This second novel set in 716 a.d. in Wessex, southern England, tells the tale of the brother of Athelwulf, the hero from FORBIDDEN. Athelbrand "Brand" is the hero who finds the woman he'd once loved beyond reason, who betrayed him, and whom he'd thought had been killed after she left him, the Pict Princess Alina. Years before, he had helped her escape her betrothed, the ruthless and abusive madman Hun. Now, Hun was dead by his hand and he'd found her alive, living in a nunnery in Wessex.
With many lives in the balance, Brand was to deliver Alina to his king, where once again she would be used as a pawn in a political struggle both to save her father, and brother from execution. Only Alina who still loved Brand, knew how she had betrayed him and felt now he would only want revenge. Brand, who still loved her couldn't fathom her mind, or why she had run and thought she left because he had so little to offer her at that time.
*** Once again, Kirkman tackles the very early days in Great Britain's history, complete with the Picts struggles against the Northumbrians. She doesn't employ dialog as much as she expresses what the characters feel and their moods. In this story, the main character's motivations seem to be the focus of the story with secondary characters playing somewhat minor roles. Unfortunately, I found this to be very slow moving and if not having read the previous book FORBIDDEN, I might have felt a bit lost as to what had transpired to make Alina and Brand feel guilt over what happened to Brand's brother Wulf. Kirkman does have a writing style all her own though in this, if I'd not read the previous novel I would have been totally confused and floundering with questions. The sensuality is pleasant but this came towards the end of the book. Kirkman's debut novel (A MOMENT'S MADNESS) was exceptional but this latest novel will reap greater satisfaction if you read her second novel FORBIDDEN first.
--- Marilyn, for www.historicalromancewriters.com ---