cover image Once a Warrior

Once a Warrior

Karyn Monk. Fanfare, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-553-57422-7

The Scottish Highlands during the 13th century were not an easy place for a woman to live alone. Which is why Ariella MacKendrick is anxious. Her father was cut down by ruthless murderers while waiting for help from Malcolm McFane, the legendary ""Black Wolf."" When he never shows up, an angry Ariella sets out to find the Black Wolf and force him to help. What she finds is a pathetic, scarred, drunkard banished from his own clan and living in deplorable conditions. However, once a warrior, always a warrior, and, after he's sobered up, Malcolm proves himself an impressive fighter. Ariella decides to bribe Malcolm to teach her clan to defend themselves while she continues her search for the perfect warrior to be laird of her clan and her husband. Both protagonists are blind to each other's strengths and desires. It takes an invasion, a betrayal and a little magic for both to open their eyes and their hearts, and vanquish the enemy. Monk (The Rebel and the Redcoat) grips the reader with her powerful images of Scotland and of war, witty dialogue, strong characters and Arthurian undertones. There are a few spots where jarring reality intrudes, but the saving grace of this book is the hero, a man who wants to be left alone but who can't help following his destiny. (May)