What does the wolf-eyed Viking want?
Stolen by marauding Danes, Helena’s desperate to escape. Her savior comes, a fierce Viking chieftain who takes her to the icy north. Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Past betrayal froze his heart, yet he warms to Helena. Her tender ways lure him, weaving kindness into his hard life. But, war erupts and the kingdom’s in the balance. Can Hakan defend his homeland and save the woman he’s grown to love?
Targeted Age Group:: Adult but okay for YA
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book and this series was inspired by true events in Sweden (AD 1022):a Viking king's bid to change Uppsala's pagan ways was met with exile. Norse Jewel comes from imagined events and people around that upheaval. The other intersection with this book comes from the movie 'Gladiator' — a "what if a Viking chieftain wanted to lay down his sword and farm like Maximus?" Everything else grew from there.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I answer this a bit in explaining Norse Jewel's conception. Hakan was done with long voyages and he wanted to stay on his neglected farm. That inspiration came straight from the character Maximus in the movie 'Gladiator' only with romance. Hakan needed a woman to keep his longhouse and help him with the Frankish language (he planned to continue trading in lucrative Frankish wine). He wanted an old Frankish woman but got a pretty, young Frankish thrall not born into slavery. Helena wanted to go home a free woman right as trouble heated up in Uppsala. One scene after another popped into my head and the book was born.
This excerpt is part of the longer audiobook excerpt, if you prefer to listen to the story.
"Why the tether? What harm can one woman do?"
His eyes widened at her show of courage, or so she guessed from the way he tipped his head in acknowledgment.
"Aye, one woman." His mouth made a grim line and bitterness threaded his voice. "I have seen the destruction one woman can do." He knotted the leather around her wrists. "The bindings stay."
Helena licked her lips, choosing silence. The chieftain's nostrils flared like some predatory beast scenting prey. Was this anger barely restrained? Or something else?
He touched the wet rope of hair that hung over her shoulder, letting his fingers slip between the tangled strands. His thumb and forefinger found a single lock and stroked the hair down to its curling tip. Goosebumps skittered across her flesh from the intimate touch.
"What is your name thrall?" He asked in the gentlest voice.
"Helena." He repeated her name softly. The corner of his mouth twitched. He seemed pleased to know her name, but the pleasure was fleeting, replaced by fierceness. "I care not about trust, but I require obedience."
Helena swallowed the hard lump in her throat.
"Serve me as well as Agnar–" His teeth gleamed wolf-like in the darkness. "–and you will be rewarded." Rising, he towered over her. "Fail in your purpose, and you will suffer the consequences."
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