Saturday, February 23, 2013

Early Review of The Chieftain (Return of the Highlanders, #4) by Margaret Mallory

  • Title: The Chieftain (The Return of the Highlanders)
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Format: Paperback, 448 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (February 26, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0446583111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446583114
  • Author's Website:
  • Notes: Quotes will need to be checked against the final copy as I read the ARC.

Twenty years ago his mother cursed his father after she found he had born a child with another woman...

"Mo Mhallachd ort! (My curse on you!) May your seed dry up, Donald Gallach, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, so that no woman shall bear you another child. May your sons already born by other woman die young. Three times 'round, and the spell is bound."

That was the day his life was changed. For magic has its price and his mother's own life was taken shortly thereafter. Some would say as payment. When his mother's body was found after she'd run away with another man, his father no longer looked at him with loving eyes. He cut him out of the line of succession for chieftain and no longer viewed him as his son but hers. As fate would have it, however, his mother's curse proved true and twenty years later he was the only one left to rule the clan.

Now Conner Gallach finds himself unprepared to step into the role of chieftain. He hasn't been trained or groomed for the role, but they needed a leader. Land has been stolen by a neighboring clan and things are in disrepair. He has his work cut out for him and among the things he must do is take a wife, but every decision, even choosing a wife, holds consequences for his clan. After what happened between his father and mother he is determined to be a true and faithful husband to his future wife and since becoming chieftain he's been celibate. He has no aspirations of making a love match.

 "The decision of who I marry is vital to the clan's future," Connor said when he grew tired of his friend's jests about his celibacy. "We must weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each possible alliance."

While marrying the daughter of another chieftain may sound like the right thing to do, sometimes  the best made match is where you least expect it. 

This is the fourth book in the Return of the Highlanders series. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, never fear. This one can be read by itself and I don't believe you'll feel lost.

Connor Gallach is an honorable man who loves his clan. As a child his life was upturned by what happened between his parents and as we all know, the events in our pasts can sometimes mold us and shape us into the people we become. Such is the case with Connor. He tries to do right by all and once those around him get to know him he tends to gain their loyalty. As he steps into his role, however, many judge him by his father's, brother's, and uncle's past misdeeds. Being raised separate from them was probably one of the best things that could have been done for the clan. He wasn't raised to think he was better than others, that others should bow to him, or that he was entitled to more just because of his birthright. He'd happily come to a friend's aid and put his life at risk.

Ilysa is the sister of Connor's best friend. She's secretly had a crush with Connor for years. She realizes when he takes over the clan that he needs some assistance and she quietly oversees the domestic tasks of the castle. She makes sure the staff does their job, creates menus and makes sure meals are served in timely fashion, and basically does all the tasks the Lady of the castle would do to ensure things run smoothly. Additionally, she's a healer and can tend to wounds and can occasionally foresee the future. While she does a lot, she's been raised to blend into the background. She dresses demurely to the point of wearing neutral colors and covering her hair. Connor hardly notices her until the day she locks him in his own dungeon. He becomes infuriated, as you can imagine, with her and tells her to leave which she promptly does. But Ilysa had a good reason for locking him up. She foresaw his death. And someone, possibly more than one, is trying to kill him. For someone is not happy with him being the chieftain. 

In some ways the book reminds me of Taylor Swift's song, You Belong With Me. Some of the lyrics just seem to fit the story perfectly,

'Can't you see that I'm the one who understands you?
Been here all along, so why can't you see?
You belong with me

Standing by and waiting at your back door
All this time, how could you not know?
Baby, you belong with me, you belong with me

You belong with me
Have you ever thought just maybe
You belong with me?
You belong with me'

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely adored the story and loved the characters. A nice blend of suspense, romance and drama. I enjoyed watching Connor finally notice the woman who had been there all along---Ilysa. I loved drama created by someone wanting to murder Connor and his wanting to do right by his clan. I enjoyed the inner conflict he suffered at not wishing to be like his father. What he never seemed to realize was that the mere fact that he worried about it, proved he wasn't. Additionally, I absolutely loved the twist at the end which I had an inkling about, but enjoyed just the same.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. A fabulous story that I gobbled up in one gulp. Mallory knows how to do romance right. Have I mentioned I loved it? *grin*

Order of the Series:

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