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Return of the Warrior by Kinley MacGregor

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Return of the Warrior
Brotherhood/MacAllisters #7

Kinley MacGregor
Medieval Romance
Published in 2005

H/h - Christian of Acre/Queen Adara
Setting: England/Elgedera/Taagaria, in the time of King Henry II.

Read in May, 2011.
My rating:

                                                                          [spoiler alert]

For some reasons, I'm not liking Christian as a hero. And, yes, the story is dragging quite a bit. I'm at chapter 10 and it's still not picking up pace. Frustrating in one word!

I read in A Dark Champion that Christian is a prince and his Brotherhood nick is The Abbot. He wears the monk's outfit but in reality he's anything but a monk! In this book, we get to know that his kingdom's name is Elgedera and why he has renounced his throne. Also, we get to know that he's been married since the age of 8, of which he had no idea about. So, when Queen Adara comes to consummate the marriage and take him back to her kingdom Taagaria, he's stunned. He finds her in the inn where he was staying, naked and waiting for him. Then she shows him the marriage contract, which he originally thought was a betrothal paper. But they had no time for doing anything since the tracker Adara hired to track him, comes back with the army of the villain king Selwyn called the Sesari to kill them both. They escape. On the way, they're attacked again and Christian sends Adara and her fool, Lutian to an abbey nearby. Christian is hurt in the skirmish but his friend Phantom (yes, he's introduced in this book) saves him. Adara takes care of Christian and tells him why it's very important that he consummate the marriage and father an heir. His distant uncle, Selwyn and his son Basilli are trying to attack her kingdom Taagaria and take it over. Christian needs to take care of her kingdom as a king.

This is trouble that brought Adara to this far land of England to find her wayward husband, whom she hasn't seen since that betrothal day. He was supposed to come and consummate the marriage 6 yrs later but he never did. In this time, Adara's brother was hanged by her father for treason and then her father died too. She virtually has no one to help her out. She thought it'd be easy but it certainly hasn't been so far (the naked seduction thing was Lutian's idea *rolls eyes*, about which I'll talk later). Her husband is not the type, kind and easy going, as she dreamed he'd be. Rather, he's a rugged, tough and life-hardened man. But, he's so handsome that her lovesick heart is full of yearning. Though she tries not to show it and act as a stern queen, she's anything but. Her fool, Lutian is her only close and dear friend.

In the abbey, they talk a lot and Christian gets to know that his loving parents were actually murdered. He's confused about many things, such as why did they leave him in that shabby and horrible abbey? He was abused there by the monks. Then one night, that abbey was also destroyed by fire with all the inhabitants except him, killed. Was that a murder attempt on his life? His grandfather and uncles were also killed, by each-other's hands and that's why Selwyn is now the king. So far, he'd kept very reluctant contact with him and that man knew his whereabouts! So, whatever Adara is telling, are they true? Christian does his best not to give in the consummation, since, even in his scarred state he wants love. But, after his life experiences in the abbey and then in Outremer and as a member of the Brotherhood, he can't afford that comfort in life. Then, Adara tells her she's still a virgin and Christian realized he can be easily charged with adultery and tries to apologize to her (I was kinda snorting here lolz). Adara, after knowing a few things from his past, was willing to go back and leave him in peace. But Christian decides to look for their (his and Phantom's) Welsh friend Ioan and hire mercenaries from him to fight for her kingdom, with every intention that he'll return after it's all settled. Gotta mention, Phantom's real name's known here, which is Velizarii. It was revealed that he's actually Christian's cousin, a fact he has no idea about. They basically met in Outremer. Phantom knew but never told Christian. Adara recognizes him and asks why didn't he, in answer Phantom tells her he has no intention of telling Christian, ever.

By the time they reach Ioan's, Adara's pretty frustrated with Christian, as he's still rebuffing her. It was fun as she decides it's better to look for a man here and sets her sight on Ioan. Christian is jealous on the spot and I was snorting more and more! Such a hypocrite! But, there were more funny scenes and banters between Christian, Phantom, Ioan and some other knights throughout the book. Adara and Christian fight again over the situation and then in a scene between Christian and Lutian, which I personally thought pretty lengthy and too predictable, Adara's real feelings for him is revealed. Lutian, the fool is actually no fool at all! He's fine but unsuspecting and hopelessly in love with Adara. He used to be a thief but to survive, acts as the queen's fool. Adara trusts him immensely thinking, of course, he's simple and tells him everything. I was like seriously? :s But, she did and the things Lutian tells Christian, I can't but think how pathetic it all sounded. She's been dreaming of this man, her husband all her life. She'd actually kept the things he used in their betrothal ceremony in a box and looks at them from time to time! But, I understood her need to be loved as Christian's parents (she remembered how they behaved with each-other, too!) but still, it was pathetic! Knowing all these, Christian finds her in her tent and consummates the marriage, huh? I was like WTF? ... Well, yah, if you want to term it that! It was clumsy and stupid and I notched Christian down in my estimation a lot more after this debacle. And, Adara actually tells Lutian about it. I was so irritated! Why does she have to go and tell him every freakin' thing that happens to her?!

