The Chieftain by Margaret Mallory

CHIEFTAIN

The Chieftain by Margaret Mallory
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (395 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

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?

Early sixteenth-century Isle of Skye, Scotland was not a place for the faint of heart, but I slipped in quietly one night for a sojourn with the MacDonald clan’s chieftain and his tried and true cohorts. Under their protection I had a sensory-loaded experience that sent the emotions sky high. The adventures and misadventures of Chieftain Conner and the wee Ilysa who runs his household kept me turning pages until late in the night. The Chieftain is spellbinding.

Ilysa and Conner, on their way to Trotternish to set up his household and hold off the clan’s enemies, stop by to see Tearag, the old seer. She tells Ilysa to remember she has the blood of the Sea Witch of legend and was born at midnight on the full moon so she has “The Sight”. Though not as strong as Tearag’s, it gets stronger where her heart is. Also, Tearag reminds Ilysa that she’s been taught the spell of protection that will gain in strength with the faery dance on Faery Hills that is near Trotternish. Ilysa must save Conner from danger until Beltane when his true bride will choose him.

Elysa, only nineteen and already a widow, runs a household efficiently with caring but with firm control in a ‘velvet glove’. Her mother taught her well. She also taught Ilysa to speak softly, to keep her gaze down, to draw no attention to herself, and had conditioned her pretty daughter to wear a loose sack dress and keep her hair totally covered at all times with a kerchief. With her efforts, the household seems to run with magic—then Conner in a fit of temper sends her away. Oh, My! What a mess!

Conner also listened to Tearag’s ramblings but gave little heed to them. His total focus is on securing the clan’s holdings to make them strong for generations to come. His personal desires are set aside for chieftain DUTY to his clan. One major duty is to marry to form a strong alliance with a clan well-equipped to do battle and is well financed. Love has no place in his plans. Little does he know that love cares for him and works to protect him whether he chose it or not.

Wresting Trotternish from the MacLeods and his half-uncle Black Hugh is Conner’s aim, but with a traitor and a possible assassin in the clan’s midst, danger stalks him on every side and as for finding a suitable bride that is another kettle of fish and a smelly on it is.

The plot and the many little sub-plots that are woven together with consummate skill by Margaret Mallory make The Chieftain a magnificent addition to this series. She weaves in the characters from the previous books in a captivating way that lets reader who have read the previous books catch up on what is going on in their lives, but The Chieftain definitely stands alone as Conner and Ilysa’s story—a fantastic, breathtaking tale with love scenes that sizzle, shimmer and glow with magic.

Some secondary characters that ratchet up the tension and suspense are Sorely, the old warrior who served under Conner’s father and later his brother; Lachlan, the acclaimed warrior that Ilysa sees danger and conflict in; and the ‘sour’ cook at Trotternish to mention a few. Of course, the would-be brides that invade Trotternish Castle create their own special type of tension. Black Hugh and the MacLeod press their claim to Trotternish to the limit with most unusual outcomes.

Margaret Mallory’s masterful storytelling and her exquisite writing style make the reader’s sojourn with Conner and Ilysa a memorable vicarious experience. The Chieftain is a keeper!

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