Catherine L. Byrne- Kjartan the Gentle
Kjartan the Gentle isn’t your typical M/M romance with only social conventions preventing two men having a relationship. Kjartan and Lini faced death just for being gay—even from their friends and family who wanted to make their ‘dishonourable’ behaviour disappear. This is Dark Age Britain, a society with no human rights declaration, no police force to turn to or even sanctuary to be found at the church.
In those days, everyone had to marry and produce children. Otherwise they would condemn their society to a slow death due to lack of younger people growing up to take over the running of things. So whatever a man’s preferences, he had to marry a woman. If he fell in love with another man, they would have to sneak around behind their wives’ backs—fit in with society or die. My characters are brave to even try having a relationship in the time and place they live.
But the heart wants what it wants.
Kjartan the Gentle is the third book in my trilogy Tales of Forbidden Love from the Danelaw—the other stories have different types of forbidden love in. Ragnar the Murderer has a Dane and an Englishwoman. Bjarni the Hero has a Dane and an African slave. These characters all appear in Kjartan the Gentle.
I didn’t expect to finish my trilogy with a gay romance story, but that is just how it turned out. I wrote it for two reasons: 1) because Kjartan (who is the villain in the first book and starts making amends in the second book) decided he was gay and wanted a book of his own and 2) M/M is a type of forbidden love I hadn’t written before and wanted to try writing.
Originally, the trilogy was supposed to be the story of Ragnar, but it in fact turned out to be the story of Kjartan starting out as a bad guy and slowly redeeming himself book by book. A bit like the Star Wars saga is really about Anakin Skywalker, not Luke.
Funny what characters decide to do.
When two men fall in love in Viking Britain, they provoke secret desires and prejudices from their friends and family, which leads to murder—but who is the victim and who is the killer?916 A.D. East Anglia under the Danelaw.
In Dark Age Britain, you knew your place and if you didn’t keep to it, you faced the consequences…
Hot-blooded Kjartan, accidental hero, has settled down into married life, with a baby on the way. But when he meets handsome glass maker Lini, their unlawful relationship provokes angry and passionate reactions from their kinfolk.
They have to fight back against the prejudice of Norse culture, and find out who their real friends—and enemies—are. And this conflict leads to murder.
But who is the victim, and who the killer?
If you like fantasy/sci-fi then you'll like this book. While it is a historical novel set in the British Viking times, Catherine does such a good job and goes it to great detail to describe the setting for the reader. I liked the plot line moved the character forward nicely and Kjartan was likeable right from the start. His conflict is clear from the very first pages. While this could be read as a stand alone, I think it's best to read the books in order so that the characters back grounds are clear for the reader.
4 out of 5 Stars