Title: The Warrior
Author: Margaret Mallory
Series: Return of the Highlanders,
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Review copy from publisher
“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.”
The warrior is the third book in the Return of the Highlanders series by Margaret Mallory.
Born a bastard Duncan MacDonald always knew his place in life, but this didn’t stop him for falling in love with his chieftain’s daughter, Moira.
Duncan and Moira are enjoying their young love but when they are discovered Duncan is given two options, abandon the clan where his mother and little sister live or go with the chieftain’s younger son, Connor to France to fight in the war. Duncan chooses the war; he thinks if he can prove himself as a great warrior he may have a chance with Moira. What Duncan didn’t know was that his chieftain had other plans; soon after he leaves for Europe Moira is forced to marry another man; he receives this news couple of months after his departure.
After five years of battling Duncan returns to the Isle of Skye with his three best friends, Ian, Alex and Connor. They find their clan almost in ruin and the chieftain dead. Now Connor is the new chieftain.
After two years of many conflicts and fights against Connor’s uncle, Hugh Dubh, who wants to take the lands as his own, they are able to put the clan together and after proving his worth in battle, Duncan is the new captain of the chieftain’s guard.
Without a moment of respite they haven’t been able to check on Moira, but when Tearlag, the clan’s seer, has a vision in which Moira’s life is in danger Connor orders Duncan to go in his name and see her, to verify everything is well with her. The last thing Duncan wants is to see the love of his life with another man, but he can’t say no to his chieftain and also worries because Tearlag is always right in her visions.
Moira MacDonald has suffered for seven years. She was not only forced to marry a man (Sean) while loving another, but without knowing, her father married her to a very abusive man. If that wasn’t enough she has had to keep the secret that her son, Ragnell, is not her husband’s son, but Duncan’s.
Lately Sean is more abusive than ever and is even using Ragnell to make her submit. Moira is desperate and looking for a way out, after a fail attempt to escape, as an act of revenge Sean sends Ragnell to be fostered by the MacDonald’s enemy clan.
Things get more complicated for Moira when Duncan arrives to visit her and meets Sean. Ragnell is the live copy of Duncan; after meeting Duncan Sean realizes Moira’s deception.
Duncan jealousy didn’t let him see the clear signs of Moira’s situation and couple of minutes after the meeting he leaves ready to go back to Skye.
Sean is enraged for Moira’s deception and starts to beat her without remorse, he is ready to kill her but by luck Moira finds a dagger and kills Sean in self defense.
After thinking with a cold head Duncan realizes that Moira was trying to hide something, before departing he decides to check once more on her and infiltrates the castle. When he finds Moira she is battered and cover in blood, hers and Sean’s. Not thinking twice he takes Moira with him and together they escape to Skye; but the problems are now just starting, Sean’s clans mates want Moira to pay for Sean’s death and their son’s is in their enemies hands, a son Duncan doesn’t know exist.
I’ve been looking forward to this book since the moment I met Duncan in The Guardian (first book of the series) and though I liked Duncan very much I can’t say the same about Moira.
Duncan is the same courageous man with many insecurities but with a golden heart. Because of his background he doesn’t think he deserves a woman like Moira but does his best to be the man he thinks she deserves.
I loved his reaction when he realizes he has a son, I loved the way he was with Ragnall.
Moira, ok, where to start with her. When we first met her in the prologue she is a young “princess”. I couldn’t feel her love for Duncan; it felt more like she was with him because he was prohibited. She felt capricious and spoiled and because of her behavior I can easily understand why it was so difficult for Duncan to think that what he could offer her would be enough for her.
I forgive Moira many things because of what she had to endure next to Sean but sometimes her doubts and lies were getting the best of me. I wish she had been more honest with Duncan from the beginning.
At the end she was a lot better and became the woman Duncan deserved.
Their romance was a turbulent one, where many secrets were kept and trust was scarce. Their attraction was there from page one, but first they needed to believe in themselves to be able to be together.
One character I really liked was their son Ragnell. I loved how at his young age he was so protective of his mother; I also loved how he accepted Duncan as his father.
We also see characters from previous books, we see where Ian and Alex are with his families, and we also see Connor trying to do his best for the clan and how he is considering who he should marry to benefit the clan. We also see Duncan’s sister, Ilysa, who we all know is in love with Connor, but with a background as Duncan’s is impossible a chieftain will choose a woman like her as his wife.
I love how Mrs. Mallory writing feels lyric and poetic and takes me to a different place where I can dream about men in kilts and brave women by their side.
Even though I didn’t love The Warrior as I loved previous books I can honestly say that I enjoyed it very much. Now I’m looking forward to February 26th, 2013 to the release of Connor’s book, The Chieftain. I can’t wait to read his and Ilysa’s story.
My Verdict: 4 Stars
Other books in the series
The Chieftain (February 26th, 2013)
Other reviews Goodreads