Second in Sarah Rodi’s Rise of the Ivarssons series, Escaping with Her Saxon Enemy features Lord Ashford – Ash - Stanton and shield maiden Svea Ivarsson. Ash once robbed Svea of her chance for revenge against Lord Crowe, the man who assaulted her and changed her life forever, and she has despised him ever since. However, once they are forced to flee a common enemy together, each begins to understand the other is not what they seem, and a strong mutual attraction begins to grow.
Ash attends Svea’s brother’s wedding and is annoyed to find himself still attracted to her, despite knowing she cannot stand the sight of him and despite his father’s insistence on his marrying a Saxon woman in order to gain his inheritance. Svea tries to avoid him, but is forced to acknowledge him while hiding the fact he is the only man that intimidates her. The next day, after seeing her brother and his new bride off on their honeymoon, Svea insists she and her men must accompany Ash and his king as they leave her brother’s land. They are all ambushed by Lord Crowe’s brother and his men, who intend to force the king to release Crowe. Ash fights so fiercely for Svea that he not only surprises himself, but he also manages to keep them free while everyone else is captured.
The pair begin traveling to Ash’s father’s keep and begin to learn about each other in the process. Svea reveals exactly why she was so desperate to kill Lord Crowe and Ash slowly reveals that his parents sent him away as a child and why. Much of their time in the keep is uneventful, with Svea getting to know Ash’s people while Ash helps them with various matters his father has been unable to address due to his illness. The almost idyllic existence they live while in Ash’s home is ruined when he leaves to rescue the king and their men alone, breaking a promise he made to Svea to take her with him.
I have the first book in the series on my TBR, and after reading this one I will be moving it up to read next! This title can be read as a standalone however, as the author includes enough information in the first chapter for new readers to catch up. I never felt lost at all but did feel I had cheated myself by not meeting Svea and Ash and seeing their dislike of each other before. I worried that Ash’s need to marry a Saxon woman would become a constant and irritating refrain, but it does not. He thinks of it only a few times when he is with Svea.
The plot is very well-balanced between the action at the beginning and the end and the calmer scenes in the middle. The former get the story going quickly and bring the finish on at a swift pace, while the latter provides time for Ash and Svea to really get to know each other and fall in love. I never found the change in pace in the middle section irritating, in large part because Ash and Svea are so very likeable. These are not one-dimensional characters that learn nothing and do zero growing throughout; they’re grounded with very real problems they must face togetherif they’re to reach their HEA. The trauma of Svea’s past has deeply affected her life and the way she treats everyone around her, and the same goes for Ash as he keeps everyone at a distance because of the pain he endured in his childhood.
I am still relatively new to romances featuring Vikings, and this is a terrific addition to my library. With just the right amount of action and heart, it is a very believable and exciting love story. I cannot wait to read more from Sarah Rodi!!
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