Bound to the Barbarian
A quick dip into Wikipedia for a chronology of Byzantine emperors reveals that this story is set in the spring of 1081. Our heroine, Katerina, has been freed from slavery by Princess Theodora, fiancée of Prince Peter of Rascia, but now Prince Peter is dead, and Commander Ashfirth Saxon of the Varangian Guard has been sent to escort Theodora back to Constantinople for another, unwanted, arranged marriage. Eager to repay the princess’s kindness to her, Katerina agrees to step into her shoes, just for a short while …
Of course, there is an instant attraction between the black-haired, blue-eyed Ash and the “doe-eyed” Katerina. Arriving in Constantinople, they find the city on the verge of insurrection as General Alexios Komnenos prepares his coup against the Emperor.
Katerina’s main concern is what will happen when Ash discovers she is not the princess and not even a noblewoman; his main concern is to protect the woman with whom he has fallen in love.
Early medieval Constantinople and its “Byzantine” politics provide an exotic backdrop to the central, rather predictable, love story. The reader wants Katerina and Ash to overcome their past demons and achieve a happy ending. The outcome is not in doubt, but it is fun watching them get there.
There are a couple of very loose ends that made me wonder if there were other books planned as companions to this one.