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Victoria Vane is one of my favourite Historical Romance authors and I am delighted to feature her latest historical novella (the first in a series) on Rakes and Rascals.

Breton Wolfe

(A De Wolfe Pack Kindle Worlds novella)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 907 AD)

Cover Blurb:

She vowed to defy him to her dying breath… but passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, Adele’s only desire is to retire to the peace and solitude of a cloister—until coerced to wed a savage Norseman. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her avowed enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?

 

Purchase Link

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Hcyu5I

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EXCERPT

Adèle spent the night on her knees in prayer, gaze cast heavenward in supplication. She hadn’t dared to bow her head and shut her eyes for fear that sleep would overtake her. She couldn’t afford to be caught aware when the marauders came. And they would come. That was a certainty. Rudalt had never returned from his ‘Norse” hunt. None of them had returned. They were dead. She felt it down to her bones.

She’d dispatched riders to Cournailles but he was days away. He would never arrive in time. Her home would be burned to ashes before help ever came. Perhaps she could buy them off? Did she have enough silver and jewels to pay tribute? Or would the Norsemen simply extract their payment in woman’s flesh and men’s blood?

Her throat thickened at the sudden remembrance of her wedding night. She had borne Rudalt’s ravaging for years; surely she could survive it again. And survival was all she dared hope for. The Norse would come with their battle axes and siege machines. The Bretons might keep them at bay for a few hours or maybe a day, but penetration of their walls was inevitable. She had no true defenses outside of a few dozen archers. In his arrogance, Rudalt had taken the best warriors, leaving her defenseless.

From her bedchamber window, Adèle cast her gaze eastward where the sun was rising, painting the landscape of rolling hills in soft shades of pink and gold. She stared off into the distance, chewing her lip and willing her nerves to settle. Last night she’d worn holes in her slippers and bitten her fingernails to the quick. She now accepted that her fate was out of her hands. She had no choice but to entrust herself to the merciful will of God. If death awaited her, she prayed it would be swift.

Moving shadows appeared on the horizon. A moment later they took shape as a solid line of men. Hundreds of mounted men. But rather than shrinking in terror, a strange peace settled over her. She was the daughter of Judicael, a great warrior and Duke of Brittany. Her great-grandfather was Erispoe, the first proclaimed King of the Bretons. She would do as the father and grandfather had done before her—she would fight them to her dying breath.

 

Victoria Vane

Connect with Victoria:

Email: victoria.vane@hotmail.com

Website

Facebook

Twitter
 

 

 

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The eye-catching cover for the fourth book in Violetta Rand’s exciting Viking series.

(Blind, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 11th century)

Cover Blurb:

Betrayed by the woman he loved, Captain Marteinn can’t think of a better way to escape his misery than to win the summer games in Lagenheim. The victor is entitled to ask one favor from the jarl. And Marteinn knows exactly what he wants—his freedom from duty.

Taken to Norway after the Normans invade England, Mercia works hard to prove her loyalty to the Vikings. However, she fears she’ll never find true love. Until she meets Marteinn, a brooding warrior who never smiles, but still makes her legs quiver.

Is it just lust that makes their hearts spark, or is Marteinn being given a second chance at love?

 

Expected date of publication: 30th December 2014

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I am spotlighting BLIND REDEMPTION, the third book in Violetta’s Rand’s exciting Viking Blind series, which is released today.


ABOUT THE BOOK

 (Blind series, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 11th Century)

Cover Blurb…

The past is something he’d sooner forget…

Aaron McNally hates his past. Banished for betrayal, he trades his tartan for a Norwegian title and sword to win back his honor.

She has a warrior’s heart…

It’s difficult for Kara Dalgaard to act like a lady, even when her father demands it. After the handsome Jarl Aaron McNally arrives at her home recruiting for the king’s army, she’s forced to participate in a cruel deception to humiliate him. She quickly regrets what she’s done.

However, duty comes before happiness.

Aaron wants a second chance at life—and Kara is everything he’s dreamed of. But the past always has a way of catching up.

Will Kara trust or condemn him to a life of loneliness?

Buy Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

 

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 EXCERPT

 No voice had ever sounded so enchanting, so potent. Could this be a walking dream? The spirit-woman turned. Christ’s blood … the last person he wished to see again … Erik’s daughter. Bright blue eyes pierced him the same way they had in the hall.

Here in the moonlight, dressed in little more than a shift, she resembled a goddess. Their gazes met. Fire fueled fire. Although he wanted to touch her, he feared what would happen. He’d never be able to stop.

