and I'm somewhat intrigued by the idea of Vikings, so I decided to read this.
I liked this story quite a bit. I thought the author handled the idea of married man falling for someone else quite well. He's been stuck in an unhappy, arranged marriage for a while. He still respects his wife and feels obligated to her. In the intro to the book, the author explains there is no adultery, and this concerned me because I was worried I was going to be reading a Harlequin Historical with no sex, and well, I read plenty of books without sex, but when I read a Harlequin, there are certain expectations. No need to worry though - plenty of sexy times to keep me entertained.
So this Viking in this story, Styr, finds himself being held prisoner by Caragh after his ship lands in Ireland, and through a misunderstanding, Caragh's brother and his friends attack the Vikings. Styr could probably easily escape Caragh, but he's intrigued by her. She's starving and she's alone. He wants to help her. If he escapes and abandons her, he's fairly certain she won't survive on her own. What I especially liked about the story is the way their relationship develops. They get to know each other and gradually begin to care about one another. All along, Styr is determined to remain faithful to his wife. Despite growing close to Caragh, his ultimate goal is to find his wife and make sure she's safe - even though he can't help but feel his marriage is over. The time away from his wife and the time spent with Caragh serve to convince him that maybe it's time to give up on a marriage that simply wasn't working.
Lots of adventure and danger in the story. I liked that Caragh's such a strong character, refusing to be a victim of her circumstances and I liked that Styr is so noble. His struggle between doing what's right and what he wants provides plenty of tension in the story.
This is the first historical I've read about Vikings, probably the first book I've read set in this time period. The environment is pretty harsh and a few things happened that did make me cringe, but nonetheless I found the setting to be interesting and different from what I'm used to reading.
I liked the story, and quickly moved on to read the companion book to this - To Tempt a Viking, which focuses on the wife in this unhappy, arranged marriage.
I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.