While this is the second in a series about the Forgotten Sons, a small band of ferocious Viking warriors, it stands perfectly well alone. Bjorn is the hero of this story, the illegitimate son of a jarl and a thrall, he was banished by his father in an effort to keep from splitting their tribe apart. Finding his own path and a brotherhood he never expected in the Forgotten Sons, when a ghost from his past comes calling, he has no inclination to answer - even if the ghost is a girl grown up into a beautiful woman.
Ilsa isn’t about to take no for an answer, and she has the power to force Bjorn to go with her, returning to his dying father’s side and defending their settlement. And here’s where it gets really interesting, because while Bjorn is rightfully given his due as a ferocious warrior and a competent leader, he’s never sold as invincible. The climactic confrontation didn’t play out AT ALL as I was expecting… it actually played out realistically, and realism is very much the name of the game in Gina Conkle’s writing. She doesn’t shy away from the gritty truths about living in the Dark Ages or the facts of Viking conquest, and we get to see some of the harsh consequences and the aftermath of being on the wrong end of raids. It’s such good writing, with obviously in-depth research behind it, that I feel deeply immersed in the world.
The romance between Ilsa and Bjorn is excellent; Ilsa is a survivor of an abusive relationship (which is be a potential trigger readers should be aware of) and Bjorn a survivor of an abusive family situation. Both of them are determined never to be put in a situation like that again, and equally determined to defend others, something which puts them in direct conflict because Ilsa is hiding a big secret, one which will have serious consequences beyond just herself when it gets out.
This is such a great read, with a genuinely strong heroine and a hero who respects her for it. If you haven’t read any of Gina Conkle’s Viking romances before, I highly recommend them, as this is an author who really knows her stuff and will have you deeply immersed in the story. Five stars.
Her Viking Warrior is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.