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Vanquished by the Viking

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«Vanquished by the Viking» - Джоанна Рок

Anglesey Coast, AD 995.As one of the spoils of war, Welsh princess Eva filia Madoc belongs to his brother. But when the beguiling grey-eyed beauty demands that Reinn Geirsson take her with him when he leaves her father’s conquered stronghold, he cannot refuse.Eva is desperate to escape being forced into marriage – and she gambles everything on the hope that Reinn is as honourable as his brother is cruel. What she doesn’t expect is the attraction she feels for the Viking warrior, or the desire his kiss ignites within her…
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Anglesey Coast, 995 AD

As one of the spoils of war, Welsh princess Eva filia Madoc belongs to his brother. But when the beguiling gray-eyed beauty demands that Reinn Geirsson take her with him when he leaves her father’s conquered stronghold, he cannot refuse.

Eva is desperate to escape being forced into marriage—and she gambles everything on the hope that Reinn is as honorable as his brother is cruel. What she doesn’t expect is the attraction she feels for the Viking warrior, or the desire his kiss ignites within her....

Vanquished by the Viking

Joanne Rock

Dear Reader,

The Scandinavians that history has called “Vikings” have captured our imagination in so many ways. Their battle fierceness is legendary. Their seafaring prowess as heralded as any culture in history. But what I love best about them is their strong, clannish sense of family and the almost tribal loyalty to their kings.

Reinn Geirsson is a fearsome warrior that most Welsh maids would fear, but Eva must take a desperate chance to escape her home. For Reinn, Eva is the one woman he must not touch since she’s promised to his brother. Will he risk all to betray his family? I hope you enjoy Vanquished by the Viking for Mills & Boon Historical Undone!

Happy Reading,

Joanne Rock


For the historical readers who remind me why I love writing this genre so much. Thank you for your notes and encouragement, and thank you for giving me a home for my work.


Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter One

Anglesey Coast, 995 AD

The woman’s eyes haunted him.

Reinn Geirsson had awoken long before dawn, his dream of those clear, gray eyes so real it had taken a few long minutes to realize he did not have the maiden in his arms. He longed for her the same he did then as now. But the dark-haired maid was a Welsh princess and part of the spoils of war. By right, she belonged to his brother and not him.

Now, Reinn fled her as fleetly as if hungry wolves chased him. Swiftly he covered the ground from the conquered Welsh stronghold toward the northern coastline, his path lit by a full moon and the driving need to put distance between him and the maid who would be his doom if he dared stay another day.

His horse and his hound would stay behind, at least for now. He normally travelled with a small band of men, often arriving first at the site of his brother’s battles because his karv ship was lighter and faster than the dragon ship that Gunnar sailed to denote his rank. Tonight, Reinn could see the dragon vessel, Loki’s Revenge, anchored off the coast. The serpent figurehead made the watercraft look like a fearsome sea creature in the dark.

Turning his attention to the smaller boats that lined the shore, Reinn spied a light faering that could be crewed by one man. He ignored the karv that had brought him here with fifteen other men, knowing they would follow him tomorrow and bring his horse and wolfhound with them. Reinn had thought he could remain in the same keep as the woman destined to become Gunnar’s third bride, but the dream that had awoken him told him he dare not lay eyes on the proud beauty again. Those gray eyes called to him with otherworldly power, tugging at his gut as surely as if they had met in other lifetimes.

Odin preserve him, he knew what she would taste like without ever kissing her. Her gaze was fierce as any warrior’s, her power obvious in the way all her people looked to her after the conquest. All save her father, the cunning Welsh king who’d given her away to a cold Norse lord without even trying to barter for her safety.

Reinn walked into the water, heedless of the cool waves soaking his boots. Unloading a leather satchel and his weapons into the shallow hull, he straightened to push the boat out to sea.

“Do not move,” a feminine voice ordered, harsh and desperate sounding, from the rocks behind him. “I have a crossbow upon you, heathen, and I know how to use it.”

His blood chilled.

Reinn prayed to all the gods that voice did not belong to the woman he most feared. And not because she thought she could shoot a crossbow.

