Widowed Australian, Madeline, is in York, England, to visit her archaeologist friend Amber. Fostered together when young, they share a fascination for the Viking period and studied the Old Norse language.
They are swept back to Jorvik, as York was named in 879AD, then a thriving trading town. Norse trader, Erik, bears an uncanny resemblance to the lover of Maddie’s dreams. When Amber is kidnapped, Erik agrees to track her down. Their journey takes them across to France and to Rouen then further inland, with many mishaps and adventures along the way. Erik risks everything to aid Madeline in her quest.
Widowed Australian Madeline (Maddie to her friends) is visiting York, England, where her archaeologist friend Amber is working. Fostered together when young, they share a fascination for the Viking period and studied the Old Norse language.
They are swept back to Jorvik, as York was named in 879AD, a thriving trading town.Norse trader, Erik, bears an uncanny resemblance to the lover of Maddie’s dreams. Amber is kidnapped and Erik agrees to help Maddie track down her friend. Their journey takes them across to France and to Rouen then further inland, with many mishaps and adventures along the way.
Amber’s interest in all things Viking doesn’t stretch as far as spending the rest of her life in the past, whereas, Maddie has no inclination to leave her splendid Viking lover, Erik, a man who has risked everything to help her in her quest.
Maddie groaned as she sat up, her fingers sliding along the dirt floor. That was enough to remind her of their situation. The two Norsemen were staring at her as if she’d grown two heads.
“Did I faint?” she mumbled, and Amber nodded. She looked stunned and blatantly terrified. “Oh God, Amber, you know why, don’t you?”
“I have a pretty fair idea.” Amber’s voice quivered. “He looks like your dream hunk, doesn’t he?”
Maddie put a hand to her head and rose onto her knees. Amber helped her onto the bench. “I can’t take this in. What’s going on?” Maddie knew a touch of hysteria flavoured her question.
“Be blowed if I know.” Amber clutched at her elbows as she folded her arms across her chest.
Their jeweller friend offered Maddie a goblet, saying, “Drink this. And please speak in our tongue.” It was an order, for all he’d delivered it in a kindly tone. “I suppose all this has been overwhelming for you.”
That was an understatement if ever there was one.
“Yes. It’s not every day one gets taken up by the gods and tossed into an unknown place.” How she’d managed to get that out she didn’t know. Her dream man was scowling at her and Amber as if they were freaks. She took a sip of the drink; it was some sort of wine, very sweet, but tasty.
“The gods?” the newcomer asked, his voice rumbling over Maddie like a well-remembered lullaby. But that was odd, for she couldn’t recall ever hearing him speak in her dreams.
“They say they come from a far place,” the jeweller said, shrugging. He pulled the necklaces from his pocket and held one in each palm, his thumbs brushing over the small droplets that had caused all this trauma. Maddie cringed. But nothing monumental happened.
“They say Thor sent a storm raging overhead, and as they both touched these talismans they were somehow transported here.” He gestured to the doorway. “Into my workshop—with copies of work I have only recently finished.”
His visitor looked sceptical—and who could blame him? “What nonsense. They are obviously thieves.”
Well, that was nice of him.
“You did not believe this fanciful tale did you, Ivar?”
Ivar. So that was his name. At least she could now stop calling him the jeweller in her mind. “It’s not a tale. It’s the truth, I swear by the gods,” Maddie said earnestly, hoping it was all right to swear by gods she didn’t believe in. If Thor really existed and Odin really travelled about these parts on Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse, then perhaps she was heading for Niflheim, their version of hell.
The big man didn’t look convinced. “You say these are copies?” He jerked his head towards the necklaces in his friend’s palms.
“Yes.” Ivar looked puzzled again. “And this is the strangest part. I sold one piece only recently to a trader who left on the morning tide a few sunrises ago, and the other one...”
As if an idea had just occurred to him, he went out to his workroom. When he came back after a moment he looked stunned. He offered something to his visitor; Maddie saw it was another necklace. “That is the same pattern as the one I sold.” He gave him one of their necklaces, and as his friend dangled them from his fingers while he examined both, Ivar rubbed at his face—probably more confused than ever.
Her Viking had very large hands—in fact everything about him was larger than life. Didn’t that happen in fantasies though? Hair the colour of corn reached his shoulders. His beard of the same colour was kept trimmed like Ivar’s.
Both men wore just what Maddie would have expected Viking men to wear when they weren’t in a battle. Ivar’s baggy breeches were caught tight about his ankles, while the visitor had tucked his into calf-high boots of leather. Their buttonless long-sleeved shirts reached to their thighs, secured about the waist by a leather belt. The visitor had a cloak fixed on one shoulder by a brooch with an intricate pattern on it, indecipherable in the shadows thrown by the lamplight.
The newcomer glanced up and caught Maddie’s gaze. A tingling sensation rippled the length of her spine. Nothing like that had ever happened to her before, and her breath caught somewhere halfway up her throat.
“What do you intend doing with the women?” he asked as he passed both necklaces back to Ivar.
Ivar looked just as bemused as he had when they’d first told their ridiculous lie. “What do you suggest I do with them, Erik?”
Erik? That figured. The shortness of breath returned. Somehow Maddie had known all along that would be his name. She’d always had a thing for the name, and knew that if ever she were fortunate enough to have a son he would be called Erik. It embodied all her ideas of what a Viking was and what he did.
For the first time a touch of amusement crossed the craggy features. “Now, I could suggest a few things. If, as they say, they arrived here through no plan of their own, but were sent here by the god Thor, then I would say it has been ordained that they belong to you.”
“Now, just a minute,” Maddie cried. “We belong to no one.”
Amber, who had been very quietly sitting with her hands clenched on her lap, now grabbed Maddie’s arm. She looked even more frightened, her lips trembling again.
Erik’s eyebrows went up, and he made a soft sound of derision. “Then I suggest you leave.” He waved one of those large hands again. The stab of pain Maddie felt at his harsh words was stupid. Hadn’t they wanted to get out and away?
Erik made a soft sound of derision, but Ivar answered, “It is eight seventy-nine.” He was obviously well educated or he would probably not know the date. The quivering inside Maddie turned into a full-fledged tremble.
Amber looked as if it was her turn to faint as she whispered, “Ye gods.”