The Swan-Daughter is even better than the Handfasted Wife, which is in itself an excellent read. It follows the adventures of Gunnhild, daughter of Elditha and King Harold. The period of the Norman Conquests is brought vibrantly to life by Carol McGrath, with all the rich detail of the period woven skilfully into the narrative.
Gunnhild is a sympathetic and believable heroine. She was brought up in the local Abbey, and as a noble lady the church has a vested interest in her lands and inheritance. Gunnhild has other ideas, feeling no desire for a life of seclusion. There appears to be a solution in the form of a suitor, Alan of Richmond, who at first appears to be all a woman of her status could desire. An elopement ensues, and Gunnhild imagines her future will be rosy. But as she uncovers more about her new husband, a controlling man who is more at home in battle than in the bedchamber, she begins to doubt his reasons for marrying her, and the love she so desperately needs seems to become even more elusive.
However, when her husband's duty takes him away from home, Gunnhild develops strengths she did not know she possessed.This is one of the pleasures of this book - watching Gunnhild mature and become the agent of her own destiny, no mean feat in this period of history. And of course there is a satisfying ending, which I wont reveal, because if you have any sense you'll click 'buy' and read it for yourself.
Although this is the second in a trilogy it stands well in its own right. However, you'll want to read the others in the series, they are so well-written and researched.