cover image Lord of Hawkfell Island

Lord of Hawkfell Island

Catherine Coulter. Jove Books, $7.99 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-515-11230-6

In this historical romance set in 915, English Viking Rorik Haraldsson seeks to avenge the slaughter of his wife and children by the Irish warrior Einar. Rorik's ambush of Einar's castle fails, but he kidnaps Einar's half-sister, Mirana, who proves a difficult hostage. Orphaned at 12, Mirana was raised by Einar to be self-reliant; she can keep house and fight like a man. To Rorik's surprise, she is not the only woman with notions of independence. Returning to his farmstead, he discovers the wives feeding their husbands inedible meals to punish them for bedding a slave. Mirana's pride becomes the justification for whipping, bondage and rape. Despite the power struggle that undermines their mutual attraction, they marry. But Einar's men kidnap Mirana and return her to her half-brother, who plans to sell her as a bride to a rich, old king. While Mirana awaits Rorik's rescue, Einar continues his evil ways, forcing his favorite mistress to reveal that she is a man and to become a sex slave. Coulter ( The Heiress Bride ) makes a big show of introducing feminism and gender-bending that paradoxically highlight the stereotypical representation of sex and gender in a plot overloaded with twists. (Nov.)