“Why are you here?” she asked.

Her words pulled him out of his dark thoughts. “I have no answer,” he admitted. “Something tempted me to swim across that lake. Or someone…” For a moment the world spun slowly around Aaron. Everything he wanted stared him in the face. The peace of nightfall, trees, water, and a fiery temptress who didn’t know when to shut up.

“Tempted?” she scoffed. “Perhaps my father outwitted you again and you came here to lick your wounds in private.”

What he’d give to be able to crawl back into that lake and swim out of Kara’s life forever. There was a better chance of Odin splitting his skull in half. “Who have you been talking to, lass? The tides have turned—your father no longer opposes me. And this chance meeting has nothing to do with your sire.”

“Oh?” She looked sharply at him. “Do you think I’ve been waiting for you?”

He shook his head. “The thought never crossed my mind,” he said. “Were you?”

“No. I come here to pray.”

“It’s a beautiful spot.”

“Aye,” she agreed. “Frequented by my mother, and now me.”

“You weren’t praying when I arrived.”

“No,” she said. “I enjoy the stars almost as much as the gods.”

“Odin’s universe is vast.”

“Odin’s?” she asked. “Don’t you mean God’s?”

“Whoever created the heavens,” he quickly corrected himself. “I often find myself mystified by its beauty.”

“What else interests you, milord? War? Politics?”

“Peace.”

She cocked her head. “Are you a negotiator for the king or a soldier?”

“My responsibilities require many skills.”

“Including intimidating my father?”

He scooted closer. “Unfortunately, milady, your father threatened me first. I am a principled man, slow to temper, but protective of my honor.”

“Why does my sire mistrust you?”

“Who am I to know your father’s mind?” She asked too many questions. Questions he wasn’t ready to answer. Maybe someday.

 “Why does your father dress you in armor and train you to fight?”

She laughed. “For the same reason you held a dagger to my brother’s throat last night. For the sake of honor.”

He looked at her more closely. Endless beauty met his gaze, but there was something different about her. A quiet confidence. And her eyes…

Warm excitement flowed through him. He gazed heavenward again. “Look.”

“A shooting star,” she said excitedly.

“An omen.”

“From your prophets or Allfather?”

Aaron rested his right hand on her arm. “Why credit anyone?”

“You prefer mystery?”

“I prefer you,” he said.

She closed her eyes and placed her tiny hand over his. “I can’t stop thinking about you.”

 It took a moment for her words to sink in. By Odin, she’d declared her feelings. Only he wished she hadn’t. Every inch of his body screamed to get closer. “I’m trying very hard to control myself.”

A smile lifted the corners of her mouth, she opened her eyes. “What if I don’t want you to?”

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Violetta Rand holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and a master’s degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.

Violetta has been “in love” with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the ancient worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.

You can connect with Violetta on:

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

 

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

 

Violetta is kindly giving away TWO Kindle copies of BLIND REDEMPTION and you will need to have an Amazon account.  To be eligible for the Giveaway just leave a comment together with your email address.

The Giveaway will run from June 25 – July 2.

 

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MY REVIEW

This is the third book in Violetta Rand’s Blind series and Aaron McNally’s story. I admit that when I started reading this book, I had serious doubts that Ms Rand could adequately redeem Aaron in my eyes. I don’t want to spoil Blind Mercy for those who haven’t read it, but I’ll just say that Aaron’s acts of betrayal did seem unforgivable. Well, it’s confession time, because by the end of the book, Ms Rand not only redeemed Aaron but he became my favourite hero of the series.

Believe only in those things that draw you to his breast: strength, ferocity, magnitude, bravery, loyalty, victory, honesty, passion, and love.”

Aaron’s decision to renounce Christianity and follow Odin’s laws seems to symbolise a cleansing of his soul enabling him to turn his life around.  I began to see many redemptive qualities in him…his loyalty to King Olaf; his firm but fair treatment of his men; the way he rushes to aid Kara regardless of the danger; working on the improvements to his home; wanting to honour tradition and present himself to Kara’s father as a formal suitor. Aaron fears he will always be judged by his past sins when he faces the hostility and distrust of Kara’s father, Eric the Bold.

Erik’s eyes flashed. “I’ve worked side-by-side with just about every sort of man, Jarl McNally. Criminals and saints. Pagans and Christians. Do you know what kind of man I have no tolerance for? An outcast who betrays his kinsman out of jealously and hate. Do you understand?”