No doubt she would miss him in the dark. With any other female, he would take his chances. But he had to know if the Norns who controlled his fate had sent the one woman he hoped to avoid directly in his path. Could they be so cruel? He lifted his hands, keeping them in full view, as he turned slowly around.

Only to see her. Eva filia Madoc, conquered Welsh princess and Gunnar’s promised bride. He did not need the sun’s help to see her gray eyes in the dark. He felt them upon him as she stared at him above the shaft of an arrow poised at his heart.

* * *

Eva trembled so hard she feared she would lose her grip on her weapon. Her throat was dry and her fingers had gone numb hours ago from lying in wait for her quarry. Still, she held her bow, her arms strengthened from years of hunting.

“Take me with you,” she commanded, knowing it was a fool’s request. The heathen invader could simply toss her overboard once they’d left the shore and leave her to the sea monsters to devour. But after careful thought, she had decided any fate was better than what she faced at home.

“The sea is no place for a lady,” the Norse warrior said softly, still standing in the water as if he could not feel the chill in the dark waves. “You will be safer here, under my brother’s protection.”

Dark stubble kept his features in shadow, so she could not be sure if that was meant as some kind of joke. His eyes held hers, and although she could not make out the color in the moonlight, she knew they were ice-blue. The maids in her father’s keep had argued over who would be first to bed him and it had surprised her that she found herself hoping he would not touch any of them. There was something compelling about Reinn Geirsson, even if he had helped conquer her people.

“Protection?” A sharp laugh rooted in hysteria burst from her lips as a sea breeze slapped her wet skirts against her legs. “Your brutish leader is reputed to use his wives so harshly they do not even care that he takes a new bride in every invasion.”

She studied the tall, loose-limbed warrior, hoping she had chosen her savior well. As much as it galled her to entrust herself to any of the invaders, she had witnessed his mercy in battle from her perch high up on a parapet three days ago. He had released a boy—one of the villager’s sons—who had taken up arms against him. Even her own father would have never shown such a kindness to an enemy.

Later, after the Norsemen had subjugated her father’s people, Eva had the chance to learn the identity of the merciful swordsman. Reinn Geirsson was the brother of the Gunnar, the powerful barbarian nobleman who had chosen to invade Madoc of Anglesey’s coastal stronghold. Reinn had sat silently at his brother’s side when Eva’s father had negotiated her hand to Gunnar in marriage. And while the blond beast Gunnar had watched her with greedy lust, raven-haired Reinn had eyed her with curiosity. Perhaps even—she had hoped—a hint of compassion. She had gambled everything tonight on that gut instinct. When her maid had overheard Reinn would depart this morn, Eva had slept in one of his boats to be sure she did not miss his departure.

“The rumors of my brother’s wickedness are exaggerated to build his fearsome reputation,” the Norseman explained, lowering the hands he’d formerly held aloft.

“If you reach for a weapon, I will let this arrow fly,” she warned, her arm aching with the effort of keeping the bowstring taut.

The whipping wind stung her cheeks and made her eyes water. Or perhaps there were tears on her face. They were common enough after she’d lost her sovereignty and her home to the invaders. Casualties had been few, but only because her heartless father had quickly promised her hand to a warrior who fought like the devil’s spawn and had robbed her mother’s shrine in the family chapel.

“My weapons are all in the boat,” Reinn assured her. “I vow not to touch them, but I am getting into the vessel now, and you must return to the safety of your chamber.”

Her chest squeezed tight as he lifted a dripping boot and hooked it over the side of the boat. She could not let him leave without her.

“Nay!” she cried, dropping the crossbow to run across the slippery rocks that separated them. “Do not!”

One moment she was running and the next her foot went out from under her. She sailed through the air to land in a heap on the beach, her cheek splashing into the surf. Grit and muck weighed her down, but she attempted to rise. She reached a hand toward the wooden vessel as he reached for the oars.

“Curse you, Norns!” he shouted, shaking a fist at the sky.

She winced, not from his shout but from the pain in her knee as she tried to stand.

“You are the one who deserves the cursing,” she muttered, swiping wet sand from one cheek. “I thought you were a man of mercy.”

