Her Irish Warrior by Michelle Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I felt as though I traveled back to medieval Ireland when I read this book, which is definitely a plus for this history buff. Ireland in the Normal conquest is an under-utilized setting. I felt as though I learned some things about the ancient Irish, which is always good, especially when the lesson comes in an enjoyable story.
Bevan is a man who lost much of what he loved in his life. His beloved daughter dead from fever, and his wife burned to death in a Norman raid. And his land appropriated by some of the Norman invaders. He is determined to take his keep and lands back, and that’s how he meets Genevieve. Genevieve is on the run from her betrothed, a man who beats and abuses her physically. She has smuggled missives back to her father in England, but she can’t wait any longer to be rescued, sure that Hugh will kill her or rape her soon. She begs the rough-looking Irish warrior she encounters to save her, but he walks away (he is afraid he will endanger his mission and his men). Later on, he breaks into the keep (having determined he will help the woman), and is captured. Genevieve helps to free him, and gets a beating from her betrothed for her trouble, which Bevan reacts to by beating up Sir Hugh. Her only choice is to flee with the Irish warrior.
Bevan has no desire for another woman, even one as beautiful and as brave as Genevieve, although she is one of the hated Normans. He buried his heart with his beloved wife Fiona, and he is determined to remain true to her. But he cannot stand to see a woman be beaten. Bevan asserts that no honorable Irishman would lay a hand on a woman, and it’s just another reason to despise the Normans. He offers her safe passage back to England to her parents, although Genevieve fears that Bevan will fight against her father and his men, for the keep that is now her dowry.
Bevan is the brother of one of the kings of Ireland. There is a high king and smaller kings (probably what would be considered a duke or lesser peer in England). His brother, King Patrick, has determined to make a marriage alliance with Genevieve’s family. Bevan ends up between a rock and a hard place, especially when England’s King Henry and the High King of Ireland agree to the match. Either that or the evil Sir Hugh will gain his lands and Genevieve as his wife, and will surely kill her with his brutality. Genevieve agrees to the marriage, even knowing that Bevan cannot love her the way she wishes, and does not want a real marriage with her, only the alliance. However, Bevan cannot keep her heart closed to the loving, courageous woman he married.
My thoughts on this story:
I had mixed feelings about Bevan. He was a very honorable man, capable of loving very deeply. I truly respected his faithfulness to his wife. You don’t see that many heroes who remain devoted to their departed spouses the way he does. However, I wish he hadn’t taken so long to open his heart to Genevieve. It’s clear that she is a really good woman for him, and his younger brother Ewan actually thinks she’s more devoted and loves him more than Fiona ever did. This is one of those books where the character has this false perfect image of their past spouse that the hero or heroine has to break past. It made me sad how Bevan hurt Genevieve again and again by pushing her away. Initially, Genevieve is afraid of men after how Hugh beat her and hurt her, but Bevan is kind and takes care of her so well, that he works his way into her heart. Now Genevieve has to break down the walls around Bevan’s heart, and show him that he can love again.
This was a good book. I found myself sucked in from the beginning. Genevieve and Bevan had excellent chemistry. I found Hugh to be a despicable villain, and I wanted him to get his just deserts, after seeing him beating and hurting Genevieve the way he did. I was afraid that her father would take Hugh’s side, but fortunately, he didn’t, standing by his daughter and believing her when she said Hugh was abusing her. I can’t imagine a father who would willingly let his daughter get abused by a man, so I was glad Genevieve’s father wasn’t like that.
I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about medieval Ireland, which had some customs and ways of looking at things that were distinct from England at this time. I liked both of the characters. The romance between Genevieve and Bevan was engaging, and I felt their emotional struggles and anguish. It was good to see Bevan grow to acknowledge his feelings for Genevieve and make those gestures she badly needed. He had to learn that his love for Fiona didn’t have to close his heart to loving again. I’m looking forward to reading about the other MacEgan brothers, particularly Ewan. I have a feeling he’s going to grow up to be quite a warrior. It should be interesting to see the woman he ends up with.
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