In The Warrior’s Bed by Mary Wine
(Brava, $14.00, R) ISBN 978-0-7582-3465-1
Cullen McJames is in a bad situation, but he thinks he knows exactly how to solve it in In The Warrior’s Bed.

Laird Erik McQuade is a hard, selfish, horrible man, and the nemesis of Cullen’s clan.  McQuade has made life hard for the neighboring McJames clan, continuously raiding and feuding with them.  After a chance meeting with McQuade’s only daughter, Bronwyn, Cullen can’t stop thinking about her and won’t have a chance to.  After catching Cullen and Bronwyn’s interaction, McQuade tells the Court of Scotland that Cullen is a blackguard who has left his daughter in disgrace.  The King bids Cullen to come to Court to address the charges the McQuade has made.  Cullen does, and obtains the King’s blessing to marry Bronwyn and attempt to end the feud between the clans.

While Cullen has permission to wed Bronwyn from the monarchy, he hasn’t asked for the McQuade’s blessing and Bronwyn hasn’t heard anything about it.  So Cullen steals Bronwyn out of her home and drags her through the long journey back to McJames land.  Bronwyn is a strong woman, accustomed to taking care of herself, and she immediately begins planning her escape from Cullen.  She’s always received harsh treatment from her father and two of her brothers because of her sex, and she doesn’t expect better treatment from her new husband, who has stolen her from her home and is a rival clansman to boot.

What Bronwyn doesn’t know is that much of her father’s distaste for her is mostly due to the land he married her mother for, only to discover it was bound to her female descendents after her death, namely Bronwyn.  So, the McQuade has determined that Bronwyn can never marry and the land will stay within the McQuade stronghold. When McQuade finds out that Cullen has stolen his daughter and therefore his land, he’s enraged and willing to do anything to get Bronwyn back.

Bronwyn, meanwhile, is surprised by her new husband’s gallantry and tenderness.  Even though he’s often overprotective and somewhat non-trusting, he tries his best to make Bronwyn feel at home. Just as the new couple starts to built a tenuous bond of trust and attraction, they realize that the McQuades will stop at nothing to steal back their property, and the feud that was supposed to end peacefully may now become more violent and volatile than ever before.

In The Warrior’s Bed is a much recommended, well-written escape and I advise you to pick up a copy and spend the weekend with Cullen and Bronwyn.

The McJames clan is full of boisterous, entertaining characters, and the bulk of the story takes place in the well-populated and beautifully expressed McJames stronghold.  While the McJames brothers’ stories began with In Bed With A Stranger, this book stands very well on its own.  I absolutely loved the detailed descriptions of Scotland, and most of all the daily activities and everyday life details that were included in the tale. 

Cullen is a definitive alpha male, but tenderness and a longing for a family of his own soften his rough edges enough to make him extremely attractive.  Cullen’s rigid sense of honor, duty, and loyalty are suited to his station but also traits that make Bronwyn fall in love with him. 

Bronwyn’s assertive nature could have seemed out of date in this historical tale but it’s tempered by her understanding of her duty, first to her father and later to Cullen.  Bronwyn completely avoids the silly heroine traps that can happen in this type of historical tale, and it makes her likeable and understandable. 

The McQuade and his sons are scary characters, and their macho, masochistic views resonate as a threat throughout the background of the tale. 

In The Warrior’s Bed is a great romp through the Highlands in a very different time, and it’s worth exploring from the comfort of your couch. 

--Amy Wroblewsky

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