Cover image, The Warrior by Margaret Mallory
What’s better than a shirtless Highlander wielding a giant sword? Not a whole lot, though cookies do come close. I was a little worried about accepting this book for review. I usually try to avoid romances that feature warrior-type hero characters. All that swaggering testosterone is lost on me. But the first two books in this series were so well regarded that I opted not to judge the book by its cover and marketing blurb. I’m glad I made that decision and read this book, because it’s a lot of fun.
Speaking of the blurb (from Goodreads):
Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can’t prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.
From the Isle of Skye to the battlefields of France, Duncan MacDonald has never escaped the memory of the true love he left behind. Deemed unworthy of a chieftain’s daughter, Duncan abandoned the lovely Moira to prove his worth in battle. Now, when called upon to rescue her from a rival clan, one thing is certain: Moira’s pull on his heart is stronger than ever.
Bartered away in marriage to a violent man, Moira will do anything to ensure she and her son survive. When a rugged warrior arrives to save her, the desperate beauty thinks her prayers have been answered—until she realizes it’s Duncan. The man who once broke her heart is now her only hope. Moira vows never again to give herself—or reveal her secrets—to the fierce warrior, but as they race across the sea, danger and desire draw them ever closer.
From page one, I was able to connect to Duncan’s character (but I had a difficult time connecting with Moira) and felt invested in his story. Because I felt emotionally vested in the story, it was easy for me to feel immersed in the world – sixteenth century Scotland – and to get caught up in all the adventure of the very active plot. This story gives Duncan many opportunities to strap on his warrior blade and go out to do manly things, and that’s fun, but Duncan’s a classic warrior-poet with a powerful soft side. Here’s a man who will write a song for you, pick wildflowers and weave them into a wreath for you, massage your feet, spoon with you without complaint, etc. So, yeah, Duncan’s got a lot of love to give, and I’m enough of a sap that I loved reading about him giving all that love to Moira.
I got a little bit annoyed at some of the repetitious fights between Moira and Duncan.
Moira: “You treat me like a child!”
Duncan: “I just want to love you and take care of you!”
Moira: “I can take care of myself!”
Duncan: “Really? You fell into a ravine!”
“Moira: “So?! I can still do it, and you’re stifling me!”
Duncan: “But I love you!” (not actual quotes from the book, by the way)
There were pages and pages of that, and it might be a realistic depiction of the fights many couples have, but that doesn’t mean it was pleasant for me to read. Other readers might find the spats entertaining–I happen to be easily annoyed by bickering in novels–especially because these fights show Moira to be a strong heroine who is not about to sit around waiting to be saved. At any rate, I was relieved that the story picked back up fairly quickly, and Moira grew up a little bit, and Duncan realized that Moira was more important than his masculine pride, and I went back to being a seriously happy reader with an emotionally fulfilling tale.
Aside from the lovers’ spats, the pacing of this book is very good. I don’t usually enjoy when villain scenes are intercut into the main heroic action of a book, but I liked it here, probably because those scenes were very short and took the place of the lengthy exposition scenes that would have been required in their stead. It helped that the villains in this piece are relatives of the major characters and shared a connection with those characters beyond the “meanwhile in the demon lair, evil is brewing…” interruptions. I was a little bit thrown by the Scots Gaelic references (actually, more accurate to say I was thrown by the interrupting English translations), but I appreciated how they added to the highland ambiance of the piece.
Although it took me a while to develop a connection with Moira, once I did, I really liked her. Moira is the daughter of a chieftain, and she’s very spoiled, confident, and carefree in the beginning. After her marriage, she has time to repent her youth a bit and to wish that she had been taught some basic survival skills. Throughout the second half of the book, Moira learns a lot and is able to support her argument that she is not a helpless waif.
Bottom line: lovers of highland romances should go nutty for this one, as should anyone who desires an emotional love story featuring a fantastic hero and a flawed but ultimately redeemed (and very strong) heroine. Although this book is the third book in a series, it works very well as a stand-alone novel (and I would know: I haven’t read the first two books of this series). Of course, you may not even need a reason to read this story beyond the shirtless, kilted Highlander shown on the cover (I don’t judge).
That’s right! The publisher (Forever) has generously agreed to host this giveaway and will send one print copy of The Warrior to two lucky commenters, chosen at random (thank you, random.org). There are, of course, some rules:
- This giveaway is limited to US residents only (sorry!).
- You must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
- You must comment on this post in order to qualify. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a topic.
- You must be willing to provide your mailing address in order to receive your copy of the book.
- The giveaway will run through 11:59 PM pacific time on Monday, November 12. I will announce the winners on Tuesday, November 13.
Please leave a comment about your favorite kinds of characters (or your favorite specific characters), regardless of what genre you normally read. So much of one’s enjoyment from a book derives from the connection one is able to make with a book’s characters. As always, please feel free to ignore my arbitrarily chosen topic in favor of one that is more interesting to you.
The Warrior was released on October 30, 2012 as a mass market paperback and eBook from Forever/Grand Central Publishing. If you are interested in the book, please visit its page on Goodreads here. Margaret Mallory is on Twitter (@MargaretMallory), so feel free to follow if you’re into that whole Twitter thing.
* FTC Disclaimer – I received an e-galley of this book from Forever/Grand Central Publishing through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. *