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The Defiant Heart Paperback – June 13, 2013
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About the Author
Kathleen Kirkwood is the pseudonym for award-winning, best-selling author Anita Gordon. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's 1989 Golden Heart Award and winner of RWA's Desert Rose Chapter's 2002 Golden Quill Award, among other honors and recognitions. Having an abiding love for history, she enjoys setting her stories in distant times and places long past. They include a Viking Age trilogy (writing as Anita Gordon), plus other Medieval adventures and Late Victorian paranormal romances - Time Travel and ghosts (writing as Kathleen Kirkwood). Recently, she and her husband returned to the southwest, where they first met at college. Currently, she is dusting off and revising her backlist for release in digital and print format, bringing them all together under her "Kathleen Kirkwood" pen name. The first two books of the Viking Age "HEART" trilogy, THE VALIANT HEART and THE DEFIANT HEART were released in May and June. The third book, THE CAPTIVE HEART will be released In July. Her other works, SHADES OF THE PAST, A SLIP IN TIME and HIS FAIR LADY were released in 2012. She will next turn her attention to a haunting tale set on the Chesapeake Bay and the shores of historic Southern Maryland. Look for updates on PIRATES' MOON. at her website: www.KathleenKirkwoodHistoricals.com. For a behind the scenes look at the creation of these works, drop by her blog at: www.KathleenKirkwood.blogspot.com.
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Ailinn is kidnapped by Vikings who have destroyed her home and killed many of her loved ones. She along with her step cousins are enslaved and taken by ship to the Danish country. Ailinn is a beautiful women, and her kidnapper does not violate her nor allow others to do so as he wants to sell her to a Byzantine potentate.
When they reach land, Ailinn sees hero Lyting Atlison. Even though he is filled with compassion for her and would like to free her (her captor will not sell her) Ailinn is filled with contempt for the Danes who have abused her family and enslaved her.
Lyting is a complex and honorable man. He feels a calling to become a monk but also feels he is supposed to save Ailinn. He finds a way to be with her. He will accompany Ailinn’s owner and Ailinn on a journey to the Byzantium empire where he will deliver an important message from his brother to the Byzantine young ruler and his mother.
This journey is fraught with danger and the author does a fine job of describing the trek across the continent. There is plenty of history here and it is well told. Ailinn and Lyting have little interaction for the first third of this novel but their journey south allows them to communicate and a fine thread of desire and real liking develops between them.
Ailinn knows she is not a free woman and she could easily slip into hopelessness but she remains strong for her cousins. She begins to see that Lyting is different than the other Norsemen surrounding her.
Lyting is so torn between his calling and his longing for Alinn. Both of these leads are Christians amongst the pantheon belief of the Norsemen. This sets them apart and in some ways becomes a strong bond between them.
When the leads reach the heart of the Byzantine Empire, their lives become even more entwined. Danger has always followed them (there are evil Norsemen, and marauders, along with rapids) but they have even more enemies they must elude.
These leads undergo some major changes in their lives, especially Lyting. He has mapped his future but wonders how he can remain committed to joining the church and also be in love with Ailinn. He is aware his countrymen have injured Ailinn greatly and wonders if she can ever see him as an honorable man instead of a marauding Dane. Ailinn has to find her path too, one which will allow her to forgive and find happiness. This couple falls in love believably through some kind acts and their loyalty. This is a romance that has plenty action and adventure and a couple who overcome many obstacles to be together.
As some of the other reviewers have said, this was more of a history lesson and less of a romance novel. The author clearly did her research. I usually enjoy enough history in order to make sense of the why and wherefore of the plot line. In this book, the author way overdid it. We certainly did not need to know every name and title and duties in Constantine's court. A few of them would have been sufficient for this story. It just made it confusing to keep them all straight.
If you are a history buff, you'll probably enjoy this book. If you are looking for a romance, this book falls short because the historical descriptions take up most of the story.
There were parts that were very exciting but then it would become immersed again in history. I found my self skipping sections just to get back to the subjects of the romance. Our hero is the perfect hero; moral, kind, honourable and great in physical conflicts with or without his sword. Our lady beautiful and kind. Everywhere they go in this book all men desire her which got a little old. But hey we're all like that right? Secondary characters are well developed. If you like romance with a lot of history thrown in, this is for you.
I wish I’d known this was the second story before I began, as I would have read book 1 first. (The hero and heroine in book 1, Brienne and Rurik, are characters in book 2 and there are lots of references to their story and the characters from that story. I also had the feeling I missed some of Lyting’s story that took place in book 1.) It helps to begin at the beginning.
This second story is set in 915AD and begins as a fleet of Danish drakken dragon ships attacks Eire (Ireland) to rape and pillage. Ailinn, a poor relation of the princess Rhiannon, was seized with the other young women attending Rhiannon’s wedding. But Ailinn was not raped with the others, which infuriates her cousin, Rhiannon, who assumes it’s because Ailinn wore the bridal veil in a last minute switch of attire.
Once the Danes arrive in their homeport of Hedeby, Lyting Atlison encounters them and is drawn to Ailinn’s beauty. Lyting, born a Dane, lives in Francia where his uncle is Duke Rollo. Apparently (possibly in book 1) Lyting was spared some fate that caused him to want to become a monk, but his brother, Rurik, thinks Lyting should take a wife and settle down.
Lyting first tries to buy Ailinn, not to have her but to spare her a horrible fate. When he discovers she is destined for a harem in Byzantium, he joins the fleet that will carry her there. And then the adventure begins, and oh, is it ever an adventure: from Danmark (Denmark) to Constantinople, through dangerous river rapids and deadly river pirates.
I liked Kirkwood/Gordon’s well-researched, detailed writing—obviously based on impressive research. I could “see” the places and people they described, hear the birds and feel the movement of the ships. I could taste the heroine’s fear.
The author clearly made an effort to make this an authentic Viking tale set in the history of the time, hence women taken as slaves were mistreated and raped. No surprise there. Gordon does it tastefully. The author also made an effort to date the speech to the period, which I appreciated. (I prefer historicals that don’t read like contemporaries.)
There were a lot of characters to keep track of but the author did a good job of providing descriptions. A character list would have been helpful. And there were many place names mentioned (a map would have been nice). All the same, the story drew me and kept me reading. Trust me, some of the scenes will have you on the edge of your seat!
Lyting was a “to die for” hero and Ailinn proved to be the most honorable of the women, looking after her frail cousin, Deira. I recommend this story and will definitely read more of the trilogy, perhaps beginning with book 1.
The Valiant Heart
The Defiant Heart
The Captive Heart
Most recent customer reviews
some historical slave scenes violence and sex exploitation
overall enjoyable but adult content not for children