Kara has the strength, determination and heart of a true Viking warrior. I could just see her wielding that sword. It’s easy to see why she resents her lack of freedom and the need to conform to her father’s expectations. Her desire for independence and adventure sometimes causes her to act recklessly…

Tomorrow? What if Erling killed her today? Kara stared heavenward. Where was the man she truly wanted? Please Odin. Send Aaron McNally to rescue me…

I enjoyed how the romance develops allowing for some heated exchanges, a moonlight kiss, a touch of jealousy, a woodland tryst, bitter condemnations, a declaration of love, a romantic poem and a special wedding.

Tyr and Rachelle (Blind Mercy) play an important role in this story and I was pleased to see the rift between Aaron and his cousin, Tyr, finally healed.  The idea of a fierce warrior like Tyr playing matchmaker made me smile and the friendship between Kara and Rachelle was a nice touch too.

Once again, Ms Rand provides fascinating glimpses of the Viking world. I loved the reference to the Norse names for the constellations and the story of how earth was created. I was also fascinated by the details of the Norse wedding.

The plot had enough intrigue and action to keep my interest…kidnapping, betrayal, a dramatic rescue, a merciless villain and a revelation about one of the characters that I definitely didn’t see coming.

BLIND REDEMPTION is another worthy and enjoyable addition to this exciting series.


REVIEW RATING: 4.5 /5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
The Blind series so far (click on book covers for more details):

Blind Allegiance by Violetta Rand Blind Mercy (Blind, #2) by Violetta Rand Blind Redemption (Blind Series Book 3) by Violetta Rand


I would like to thank Violetta Rand for kindly providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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The striking cover for the third book in Violetta Rand’s exciting Viking series.

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(Blind Series, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking)

Cover Blurb

The past is something he’d sooner forget…

Aaron McNally hates his past. Banished for betrayal, he trades his tartan for a Norwegian title and sword to win back his honor.

She has a warrior’s heart…

It’s difficult for Kara Dalgaard to act like a lady, even when her father demands it. After the handsome Jarl Aaron McNally arrives at her home recruiting for the king’s army, she’s forced to participate in a cruel deception to humiliate him. She quickly regrets what she’s done.

However, duty comes before happiness.

Aaron wants a second chance at life—and Kara is everything he’s dreamed of. But the past always has a way of catching up.

Will Kara trust or condemn him to a life of loneliness?

(Release date: 25th June 2014 -Soul Mate Publishing)

 

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

ABOUT THE BOOK

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(Odin’s Shadow, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 876 AD)

Cover Blurb

Treachery.  Revenge.  Redemption.  Certain themes resonate across the centuries.

Odin’s Shadow is the first book in a series of three about an Irish woman and the two Viking brothers who love her.  The novel is set against the harsh backdrop of the Viking era in the 9th century, a time when the sight of a Viking longship sailing up the coast of Ireland would chill the blood of any man, woman or child.  One young Irish woman, however, is not afraid of these Northmen, and a fateful encounter with one of them changes the course of her life forever.

Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of.  She is intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, and longs for an escape from her sheltered existence.  Selia is fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, and her hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.

A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind.  With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.

As Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well.  The tension mounts between the two men, and as Alrik’s character flaws come to light Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage.  Ulfrik’s desperate love for Selia causes him to reveal a secret from the past that threatens to destroy them all, and Selia is left to make a heart rending choice between the two Viking brothers.

Buy Links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412692
(VA95U — coupon code for 25% off on Smashwords website)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZ446NM

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/odins-shadow-erin-s-riley/1118892412?ean=2940045742191

**Odin’s Shadow is among the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalists.**

 

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EXCERPT

Alrik’s mood remained foul that night. He kept his distance from the men, clenching his hands and muttering to himself. Selia sat with her knees drawn up and her cloak wrapped tightly around her body in an attempt to fade into the background. She kept her eyes on Alrik as he paced like caged animal. Someone was going to get hurt tonight and she could only pray it wouldn’t be her.

The men were restless as well; they too could sense that Alrik’s naturally volatile temperament had reached a dangerous level. They gave him a wide berth and kept their eyes lowered. The normally raucous laughter and bawdy jokes of the evenings were subdued this night. No one wanted to be the man who pushed Alrik beyond the point of no return.

Only Ulfrik dared approach him. He did so with an air of indifference, sipping his ale, as if he were accustomed to the task of having to talk Alrik back from the brink.

