Catherine Coulter is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the FBI Thrillers featuring husband and wife team Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock. She is also the author--with J. T. Ellison--of the Brit in the FBI series. She lives in Sausalito, California.
There's little pleasure in watching Coulter ( Earth Song ) torment and degrade her heroine throughout this tale set late in the first century. Magnus is a Viking farmer-merchant who does a bit of pillaging ``from time to time.'' On a trip to York he spies the beautiful Zarabeth and introduces himself with a proposal of marriage. The girl decides to accept, but her stepfather, Olav the Vain, who wants her in his own bed, blackmails her into rejecting Magnus's suit. No sooner does Olav wed her himself than he is poisoned by Toki, his daughter-in-law, who wants his riches. On learning that they were left to Zarabeth, Toki pins the crime on her. Magnus arrives in time to add his damaging testimony and persuade the court to make Zarabeth his slave instead of killing her. As Magnus sees it, ``Shepk had wronged him. She deserved to suffer for it, and she would.'' Accompanied by her young, deaf half-sister Lotti, Zarabeth sails for Norway to make a new life as Magnus's slave--the only one of the bunch to wear a slave collar--and mistress, plagued by his vicious and deceitful sister Ingunn. (Oct.)