Monday, February 25, 2013

THE CHIEFTAIN by Margaret Mallory

Publisher:   Forever
Date published:   February 26, 2013
ISBN:  978-0446583114
Genre:   Historical Romance
Book format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Bit by bit Chieftain Connor MacDonald has secured his clan’s lands. Whether taken by rival clans or frittered away by his own family, with the help of his cousins Alex and Ian and lifelong friend, Duncan, he has regained much of what was lost when his father and brother died. Now one more holding must be taken and secured to cement his place. With an on going uprising against the English and clan alliances tenuous Connor determines that the best way to secure Trotternish is by a strong marital alliance. Connor is secure in himself and confident in his abilities. He just isn’t quite sure how to pick the right wife. Perhaps the problem is not so much in choosing one but in accepting the one who holds his heart.

Ilysa, Duncan’s sister, has loved Connor her whole life. He held her heart from childhood and despite knowing they can never wed, she cannot silence her heart’s call for him. Even when Connor and his compatriots went to France to fight, he held her heart. And now, even knowing he will soon choose an appropriate wife, she follows her heart. When Connor takes Trotternish Ilysa goes with him to manage his home until that wife arrives.

Connor accepts Ilysa’s place in his life. He knows he must tread carefully because her brother will accept nothing less than respect for her. Bit by bit Connor finds he relies on Ilysa’s counsel until she first casts aspersions on the woman he chooses to wed and then, she imprisons him in his own castle. Worse, it begins to appear that Ilysa may be connected to the traitor that thwarts Connor’s every step toward finally securing his place as Chieftain. Can true love find its way despite insurmountable odds?

I have totally enjoyed Margaret Mallory’s Return of the Highlanders series. Each book from THE GUARDIAN, to THE SINNER, to THE WARRIOR has gotten better and better. I suspected THE WARRIOR would be a tough act to follow but in THE CHIEFTAIN, Ms. Mallory comes very close. It’s not the writing or the story that makes THE WARRIOR a tiny bit better, it’s the character Duncan. There’s just for something about him that captured my heart. That said, Connor has much to recommend him. Despite the fact that he is the Chieftain and by rights should be guarded from harm at all times, time and again he puts himself in danger to help those less strong. He is a complex character that is at once a man of his time, a romantic hero and a brave warrior. His development across the series and in particular in THE CHIEFTAIN is well done.

Ms. Mallory gives her readers some marvellous secondary characters as well.  At the end of THE WARRIOR I clamoured for Niall and James to have their own stories. Well, after reading THE CHIEFTAIN I now want Lachlan’s story too. The four Highlanders have returned home, secured their places and found their brides, but with the complexities of the times and MacDonald clan surely there are at least three more stories to tell and who better than Niall, James and Lachlan’s stories?

Each book in the Return of the Highlanders series is a stand alone and they do not have to be read in any order because of how well Ms. Mallory delivers any needed backstory and how fully she develops each character.  Reading them in order isn’t necessary but it does help to get to the know each character. No matter what order you read them this is one series you do not want to miss.

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