One of my huge pet peeves in romance books is when a character from a previous book is killed off and the remaining character is given another book to end up with someone else. It's a huge no-no for me, and I always try to stay away from books like that. THE BARBARIAN, for me, was like that. It's the sequel to THE CONQUEROR, and even though Roxanne and Kayan are betrothed when they were kids in the first book, Roxanne is forced to marry another.
In THE BARBARIAN, it starts off with Kayan receiving news that Roxanne has been killed, and he vows to avenge her death. What he doesn't know until later is that she was given poison to make her look dead while she was taken to Egypt on the orders of the King. When she comes to, she doesn't know who anyone is, nor her own name, and the King tells her that her name is Mayet and that she's the widow of a good friend.
Despite the King already having two wives and various concubines, he wants Roxanne/Mayet as his Queen too.
During this time, Kayan is given the news of what really happened to her and decides he's not going to sit back and just do nothing. He's going to find her and bring her back to her home, and finally, make her his wife.
Months later, the King and Mayet are surprised by a visit from Kayan and his two sons -- the King, because he doesn't want to lose her and knows it's only a matter of time before she remembers who she is, and Roxanne/Mayet, because when she first meets him, she is stunned to see him glaring at her so furiously. Later that night, she's awakened by images from her past to find the barbarian standing over her. He tells her who she is, and explains who he is, and she doesn't believe him, at first. Not until a confidant confirms his story. From there, it's a race to get as far away from the King as possible, because he's determined to find her and bring her back.
When I realized the same woman from THE CONQUEROR was the heroine in this one, I almost put it down without finishing it. I never could, and probably never will, understand why an author takes the time to write about one hero, have the readers enjoy his story, and then kills him off in the next one. And there was another thing that bothered me in the book -- how the hero and heroine didn't even come face to face until much later in the book. But from the moment he snuck into her room and told her who she was, I was sitting on the edge of my seat to see what happened next. I couldn't find it in me to stop reading it, and hated every little interruption that took me away from the story.
Although the first few chapters lagged for me, from the moment Kayan and Roxanne saw each other the story and the vivid scenes had me captivated. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.