Desert Isle Keeper
Come Back to Me
Author Josie Litton may have chosen to be a mystery, but the success of her books isn’t. Between the brilliance of the marketing scheme surrounding her and her excellent writing – as defined by her enjoyable characters and exciting plots – little is left to chance. The finale to her “debut” medieval Viking trilogy, Come Back To Me, is as enthralling a read as you could hope for, featuring terrific characters in beautiful settings, and a believable and engrossingly dramatic plot. Other than the heroes’ names – which sound more like they come from some fantastic menagerie rather than from 9th century England and Scandinavia – this book is escapist fantasy at its best, and a reminder that the long-forsaken subgenre of Viking romance can indeed be done right.
Rycca of Wolscroft is running away. Away from her abusive family, away from the marriage they want to sell her into with a hated Viking, away from everything that threatens to keep her from the freedom she’s dreamt of for so long. On her way to catch a ship to Normandy, where her twin brother and only friend Thurlow awaits her, she spies a warrior in the woods, and, upon being spotted by him, flees for her life. Experience has taught her that warriors are brutal and selfish, particularly toward women, who are, after all, nothing of value. When the warrior catches up with her, she refuses to tell him her name, fearing he will return to her family. Slowly she begins to trust him, and though she won’t reveal her identity, she longs to share one stolen moment of happiness with him, in case it’s the only chance she ever gets.
Dragon Hakonson is not exactly your typical romance hero. You know the kind – he’s been hurt before, hates and mistrusts all women as a result, yadda yadda yadda? Well, not our Dragon. He thinks women are great. The best, in fact, that creation has to offer, and they’ve all pretty much reciprocated his affection in the past. He is, after all, a huge, gentle, and extremely handsome Viking lord. So he’s both delighted and stymied when the creature he catches spying on him the woods turns out to be a beautiful young woman disguised as a lad. He wishes she would trust him, but either way, he swears he’ll protect her from whatever she’s running from, and see that she gets safely where she’s going. Whether she likes it or not.
But when the enchanting creature who crept into his bed one night for a single memory of bliss before fleeing turns out to be his intended betrothed, things start to look a bit different. Especially when it becomes clear that her father would rather kill the both of them and be done with it than see the alliance-sealing marriage performed.
The characters are truly wonderful in this faery tale romance. Rycca is the brave and honorable young woman who has known only pain and abuse in her life until Dragon. He is the perfect male: strong, handsome, honorable and absolutely doting toward every female he meets. When she reveals her secret talent for truthsaying, he believes in her, instead of accusing her of being a witch. Trust is a little more difficult for her, but her unique gift eventually convinces her that he is all that he seems. In addition, the rich stories and characters from the previous novels in this trilogy seep over into this book, bringing with them a larger picture, and a larger evil that Dragon and Rycca must confront.
The plot is well thought-out and executed, and will send readers scurrying to the bookstore for the first two installments in the series, to read the tales in full that are only summarized here. While the characterization of the villain was a little light, it fit well with the fairy-tale feel of the story. Dragon and Rycca’s path to love is neither too easy – as it first seems to be – nor is it too hard, as the author deftly avoids bitterness, misunderstandings and other clichés that so often plague such stories.
While this trilogy is clearly encapsulated as a whole, the endearing stories told will find readers longing for more, and hoping that in time other characters (Rycca’s twin Thurlow springs to mind) will find their own loves and thus their own books. While the mystery Ms. Litton has created by her “who was she?” name change will soon fade from memory, this excellent story will not. A true Keeper.