Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Shadow Warrior by Jen Holling

Book Description:
Acclaimed author Jen Holling presents the stunning final novel in her sensual trilogy, set against the windswept hills of Scotland, about a trio of sisters with witchcraft -- and passion -- in their blood.

Rose, the youngest of the MacDonell sisters, is more concerned with her father's mysterious illness than with her impending marriage to her childhood sweetheart. A gifted but frustrated healer, she decides to beg help from William MacKay -- a reclusive laird who is renowned not only for his ferocity, but also for his healing powers. Denied entry to his fortress in the cold, harsh mountains of the far northwestern highlands, Rose uses cunning to force her way in, and William is duly intrigued with this bold slip of a girl. But securing his help may not be enough to save Rose's father. For there is something darker at work in the glen, something more powerful than William's and Rose's magic combined, and only the soul-deep passion that shadows their mutual desire can help their love prevail.

This is the third and last of the series about the three young beautiful sisters who are witches and are trying to figure out what is killing their father, who has married them off (or planning to) to different lairds throughout Scotland to keep them safe once he's gone. I was pleasantly surprised with this one, it was much better than I thought it would be. I found the first two to be a little dull, but this one made up for it with an interesting twist. It becomes obvious very soon in this book that this particular daughter, Rose, is not destined to marry the man she has been betrothed to.

In search of a great healer she's heard about in the North, she set out to his castle to get him to come and try and cure her father. In a case of mistaken identity, she meets William, who is the healer. At first we think he's older than he really is, since he has a lot of gray hair, but that winds up being a bi-product of his ability to heal people by setting his hands on them and taking their illness into himself. He then becomes ill for a day or two because of this. This is not unlike the character in Stephen King's The Green Mile and also the heroine in the book, A Rogue in a Kilt (that I've reviewed earlier here.) It seems to be a popular idea!

Anyway, Rose and William have a mutual sexual attraction which they fight at first (naturally, since she is betrothed to someone else), but eventually they give in and kiss, etc. but the sexual tension throughout the book is very good until they consummate their love.

Rose is no ordinary heroine, she has a lot of baggage. Sent away for safety when she was 8, after her mother was burned as a witch, she was sexually abused as a child by her foster father, and then later has an affair with his son. So this is no blushing virgin in this story - but it only gives her character more depth and I felt much more empathy for her. I was glad that William understood when she told him about it, but I do think he took it with a bit too much alacrity, considering the times (late 1500's). William seemed to be just a bit too wise to me, but I liked him as a hero. He's a laird, but not your typical alpha male, bulging muscles, 'do it my way or else' kind of guy. He's tall and handsome, despite his gray hair. He is hated by his villagers and he must keep himself hidden from them - not your typical hero!

Eventually, Rose gets him to come back to her castle to see if he can cure her father. As I suspected in the last book, the villain in the book is obvious, and his methods are too. William can't cure the father right away, but a lot happens here at the castle. Rose's betrothed comes to visit as well, and it turns out that he and William already hate each other, and there's an obvious jealousy between them for Rose as well. Her fiance is a jerk, btw.

I won't spoil the ending, but it was a pretty good wind up of the trilogy and this book made up for the dullness of the last one. It brought all the characters together and tied up all the loose ends with a minimum of angst and it was pretty exciting wondering how William and his daughter and brother were going to get out of trouble (I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it.) This was by far the most exciting of the books!

If you like witches and romance give it a try. 3.5/5

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