After that there were some more funny scenes. Christian taking Lutian's 'help' to woo Adara, which he also bungled. The scene was funny anyway. Ioan's sister Corryn is another fun character to read. I really loved the way Ioan and Phantom teased Christian about Adara and love in general but eitherway, I'd love to see both of them lovesick just so that I can enjoy these two eating their own words! In the meantime, Lutian spreads the word that he mucked up the consummation, making Christian the fool of the day. I'm more than annoyed by Lutian and wanna kick his arse because he does all these willingly and not because he's simple in the head. Also, not knowing how he really is, Adara's always there to save Lutian from a well-deserved thrashing for his mischief.

Adara tells Christian that she wants to love him and let him love her. Christian will not let her but he has to show Adara that he's not a clumsy boor when it comes to bed skills and they make love again. Adara is impressed. But, the very next day, I found it hard to believe that she took all the talks of Christian's other women by others so easily, with Christian boasting about his wenching no less! I didn't care if he 'tried' to look guilty. I wasn't convinced that he meant any of this at all. Then again, Adara's been doing that all through the book, forgiving him for every single of his screw ups! I'm also not convinced about the reasons to why he's trying to avoid love. So far, I'm really irritated and not at all impressed by Christian or Adara and their boring reasons. :/

Well, this book was this close to being boring but for a few incidents that were really good. Last few chapters of this book are what is making me give it a 3.75. Sorry, but I didn't enjoy it enough to give it a 4 or 4+ stars.

Most of the book took place at their journey from London to Taagaria/Elgedera. In between, Christian and Adara's relationship blossomed yet they had their share of ups and downs. Love scenes (after the initial debacle) were quite good. The incidents I mentioned were really needed to shake the story a little bit. In the first one took place is Calais, where Adara was almost raped by two English men who just returned from some Outremer prison. Since Adara had dark hair-eyes and skin, they took her for a Saracen woman. I loved how Christian reacted to this and saved her. By that time, he had already fallen for Adara, though wouldn't quite confess it. Before that, Adara saw how Christian comforted one man, who was scared and lost. It explained a lot of things about him. Adara already knew that he has been the confessor to many dying man in the prison even in his tender age. Phantom tells her much more about him and his work.

After that, time went by as they keep traveling and in Venice, Adara finds out she's pregnant. Christian is a bit nervous about the whole thing, which led them to quarrel. I thought Adara was being a bit childish. Then again, she'd thrown quite a of bit childish tantrums throughout the book. I had a feeling that she needs to grow up. And, running to Lutian with every single problem was just too annoying for my choice! Then comes the second incident, as Sesari's get hold of Christian and stabs him fatally. He was unconscious for about a week and everyone was sure he'd die. But, of course, he comes back to life. I liked the way Adara took care of him and so on. I generally like this kind of scenes in any Romance. Then, Adara was taken to prison as it was said she's a witch and brought Christian back by her magic. Hooboy! I wasn't expecting this, took me totally by surprise and then, even as weak as Christian was, he saves with the help of Phantom, Ioan and the others.

The last 2/3 chapters held their journey to Elgedera and they stepped into a trap created by Selwyn, and Adara was kidnapped. Then with Phantom's help, Adara was rescued and Christian came up with this plan to get back his throne, also quite unexpected! Yah, I really did love the way the whole thing was resolved. I know, KM resolved the whole thing a bit too late as it was their journey and relationship with facts about each-other and the Brotherhood took the forefront of the story. Still, overall the book wasn't as gripping and fun as I hoped it'd be, so I was kinda disappointed.

Anyway, I REALLY hope to see books for Phantom (I hope Corryn and not Thera, Adara's cousin, would be his match), Ioan and a few other secondary characters I liked. I still don't know who the Scot and Pagan are. Many questions still remain...

The Brotherhood of Swords:

The Wraith is Simon of Ravenswood (later, of Anwyk), book "Midsummer's Knight" (novella) in Where's My Hero

The Widowmaker is Stryder of Blackmoor, book A Dark Champion

The Abbot is Christian of Acre, book Return of the Warrior

The Scot is ... ???

The Sorcerer/El Sahaar is Nassir, a Saracen man, no books yet.

Then there are two other additional men:

The Pagan is ... Still not sure, he was first featured in Taming the Scotsman.

The Phantom is Velizarii, another Prince of Elgedera and cousin to Christian, no books yet.

Another character, an assassin:

The Scorpion is ... Damien St. Cyr???, first featured in A Dark Champion.


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