McCabe Trilogy, Book #3
Heat Factor: It’s Maya Banks, so yeah, there’s a lot of the sex
Character Chemistry: He acts from duty, she acts from being annoyed
Plot: Arranged marriage, clan takeover, battle of wills
Overall: If you like a Highlander bodice ripper, you’ll probably like this
Here we veer into solid bodice ripper territory. Caelen McCabe has stepped in to marry Rionna McDonald after his brother Alaric married someone else. Caelen has some emotional baggage because when he was young, he fell in love and the result was his clan being slaughtered, his father and sister-in-law murdered. As one does, he has become an emotional iceberg. And, true to all of the standards of medieval romance, Caelen thinks he can keep his woman in line. We therefore experience some uncomfortable moments, like a very uncomfortable, very public kiss in the great hall. Caelen also dresses down Rionna in public.
Rionna has been able to live as she likes for all of her life. She dresses like a man and fights like a warrior. She’s okay with this marriage for the sake of alliance, and she thinks that Caelen will be good for her clan, but ay ay ay! This guy needs to learn a little bit about leading with empathy. But as a product of his time (presumably), he has to show his strength by never admitting to weakness. Or something. So Rionna has dreamed of being a warrior princess who ends her days by changing into her beautiful gowns and being adored by her warrior prince. Because sometimes you gotta be a badass but you also like nice things.
This book is not going to be for everyone. Caelen is not a sympathetic hero. He’s a gentle lover and he cares about the well-being of Rionna, although some of his demonstrations are more controlling than caring. He’s no peach. He’s a full blown medieval laird romantic hero. He’s aggressive and emotionally repressed. He brooks no opposition. He wakes Rionna up with sex. She’s into it, but still. Consent? Eh? So yeah, not everyone’s cup of tea, this hero.
Rionna is also not going to be for everyone. She is introduced to us in earlier books as a warrior woman, and we get a taste of that early in this book, but Rionna becomes a much more round character with more interests and depth than just being an angsty, out-of-time woman who has to prove her value as a warrior absent any other qualities that might be valuable in a leader. So readers who are looking for Boadicea should continue to look.
The McCabe trilogy ends with this book. That means we’re also finally resolving the whole war with Laird Bad Man that’s morphed from just a conflict between clans to a full blown rebellion against the king. Frankly, I thought Rionna’s involvement in the resolution was spectacular, and if you’ve read any of my reviews of books with heroines who are supposed to be totally badass but end up being ridiculous, illogical fluffs, you’ll understand that I appreciate an actual badass. Short story, this whole narrative was ridiculous as a bodice ripper should be, but it was also enjoyable as only a bodice ripper can be.
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