Book blurb from Susan's site:
Between domination and subservience exists a realm of sensual fantasy unlike any ever dreamed...
Marja was born a child of the fens, young, beautiful, and free. Her days were spent searching for bog iron for her poor family and communing with the spirits of the land who both guard and guide her. But her contentment is broken when a man comes to her small village and buys her from her father to transform her into a pleasure slave.
The handsome Lexander is well-known as a procurer of slaves for the pleasure house of Vidaris, where Marja is to be schooled in the arts of seduction and carnal delight. Though frightened, Marja grows to love her master and discovers her nature as a true submissive. But when Lexander grants Marja her freedom, she discovers that not all are so kind. Like the warriors who care nothing for those they conquer - and show no mercy to those who oppose them.
Now, Marja must accompany a fallen noblewoman on a perilous journey to save the land that's so precious to them. And Marja will have to use all of her strength, skills, and cunning to survive in the war that is about to engulf them all.
I really feel that the cover does a disservice to this book. The main character is neither blonde, nor is there that much bondage in the book. Nor do I even think she wears a corset like that.
Anyways, I rather enjoyed this book. It's set in a pseudo-Norse society with some other cultural influences via trade. Marja is sold for a few cows to Lexander as a pleasure slave. But...if she truly hadn't wanted to go, she wouldn't have. She has some free will here. It comes out that Marja is a submissive and gains pleasure from being submissive. Yet it is that aspect of her personality that saves the day. She isn't a doormat despite what one might think.
I think one reason I enjoyed this one so much was that it was very different. It required thinking a bit outside the box in terms of Marja. It reminded me a bit of reading Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart (which I plan to read again soon so I can move on to read the rest of the series). It's not quite as lush as Carey's book, but it's also not as dense. And while the story can be erotic in places, it isn't nearly as much as the cover would suggest. There aren't any gratuitous sex scenes here. But it's also not a tame book. There is rape and murder, although it all fits the book well. Horrid things happen, but it isn't entirely depressing, so don't fear.
And at the heart of the book is a rather nice romance. I wouldn't read the story for the romance alone, but it's always nice to know it's there.