Maggie Davis,
Winter Serpent
(E-Reads, 2001)

Maggie Davis is a writer with enduring quality, but often she has been misunderstood. She is an amazing talent, one that inspired me to write historical novels, a name that is recognized in the romance market as one of the Grand Dames, yet because of publisher difficulties, she has not gotten the widespread fame that she deserves with the likes of Nora Roberts, Linda Howard or Jayne Ann Krentz. Davis or her alter ego, Katherine Deauxville, has an amazing body of works, ranging from glitz 'n' glamour contemporary romance tales to the zany Out of the Blue, where an alien accidentally cohabitates in a woman's body to carry out his mission on Earth.

But it's in heavy historicals where Davis is at her best. They're marketed as historical romances -- let's face it, people may look down their noses at romance, but it's where the money is. A historical romance will always outsell a historical saga. Deauxville's works are too strong for the average historical romance reader, and most straight historical readers turn up their noses at the first hint of romance. It's a shame, since romance is so much a part of the human drama. So, Davis seems to fall into the crack between categories.

She is one of the best historical or historical romances writers around. Breathtaking sagas including Blood Red Roses and Daggers of Gold follow generations of a family in medieval Scotland and England. Written under the Deauxville banner, they are wonderful, realistic tales rich in that period's history. Then, she can turn around and give you The Far Side of Home about the American Civil War, and now Winter Serpent.

Winter Serpent is a strong Viking tale that centers on a woman's struggle to survive in a barbaric culture. Romance readers who want a little more history in their historicals would do well to seek out this marvelous saga. It is a gritty story of a Scot's lass, beautiful and strong-willed, who will let no man break her pride. Dorieann is the daughter of a Scots chieftain and Pictish mother. Her foster brother kills her father and assumes control of the clan. He desires Dorieann, but she refuses his advances. In his fury, he sells her to the Viking settlers, fierce warriors of the Norse Bear Cult, believing she will kill herself rather than submit to them. Dorieann is surprised to learn she has been bought for Thorsten, their leader. She survives, adjusts and earns Thorsten's approval so much that he takes her as his wife. This is not the way her stepbrother wanted her fate to go, so he begins to ferment trouble, pushing for a clash of the Scots, Picts and Vikings.

Davis pulls no punches as she gives you a realistically grim portrayal of a woman surviving, yet keeping her pride and spirit, and making life as best she can in a world that was very harsh for women. Applause to her for not taking the easy road, but sticking to a believable depiction of a fiery woman. I have spent my life with history, so there are very few writers of Scottish lore and history that impress me. Davis amazes me.

When I was running a bookstore, a customer asked me if I read Maggie Davis and I admitted I had not. She insisted that I read her and I am so very glad she did!

- Rambles
written by DeborahAnne MacGillivray
published 29 March 2003

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