Josie Litton, Author . Bantam $5.99 (400p) ISBN 0-553-58164-3

The alliance forged between the Saxon and Norse in the first two installments of Litton's medieval-era trilogy (Dream of Me; Believe in Me) is bolstered by another arranged marriage in this spirited tale of love and betrayal. Frightened by the prospect of having to marry a fierce Viking lord, Rycca, the fiery daughter of a callous Saxon lord, disguises herself as a boy and escapes from her home only to run unwittingly into her husband-to-be, Dragon Hakonson. Despite her attraction to the mysterious and surprisingly gentle warrior, Rycca flees, taking with her the heady memory of their brief but passionate tryst. Dragon eventually finds her, but when he realizes that his "warrior woman" is really his errant betrothed, he feels betrayed. Nevertheless, he marries Rycca and takes her back to his settlement. His initial uncertainty eventually gives way to a deep-seated love, but their relationship is put to the test when someone sabotages the community and leaves evidence incriminating Rycca. The novel's conclusion, which assembles the protagonists from Litton's earlier entries, is anticlimactic, but their joyful reunion will please fans. Litton excels at depicting realistically flawed, charismatic protagonists, and this tale, despite its one-dimensional secondary characters and predictable plot, is a fitting finale. (Nov. 6)

Forecast:Hitting bookstores only a month after Litton's debut, this novel will likely benefit from the hype surrounding the release of that two-in-one volume. Although the recent political events may dampen readers' enthusiasm for this final entry, Bantam is clearly confident that it's holding on to a gem of an author. Indeed, Litton's next novel, Dream Island, is already in the hopper for February 2002.

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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