Her Warrior King

Taming Her Irish Warrior
by Michelle Willingham
(Harlequin, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0373-29566-1
Taming Her Irish Warrior is another entry in the series about the MacEgan brothers but it clearly stands on its own. This is the tale of Ewan, the youngest of the brothers and the one who seems to have to make his own destiny.  Ewan needs to marry an heiress or woman with money to make his way. He wants to buy his own land and keep, but needs the resources. Set in 1200 AD, this medieval tale is rich in the tapestry of the times, yet, the love story is engaging.  The primary downside is the bride, as she seems a little out of her time.

Ewan has traveled from his Irish home to Ardennes where he hopes to compete for the hand of the Lady Katherine, second daughter of an Earl. She carries an inheritance that will allow him to buy some land. She is strong, yet gentle, and is a true lady. Her sister Honora St. Leger is also in residence. Ewan knows Honora from his fostering, when she too was at the home of his foster parents.  Honora is a headstrong widow and is back home with her father. But she has a home of her own. Her deceased husband divided his land between Honora and his brother, John of Credys. Honora loved her home and the people there but had a terrible marriage. Her husband accused her of being a cold fish, used the women of the castle in her place and flaunted them.  John is not much better. In fact, he threatened her and indicated he wants her for himself. He is cruel and has taken from the serfs but given nothing in return. Honora left and fears to return there, yet is tormented knowing that she must in order to help the people. To add to her problems, John is convinced that his grandmother gave her the secret to a hidden treasure and that she stole a gemstone that is highly valuable.

Ewan, meanwhile, has always liked Honora and supported her efforts to learn the art of warfare.  He never understood her need, but he would help her train and would hide her identity from the other men when she would join them during their workouts. Ewan and Honora share a bond of friendship. When Ewan inadvertently kisses her, they also realize that there is some sexual chemistry. Neither wants to acknowledge it and Ewan, in particular is determined to wed her sister. 

The story follows his efforts at winning the contest for her Lady Katherine’s hand, as well as a tournament. Honora is confronted by her father and told she too, must marry. To force her hand, he tells her she must pick first. Her heart tells her to pick Ewan yet she realizes that he wants her sister and has need of her fortune. Ewan and Honora are constantly thrown together.  Their love is inevitable but not without many complications.

Ewan is a good hero, one who has some doubts but has grown from a young brother always getting beaten by his brothers to a man who knows what he wants and knows what he has to do to get it. Honora, on the other hand, seems out of place at times. Why does she need to fight?  There are reasons given, but given the general attitude towards woman in 1200 AD, these just never ring true.  On the one hand, she would brave the world of men by wearing chain mail and participating in sword fights, yet she is afraid of John and clearly avoiding returning to her people who need her. This incongruity is never justified in my head as I read the tale.  This dampened my enthusiasm for the story but didn’t completely ruin it.

Taming Her Irish Warrior is misnamed.  Ewan is the one who does the taming and Honora is one who has to learn to stand up for what she believes it. Willingham has written a nice story that goes well with the series even though it may not be the strongest entry. 

--Shirley Lyons

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