The Chieftain by Margaret Mallory
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Return of the Highlanders #4
Publication Date: February 26th 2013
Page Count: 448
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
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.
A Warrior's Heart
Connor, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, holds the fate of his people in his hands. Rival clans are plotting to take over his lands, and duty determines whom he will fight, trust . . . even marry. Seeking guidance, Connor turns to Ilysa, a young lass with the gift of foresight, who reveals an approaching danger-and a passion that burns only for him. But the warrior must make a powerful marriage alliance, and Ilysa's bloodline is far too humble.
With her powers to heal and see evil where others cannot, beautiful Ilysa dresses plainly, speaks softly, and loves her chieftain from afar. Yet when Connor finally stokes the embers of desire that have so long burned within her, Ilysa feels bliss unlike any she's ever known. Now as he is forced to place duty before happiness, Ilysa senses Connor is in grave peril. Can she find a way to prove she is the woman he needs by his side?
Another triumph for Margaret Mallory.
So here we are with the fourth (and final?) story in this wonderful Scottish Romance series, featuring the last of the returning warriors, the chieftain himself, Connor MacDonald. I had a great time with this book; watching the stoic and steadfast leader finally setting out on his way to his own slice of Happily Ever After. Especially after seeing him put duty first for so long. It can't have been easy watching his three closest friends fall hopelessly in love with their new wives while he adamantly went without so as to be sure he had no children with chieftain's blood out of wedlock. But I have to say, after waiting so long, he really couldn't have picked a more worthy heroine to fall for than young Ilysa.
Ilysa is an interesting character because she's very quiet, timid, shy and rather plain-looking. She's also fierce, loyal, brave, intelligent and beautiful. How can she be both of those things at the same time? Well, you'll have to read it yourself for the long version, but let's just say she was taught to go unnoticed to keep herself safe, and it worked! For the first nineteen years of her life, it worked brilliantly. Too well, in fact. She was known and liked by all as Duncan's baby sister, and the person who runs Connor's household while he has no wife to do so for him. Certainly no one would ever have a bad word to say about her, but neither would they have much of anything else to say, either. She mostly just blended into the background, getting things done, going unnoticed, wearing her drab, shapeless gowns, her ugly headcoverings and her quiet, unassuming nature like a shield. Until one day, after a bit of a makeover from past female characters in the series who want to see her as happily married as they are, she does get noticed. A lot! Big, big, BIG much! And it was fabulous to read! Who doesn't love a makeover scene, seriously? It just appeals to the fairytale lover in me, whenever there's a "Cinderella moment." I don't care how often they are used, I still enjoy them every single time.
But, even with this new revelation, things don't go as smoothly as you might think. Connor has had strict plans in place for his marriage for many years. As part of his "duty first" attitude, he sees his marriage as just another thing he has to do with his clan's future and prosperity as the only deciding factor. Love is for people who aren't in charge of the welfare of hundreds of people. Not for men such as him. Or is it?
(I'll give you a clue: this is a romance novel *wink*)
The really great thing about this particular series—aside from the gorgeous, heart-pounding romances—is the relationship between the four warriors at the heart of it. These four men—who are cousins, childhood friends, and bothers in arms in the real sense of the phrase—are certainly worthy of the title highland hero. I adore Mallory's brand of hot Scot, I really do, and I'd be very happy to hear if this series was to be extended. What about Lachlan's story? Or Niall's? I just don't feel ready to leave these lovely characters yet, so I will sit with my fingers and toes crossed, wishing and hoping for more!
4.5 Stars ★★★★1/2
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.