He stood back in the water, no longer in his boat. Only then did she realize he hadn’t been able to push the craft out to sea with his weight in it, the bow pushed into the shore. Thank the saints. There was still a chance she could escape the keep with him. She had to believe a warrior who did not kill an armed boy would never harm a defenseless woman.

“Why did you follow me?” he shouted, his frustration evident. He seemed angry, but she did not sense the fury was directed toward her.

She’d weathered enough storms of temper with her father to know the difference. This man’s hands did not flex and curl with the need to lash out.

“I did not follow you.” She pushed the hood back from her cloak and unfastened the brooch that held it closed at her neck. The garment was sodden and she would be warmer without the chilly length pressed against her. “I waited for you in one of the boats after my maid overheard one of your men say you might depart before morn.”

He stalked closer, his shadow blocking out the moonlight and reminding her how large he was. She prayed she had not misjudged him. On second thought, she kept her wet cloak about her shoulders, suddenly less keen to drop any barrier between them.

“You have no cause to think I will aid you.” His lowered voice intimidated her far more than when he’d shouted, and she wasn’t sure why. There was a tension between them, a thread of anxiety he seemed to feel as much as she. “You are not mine. I will not betray my brother to steal his promised bride.”

Eva’s breath came faster. She shivered from the cold seeping through her cloak and from the chill in his voice.

“You are not stealing me. I am demanding you show compassion toward a captive of war by taking me to the nearest settlement.” She would find shelter there, whether in a nobleman’s keep or a nunnery. “My father has allies in Cledemutha, a short journey to the west. No one needs to know who aided me when I fled.”

“I will know.” He glared down at her from his imposing height, his words as intractable as his stance.

Her mouth went dry. “You would leave me to walk to Cledemutha when you will surely pass the settlement on your way to...wherever it is you are going?”

“You will not walk anywhere.” He gripped her elbow through her wet garments. “I am escorting you back to your father’s keep.”

He urged her up the shore, but her first step was a stumble, her knee still unsteady from her fall. A string of foreign curses—well, they sounded like curses—flew from his lips as he hauled her closer, taking her weight by wrapping an arm around her waist. The heat of his body warmed her, the scent of leather and hearth fire rising from his tunic.

“You are injured,” he observed. “Unfit to walk anywhere.”

“And it is your fault for trying to leave without me.” She braced a hand on his chest to keep herself from leaning too heavily upon him and was dismayed to feel more heated sinew beneath her palm.

Being caught in his arm was like settling into a bed next to wrapped hearthstones on a chilly winter’s eve.

“I must get you home.” He hefted her higher against him then swept her legs out from under her so that he cradled her like a babe. “You are injured and chilled.”

“Nay!” She wrenched hard away from him, surprising him so that he nearly lost his grip. But he recovered quickly, tightening his hold while she struggled. “By all that is holy, you cannot bring me back. I would sooner fling myself from the cliffs than wed your knave of a sibling and I swear I will do it. He cannot guard me every moment of the day and I know my own keep well enough to slip out at night when I wish.”

Reinn slowed his step at that, his face close to hers while one broad hand palmed her thigh and the other gripped her forearm, his knuckles tucked against her breast. She had soaked his clothes as well as her own, but the dampness seemed to steam away from his skin, his body was so warm next to hers. She swallowed hard, confused by the onslaught of sensations when she needed to be focused on one goal.

Escape from Gunnar Geirsson and any fate that included marriage to a soulless cur.

She peered up into Reinn’s face, the sharp cheekbones and chiseled jaw unyielding. But she could swear there was something softer in his eyes, just as she had suspected that first day when he sat at his brother’s side in the great hall of the conquered stronghold. His gaze held her as surely as his arms. She could not look away.

Warmth curled through her, a slow sweetening of her blood that left her with a surprisingly pleasant feeling despite her aching knee, her gritty clothes and damp skin. She felt drawn to the Norseman, her shoulders leaning closer. Closer.

Just when her eyes drifted shut, she heard a commotion up the shore. Dogs barking. Men shouting.

Turning, she saw a throng of wavering torches at the castle walls on the cliffs above. Ice filled her veins.

“They’ve realized I’m missing.” She shoved against Reinn, needing to run before they caught her.

But to her surprise, his feet were already moving. Not toward the keep, but toward his vessel and the freedom of the open sea.


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