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

The Chieftain CoverAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Forever

My Copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Pam

A Warrior’s Heart Connor, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, holds the fate of his people in his hands. Rival clans are plotting to take over his lands, and duty determines whom he will fight, trust . . . even marry. Seeking guidance, Connor turns to Ilysa, a young lass with the gift of foresight, who reveals an approaching danger-and a passion that burns only for him. But the warrior must make a powerful marriage alliance, and Ilysa’s bloodline is far too humble.

With her powers to heal and see evil where others cannot, beautiful Ilysa dresses plainly, speaks softly, and loves her chieftain from afar. Yet when Connor finally stokes the embers of desire that have so long burned within her, Ilysa feels bliss unlike any she’s ever known. Now as he is forced to place duty before happiness, Ilysa senses Connor is in grave peril. Can she find a way to prove she is the woman he needs by his side?

Conner MacDonald’s mother disappeared one night and when his father returned with her body he was told she was a beautiful woman that even in death commanded the attention of every man. He rarely saw his father after that as his father always thought that Conner’s older brother, Ragnall, was the one son that was fit to rule. However Ragnall was never able to rule as his father and brother were killed while Conner was fighting in France. When Conner returned from France their clan was near ruin, and since then, he has devoted his life to restoring the clan’s lands and making his people safe.

Conner and the other warriors recently captured Dunscaith Castle from the MacLeod’s and he is planning to move there, fortifying it with warriors to keep those in surrounding cottages safe. For the past few years Ilysa has managed his household; however her brother, Conner’s best friend Duncan does not want her moving there with him. Neither Ilysa nor Conner see a problem since soon Conner will take a wife that can bring a powerful alliance to the marriage and Ilysa will return to Duncan’s home and marry another.

Ilysa does move with Conner despite her brother’s misgivings and makes the castle a comfortable home. And Conner is happy here, despite the challenges he faces. His father had rarely brought him to this castle and he was never in his chambers so does not have any bad memories. However the MacLeod’s clan and Hugh and his men separately want to see Conner dead so he must take care.

As Conner assembles his warriors in his new home, he must select a captain of his guard, Sorely, who served his father and brother is getting older and a new name has been mentioned, of a man who was a hero for fighting the MacLeod’s – Lachlan of Lealt. However Lachlan is hiding several secrets when he arrives, something Ilysa realizes right away as she sees darkness surrounding him. She feels the fight that is within him.

As Conner struggles with Hugh and the MacLeod’s he is also struggling with Ilysa and his feelings. There are several times she uses The Sight and warns him of danger but he is not ready to believe her and when she makes him miss a meeting with Hugh because she “sees” the risk, he is angry and tells her to leave.

Lachlan visits his sister and finds out that Conner has helped the family survive an attack. He struggles, how can Lachlan satisfy his father’s right to vengeance and also protect his clan? Lachlan tells Ilysa she is right about Conner when he sees her again and tells her that she can trust him now. However he thinks there is someone else spying for Hugh and plans to find out who it is.

Conner and Ilysa’s feelings are tested when he is lead to believe she is meeting an enemy in the faery glen; and what she does fine is something she never expected. Everything comes to a head when the traitor is uncovered, the castle and clan are attacked, Ilysa wants to meet Conner in an old church and alliances are made.

I hope Ms Mallory continues this series as these are wonderful stories filled with Highland lore, beauty, danger and intrigue. I read all four almost back to back and enjoyed each book in the series. The four Highlanders are like brothers and have deep feelings for each other. The women they love are just as brave and fierce as they are. I enjoyed the romance between Conner and Ilysa as they struggled with what they know is good for the clan however not good for them. The Chieftain is always thinking that the clan and his people come first yet it is heartbreaking to watch the couple so deeply in love, struggle. The other characters are enjoyable to see throughout the series and the continued story arc keeps you turning the pages until the end.

I give The Chieftain by Margaret Mallory 4 stars!

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