“What’s the problem, brother?” he asked quietly, looking at the fire instead of directly at Alrik.

“That’s none of your concern.”

Alrik’s voice had an edge to it that made Selia fear for Ulfrik’s safety. He wouldn’t hurt his own brother, would he? Ulfrik took a few steps away from the fire and motioned for Alrik to follow. He pulled out his sword and raised his eyebrows questioningly at Alrik.

Selia stared, openmouthed. Surely Ulfrik didn’t mean to fight him? No one in their right mind would even consider doing such a thing with Alrik in the state he was in. Alrik grunted and turned away, but then Ulfrik held out his broadsword and pressed the tip of it into Alrik’s shoulder.

Alrik turned back and pulled out his sword in one quick, angry motion. Selia clapped a hand over her own mouth to keep from screaming; she had no desire to watch Ulfrik die tonight. Apparently, Ulfrik had the same thought.

“Left hand, Alrik,” Ulfrik said. “Unless you do want me dead.”

Alrik’s eyes were blazing like the devil incarnate. He ripped off his cloak and slung it aside, and tossed the sword over to his left hand. “Ulfrik Child Lover,” he snarled as he picked up his shield.

“So this is about me, then?” Ulfrik eyed his brother warily.

Alrik lunged toward Ulfrik without answering, and Ulfrik parried the blow with his shield and pushed him back. And again. And again. They did this over and over, like a perilous dance, both sweating and grunting with exertion. Was this Ulfrik’s plan, then—to exhaust Alrik until his anger had dissipated? The brothers circled each other, eyes locked, and then Alrik abruptly spun around and slammed his sword into Ulfrik’s shield with such force that the clearing rang with the impact.

There was a splintering sound as the wooden shield cracked, and a large chunk of it fell away from the metal band that encircled it. The edge of Alrik’s sword met Ulfrik’s shoulder and drew a dark line of blood against his blue shirt.

Selia could take no more. She ran to them and grabbed Alrik’s arm in an attempt to restrain him, but he shook her free and Selia fell on her backside. Alrik stood over her with his sword in his hand, and his eyes were so wild she feared he didn’t even know it was her.

“Stop! Don’t hurt him because you’re angry at me,” she cried out in Irish, too distressed to remember to speak in Norse.

A mummer went through the men, as several quietly inquired what she had said, and someone translated, just as quietly. A man snorted with laughter, and his whisper could just be heard above the others. “I think she’s bedding them both.”

A stunned silence spread over the group. The joke, meant to be heard by only one or two men, had indeed been heard by all. Alrik turned to face them and his eyes locked onto Skagi Ketilson, the man who had spoken. The color drained from Skagi’s face, causing the red scratch marks left by Selia’s fingernails on the day of her abduction to stand out in stark contrast against his white skin.

Alrik lunged toward Skagi with his sword still drawn. Ulfrik tackled him to keep him from running the man through, and at Ulfrik’s urging several men were able to disarm Alrik while he was down. But Alrik somehow managed to pull Skagi to the ground by the legs. The men unsuccessfully tried to restrain their leader as he climbed on top of Skagi and began pummeling him with his fists, to the sickening sound of cracking bone.

Selia scrambled to her feet and cowered against a tree. The men were in an uproar, trying to pull Alrik away, as Skagi screamed and Skagi’s father, Ketill, implored Alrik to stop. But Alrik was a man possessed. He continued to hammer away at Skagi and at anyone else within distance; several of the men, including Ulfrik, had a bloody nose or a rapidly-swelling eye.

Selia caught a glimpse of Alrik’s face and she gasped. The whites of his eyes were visible all around the irises, like a mad dog. He looked wild, feral… inhuman. Berserker, a voice whispered in Selia’s head.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Erin S. Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in clinical counseling. She is also a board certified lactation consultant. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. She enjoys writing stories that reflect real life: Erin’s books feature complicated, imperfect characters who love deeply, make impulsive decisions, and try again until they get it right.

Erin has a bit of an obsession with all things Viking, and owns an embarrassing number of reference books on Vikings that she reads for fun. While reading about berserkers, she had an epiphany and realized that the crazed, shield-biting men of sagas were actually suffering from a mental illness. On that day the character of Alrik Ragnarson was born.

Erin is drawn to any creative pursuit, from making hand-stitched quilts to producing mini-movies for family and friends from home videos. But writing has always been her passion. When Erin isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her two children, reading anything she can get her hands on, watching football, and renovating her house with her husband of 16 years.

