Gripping story ... Four and a half stars.
I usually avoid Time Travel romances - Diana Gabaldon has set the bar too high - but this one was a real surprise. The writing style grabs you from the first page, and the story is great.
The heroine, Paige, is one of the book's highlights for me. The story is told entirely from her point of view but I never got tired of being in her head. We don't get to know the hero, Eirik, as well as we do Paige, but he's definitely a great hero: strong, powerful, and ruthless when necessary, but with a deep, kind and chivalrous side.
I loved the setting too. The author brings 9th Century Anglo-Saxon Britain to life brilliantly. The Kingdom of the East Angles and the Viking raids are realistically drawn with just enough description to make the setting seem authentic without going into too much historical detail. Paige's 'portal' between the two worlds - a tree on her father's property - works too. It's simple, but unlike some other time travel romances, I could believe it could exist.
I thought Paige's back-story was beautifully drawn, the loss of her mother, and her father's depression, followed by visits to psychologists. You really want this girl to find happiness!
The only thing that didn't work for me in the book (which is why I've given it 4.5 instead of 5 stars) - was the use of language. In 9th Century Britain, the Angles would have been speaking Old English, and the Vikings, a form of Norse. However, our heroine slips from 2017 North America to the 9th Century without any language difficulties. Maybe I missed it, but she just thinks her new Angle friends speak a little differently to her. Plus, Eirik would not likely have spoken the local tongue either - there would have been two new languages to learn! Outlander works because Claire only goes back a couple of centuries to Jacobean Scotland, where the same language (apart from the local Scottish Gaelic) is used. It's quite a big detail not to get right! If the portal equips travelers with some Tardis-like language device, the reader needs to know that!
However, the story is so strong, the plot so exciting, the writing so vivid, and the characters (even the minor ones) so richly drawn that I will just overlook that issue ...
I highly recommend this novel, and look forward to more in this series.
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