Lida was married to the love of her life for just two months when she became a widow. Pregnant and disowned by her late husband’s family for suspected infidelity, she was forced to return to her family in shame. Eight years later, uninterested in the prospect of finding another husband, she finds herself the unwilling object of a marriage contract with a powerful warlord. In a day, she is wed, bed, and put on a ship headed for Tronscar; an unknown icy stone and steel fortress.
Jarl Magnus is pleased to have taken a strong wife who, however stubborn she may be, will surely produce sons. However, he is less pleased with his wife’s additional baggage—a young daughter. But despite himself, Magnus falls for the daughter just as hard as the mother, and Lida’s heart is warmed to see the cold, serious Jarl move surprisingly fast into the role of stepfather.
When enemies attack Tronscar, Jarl Magnus’s nerves of steel waver, as the warrior fears his love for Lida will weaken him. But when his family is threatened, he’ll go to war to protect them, discovering along the way that they have the strength to protect themselves.
Lida is our heroine and she has survived very rough treatment at the hands of her late husband’s family (queue mother in law jokes here!) but eight years later she is raising her daughter, Katia, with the aid of her own family when Magnus a powerful Warlord decides she's the right type of woman to make him a good wife. Now Lida is not exactly sold on the idea but the thought of raising her daughter safely with a feared Jarl to protect them sways her but she's a strong woman and demands certain concessions. Yes, she will sail away as his bride and give him the offspring he wants (but no promise of just sons obviously) but in exchange Katia will bear his name and be treated as his daughter.
Magnus has little time for women and their frivolities but cannot deny the attraction he feels for his new wife and is more than happy to bed her but what he hadn't expected was to actually enjoy the company of Lida and Katia. As they begin their new life, the brutish and distant Magnus finds himself wanting to understand these strange females he has taken into his home but not everyone is pleased with the new additions and betrayal and treachery are about to bring danger to all.
I have no wish to spoil the plot for other readers so will try to be informative without ruining this book for others. Magnus is a character who does not understand love and yet there are scenes with his brother that show his true nature. He has always seen women as little more than chattels and a weakness others might exploit and yet, as this story progresses, he grows as a character and his transformation made The Warlord's Wife a rewarding read. Do not misunderstand, he is no ogre and always treats Lida and Katia with his idea of kindness but it's fair to say he is blinkered in many respects. Lida has been truly treated abysmally and it really brought home to me how awful life could be. I admired her strength and yet at times she surprised me, but I never doubted her commitment to those she loves. What I particularly liked about Lida was she is written as a woman with keen intellect, but she is canny enough to know that sometimes you have to play the game in order to win.
A lot happens as this story progresses and I've no doubt that for many little Katia will steal the show. This is more than just a romance though. Yes, there are a lot of sexy scenes, although I didn't find them particularly arousing if honest; but it's all the shenanigans around the family that feed this story. Trouble and corruption are rife in Tronscar and jealous machinations are set to bring war to their door. I enjoyed the portrayal of the thoroughly nasty antagonist but was not quite convinced by Lida's unexpected family, if truthful.
So in hindsight, I did enjoy this book but did not find it to be particularly sensual, in spite of the bedroom activities. I would have liked to see Hok, the brother of Magnus, get his story told but I note the next book is about Katia, so I'm a tad disappointed. An interesting story that held my attention and perhaps ideal for those, like myself, looking for something a little bit different to other historicals.
I was gifted a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.