Desert Isle Keeper
(Ms. Groe now writes as Mia Marlowe)
Winter days just cry out for reading romance. When I’m sitting at home looking out on a day of fog, snow, or icy rain, for me there’s no greater treat than settling in with a fiery romance. When I picked up Erinsong, it was about noon and so gray it looked like evening. But, I soon forgot about everything outside and lost myself on the shores of Ireland.
The last thing headstrong Brenna of Donegal expected to find washed up on the beach was a Norseman — and a strikingly handsome one at that. She and her younger sister, Moira, were searching for mussels when they find what they at first believe is a dead man. But when the stranger grabs Moira’s arm, Brenna jumps to the rescue, eventually stabbing the man in the thigh. Bewildered and half-drowned, the stranger begs for mercy and claims he has no memory even of his name. Brenna believes him and when her sister returns with her father’s guards, she speaks in defense of the stranger.
Brenna names the blonde stranger “Keefe” (meaning handsome in her language) and reluctantly agrees to take charge of him. Seemingly harmless enough, Keefe immediately takes to wood-working and is able to repair Brenna’s mother’s prized chair. Brenna’s father, the Chieftain of Donegal, rewards the Norseman with greater freedom amongst his people. And, after Keefe saves Brenna’s sister from a Viking raid, Brian decides to give Keefe Brenna’s hand in marriage.
True, the marriage serves political interests since Brian cannot accept a marriage proposal for his youngest daughter until the eldest is safely wed, but Brenna has deep misgivings. The abbey where she was previously a novice was attacked by Norsemen several times and the Irish have suffered at Viking hands over the years. In addition, Brenna harbors a dark secret from her abbey past and, though Keefe assures her that she can tell him anything, how can she truly trust a man with no past of his own? Could Keefe have led a bloodthirsty Viking life?
Keefe decides that he’d like to travel to Dublin, a Viking stronghold, to see if he can find any of his folk and Brenna agrees to go with him if they can stop at the abbey. She has unfinished business with the Abbot and she hopes that by settling her past there, she can live a new life with Keefe. In route to Dublin Keefe sustains a head injury that brings back all his memories — good and bad. When he realizes he has a wife in Dublin, he must decide between his new life with Brenna or his old life as a Viking. And, Brenna must decide if she truly loves Keefe and if she can trust him with her heart.
Erinsong is simply wonderful. I’m not a huge fan of historical romance, but this one is so well-told and the characters so riveting that I couldn’t help but fall right into the story. She’s an Irish Princess. He’s a Viking. It seems all too predictable. Yet Diana Groe manages to make the story fresh and very real. You think you know Brenna’s deep, dark secret and yet you don’t. You think you know Keefe’s hidden past, but there’s much more to him and to his story. At every turn the author gives you new character depth and a twist to the plot.
For those looking for real history in their historical novels, Groe provides more than enough details to leave the reader satisfied without coming off as fussy and didactic. As for the romance, it is warm and utterly sweet. There is a refreshing innocence to this book and to the characters’ attraction. Even though this is obviously an adult novel, it did put me in mind, at times, of a teen romance. Brenna and Keefe’s romance has a softness that is endearing and a surprisingly tender. This is a powerful love story with a sweet ending and a great deal of heart.
Although I haven’t read Maidensong, I plan to. It was the author’s debut romance, and some of its characters make cameos in this tale. Groe’s style is very engaging, her writing excellent, and her characters very well thought out. If you’re looking for a book to while away a long winter day, this should do it – along with a cup of coffee and a good fire, you’ve got a perfect cure for the winter blues.