AVELYNN – Marissa Campbell
St. Martin's Griffin
England – 869
Avelynn, the eighteen year old daughter of the Ealdorman of Somerset has had a life of freedom, secretly practicing her mother's pagan lifestyle. Then her father promises her in marriage to the upwardly mobile Demas, who makes no bones about the fact that Avelynn's days of freedom will end with their wedding. Looking for an answer from her religion, Avelynn journeys to the coast where she and her escort are discovered by a band of Vikings.
Alrik, the Blood-Axe is surprised to discover an English woman practicing a pagan ritual. He is mesmerized by her beauty and bravery as she stands up to him and his sixty men! Avelynn, too, is stunned when the Viking leader shows compassion and concern for her. Despite their stations in life, the two are drawn romantically to each other.
But, despite Alrik's promise to return, Avelynn must return home and deal with her father's and brother's sudden demand to go to Rome, and her new role as leader of her people while the Ealdorman is gone. Even with the help of the men left behind, Avelynn is tested from the start. Her decisions anger some locals, and with the rumors flying about a Viking invasion, Avelynn has her hands full.
Because her pagan ways are illegal in her Christian Somerset, Avelynn travels to the cottage of a healer where she discovers secrets of her past. But all along, her heart yearns for Alrik. Do her dreams portend her future?
A debut novel, AVELYNN is a well-researched, beautifully written tale. Avelynn tells the story in her own words. She and Alrik see each other sporadically for Alrik owes his older brothers his backing in Ireland, but each meeting is sensual and poignant.
I highly recommend AVELYNN for a trip into the dark past of the Saxon and Norsemen era.