Avelynn: The Edge of Faith - Marissa Campbell
It's the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik's friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.
Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn's faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik's past. Marared's threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.
When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales's bloodthirsty grasp.
I'm just going to get into it- the romance between Alrik and Avelynn is pretty damn steamy, and thank god. I have to say that being a historical romance you kind of assume their love affair would be tame given the time period but nope- and us readers fully benefit from that! We know Avelynn is basically on the run and leaves a mess behind in England. It doesn't take long for trouble to find her as they arrive in Wales, a place familiar to Alrik. Avelynn soon meets Marared, Alrik's former lover, and she doesn't accept Avelynn at all as Alrik's true love.
I have to say I really like how despite being in a Christian world, Avelynn's convictions and her love of the Goddess never wavers and it actually gives her the strength to do what she needs to do in order to clear her name. Things go bad fairly quickly for Avelynn and Alrik and Alrik's fate isn't certain as he's charged with crimes, Avelynn is captured, and people are dying left and right. The only complaint I have is that so many characters are in this book that sometimes I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and what their part in the greater story is. Big points for the story never getting dull, it's fast paced and action packed. There is more action in this book than the last three thrillers I've read combined. You won't get bored and you won't be able to put it down. I also loved how the book ended, it made it feel like if we never hear from Avelynnn again, it would be OK.
I have to give this book five stars because again, it blows away every other historical romance or even historical fiction that I've read. It's not a genre I read a lot of but I'm so glad I've discovered this author through Avelynn.