Publication Date: September 8, 2015
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
One extraordinary Saxon noblewoman and one fearless Viking warrior find passion and danger in this dazzling and sensuous debut.
Marissa Campbell’s debut novel is a winning combination of romance, history, and adventure sure to appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon.
It is 869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Eadlorman of Somerset has lived in an environment of love and acceptance. She hasn’t yet found a man to make her heart race, but her father has not pressured her to get married. Until now. With whispers of war threatening their land, her father forces Avelynn into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status. The dreaded marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik the Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed.
Alrik is unlike any man she has ever known, strong and intriguing. Likewise, he instantly falls for her beauty and courage. The two stumble into a passionate love affair, but it’s more than just a greedy suitor who will try to keep them apart.
As the Saxons and Vikings go to war, Avelynn and Alrik find themselves caught in the throes of fate. Can they be true to their people as well as to each other?
What Did I Think About the Story?
Avelynn is one of my favorite characters I have come across in a while. When the novel first opens she is almost too smart and willful for her own good, especially given the time she lives in. But being raised and educated to believe she was meant for more than the traditional roles of a well-born girl, not only expected to run her father's estate when he is gone but to become a pagan high priestess (this, of course, hidden from most everyone since the move to Christianity would find her burned for that designation), she is not willing to let her father broker a marriage to a man she doesn't love, even if it might keep her safe from the invading Vikings. This spirit doesn't fade but deepens and matures, even when Avelynn is faced with a murderous and conniving fiancée and uncle determined to take everything away from her or with the possibility of having to leave the world she has always known behind to escape to freedom with Alrik. Through it all her faith, strength and determination to set all the wrongs that befall her right and claim what is hers never waivers and she remains true to herself. Given all that happens to her during the novel I find this remarkable and I was cheering her on the whole way.
The mysticism and traditions of Avelynn's pagan faith are fascinating and very well developed. This sort of otherworldly aspect was a wonderful counterpoint to the more solid and real dangers and obligations that she faced in her life. I found it interesting that the "savage, blood-thirsty" Vikings seemed to have more respect for Avelynn's religion than her English Christian counterparts. Through the novel it was made perfectly clear that there were horrid individuals on both sides of the battle, but kindness and loyalty too.
Sensitive readers should be warned that there are quite graphic battle and sex scenes throughout Avelynn. I found them perfectly fitting given the context of the novel but thought it should be noted for those that are squeamish about that sort of thing. The passion between Avelynn and Alrik is palpable and watching it develop and deepen into true love and respect was very satisfying.
The book ends with just about every possible storyline left waving in the breeze unresolved. Going over what those are would give away too much of the surprising plot twists but I will say I am very eager to see what happens next for Avelynn, Alrik and many of the other characters. Being that Avelynn seems resolved to take a stand against those that have wronged her, I have a feeling the next book is going to be choked full of action and conflict.
Loving history as much as I do, I really wish the author had included an author note of some kind at the end of the novel, giving the reader a better idea of what was fact and where the story moved off to fiction. The battle strategies, celebration traditions and both Christian and Pagan worship practices are very well drawn and I will have to look further into whether these are true to history or not. I plan to do just that as having read Avelynn has sparked an interest in Medieval history and I cannot wait to learn more about it.
What Did I Think About the Cover?
I like it a lot! The girl on the front looks somewhat like the Avelynn I kept picturing in my head, with the long blonde hair in a loose, sort of messy braid. The Viking ship off the coast fits the portions of the novel where Avelynn and Alrik come together in secret and the raven plays a big part in Avelynn's early visions of the devastation to come. Not my favorite cover ever but definitely eye-catching.
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Avelynn in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to continue below for more information about the author, the book, the rest of the blog tour and your chance to win a copy!
Praise for Avelynn
"Marissa Campbell brings a long-forgotten era splendidly to life in this adventurous and passionate debut.” – Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author
“Avelynn is a captivating tale of star-crossed lovers. He is a Viking and she is a Saxon. Their struggle to be together will lead you on an exciting journey through a background filled with rich and detailed description.” – Connie Mason, New York Times bestselling author of Viking Warrior
“Marissa Campbell’s Avelynn is a fast-paced, rollicking historical novel whose irresistible heroine starts out as the willful daughter of a Saxon earl and evolves into a warrior and leader, as fierce as she is passionate.” – Barbara Rogan, author of A Dangerous Fiction and Suspicion
“A hot-blooded tale of Viking invasion, Saxon valor, and a love that conquers kingdoms. Get ready to be bewitched by the bold, brave Avelynn.” – Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Exiles
Buy the Book
About the Author
Currently hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn series, she is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7.
When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!
For more information visit http://marissacampbell.com. You can also follow Marissa Campbell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Thanks again to the lovely Amy at HF Virtual Book Tours I have one paperback copy of Avelynn up for grabs! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and all you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to enter BOTH your name and email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.
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That's it! I'll pick a winner on October 8th and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner.
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Only one entry per household
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Avelynn Blog Tour Schedule
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, September 8
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, September 9
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Thursday, September 10
Interview at Unshelfish
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, September 11
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Saturday, September 12
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Sunday, September 13
Review at Genre Queen
Monday, September 14
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, September 15
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Friday, September 18
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews
Monday, September 21
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, September 22
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, September 23
Review at Curling up by the Fire
Thursday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Sunday, September 27
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, September 28
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, September 29
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, September 30
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, October 1
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Friday, October 2
Review at The True Book Addict