Connect with Erin at: erinsriley@outlook.com

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED


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Erin is kindly giving away an ebook copy of ODIN’S SHADOW. To be eligible for the Giveaway, just leave a comment and your email address.

The Giveaway will run for one week May 16-23.

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MY REVIEW

Ms Riley kept me totally riveted with this Viking tale of intrigue, betrayal, jealousy, hatred, dark emotions and powerful passions.

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 Alrik and Ulfrik

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   Selia

Alrik is a dark and seriously flawed hero…more of an anti-hero. He’s cold, cruel and devoid of all human compassion…a man who can kill in cold blood without remorse. As the story unfolds, Ms Riley gradually reveals the fears and insecurities that lurk beneath Alrik’s fearsome exterior; his fear of what he might do when he succumbs to the uncontrollable fits of temper; his fear of going mad like his father did; his possessiveness towards Selia and jealousy of her friendship with Ulfrik; his belief that he is unworthy of love; his fear of allowing himself to care about Selia and being rejected and humiliated. In the moment when he finally tells Selia he loves her, I felt there might just be a chance of redemption for this broken man.

He let his breath out and lifted his head to look at her. “I’m sorry,” he slurred, “for what I did to you… there is no way to make it right. I’m so sorry…” Selia nodded , stroking his hair, as Alrik lowered his head to her breast again. “I love you so much , Selia. Every day it was torture to not come after you.”

I like how Selia is conflicted in her feelings towards Alrik veering between attraction and revulsion when she learns exactly what sort of man he is. She questions the failings in her own character but recognises an affinity to this volatile, unpredictable man. She believes that there is something dark and uncontrollable inside herself which causes her blackouts and terrifyingly real waking dreams, not realising they are the result of traumatic events in her past. Her description of her love for Alrik seems to capture her emotional turmoil perfectly.

Her love for Alrik was a shadowy, desperate thing springing from the depths of her soul.

Ulfrik is the complete opposite of Alrik. He has a conscience about killing women and children. Due to the fate of his birth, he has never quite fitted in and isn’t truly accepted into the family circle. Although he is Alrik’s half-brother, theirs is an uneasy relationship and there is always that underlying tension simmering between them. This finally boils over when Alrik sees Ulfrik comforting Selia after one of her blackouts.

I really felt the pain of his unrequited love for Selia and her rejection of him when he offered to marry her and claim her child as his own.

The sharp little fingers that were wrapped around Ulfrik’s heart sliced deep, ripping and tearing, until the bloody thing was rent from his body in a brutal jerk.

The secondary cast of characters add dimension to the story; Ainnileas, Selia’s brother who can charm his way out of most situations: Hrefna, Alrik’s kind and understanding aunt; Ingrid, Alrik’s volatile daughter; Grainne, Selia and Ainnileas’s mother, so obsessed with revenge to the point of madness.

Ms Riley paints a vivid and often harrowing picture of the brutality of the era as in the blood-curdling attack on the merchant ship or Alrik’s ferocious and bone-shattering attack on Skagi. She also weaves fascinating glimpses of Norse customs throughout the story.

Hrefna paused. “Making clothes for a man can be… almost magic… it can bind him to you. A woman’s thoughts and the words she speaks while she is making the clothes will influence the wearer. It is a very powerful gift.”

This is an exciting and powerful debut novel and I look forward to reading the continuation of Selia, Alrik and Ulfrik’s story in the next two books – A FLAME PUT OUT (late 2014) and OATH BREAKER (2015).


REVIEW RATING:   4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

My thanks to Erin S. Riley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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This is the striking cover for the second book in Violetta Rand’s exciting Viking series to be published on 12 February 2014!

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(The Blind series, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking)

Official Blurb…
The Sigurdsson family legacy continues…

A woman who prayed for a hero…

Orphaned at a young age, Rachelle Fiennes prayed for a hero to rescue her from her tragic life in England. When her only kinsman goes missing after the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Rachelle braves the aftermath of the battlefield to find him.

A man who lost everything…                      

Damned by the gods for surviving the bloodiest defeat in Norse history, Jarl Tyr Sigurdsson is still determined to get home. Hiding until nightfall so he can escape to his ship, his dangerous endeavor is disrupted when he’s accidently discovered by a beautiful Saxon.

Brought together by war, Rachelle and Tyr face many obstacles. Can sworn enemies find peace through love, or will fate tear them apart?

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