My rating: 3 stars / I liked it
The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to seek refuge in Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.
The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who have come to serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon!
Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The king has promised her to one of his favored warriors, but she has given her heart to a lowly scribe.
When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?
I had mixed feelings about this one. I loved the setting of historical Scotland and appreciated the research that must have gone into realistically portraying the turmoil of the period. The author's foreword was especially informative and helpful before beginning the story. It was the plot and characters I didn't find compelling enough to keep me interested. Catrìona and Steinar are easy to like, but are missing depth. The story is told from mainly their points of view, but occasionally a random scene would be presented from a secondary character's perspective which I felt made things choppy and only served as a way to reveal something that Catrìona is oblivious to. There seemed to be a lot of waiting in between battle scenes that slowed the pace and the characters did a lot of guessing and second guessing their feelings and those of the others. I think this is a book that would be enjoyed by many, but it just wasn't for me.
(I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher; all opinions in this review are my own)