I don’t believe in corporal punishment, but about half way through My Warrior I would’ve cheered had Holden de Ware taken Cambria Gavin over his knee and given her backside a thorough tanning. Unfortunately, Holden has the patience of Job and allowed Cambria to continue her bursts of idiocy throughout the book.
Angus Gavin, lord of Castle Blackhaugh and laird of his clan, has decided to surrender to the English in return for the right to keep his castle and lands amongst the Gavin people. His daughter Cambria throws a fit, but when push comes to shove she realizes her father is right and the Scots will not defeat the oncoming English. She reluctantly agrees to the surrender.
Sir Roger Fitzroi, the knight sent to settle the terms of surrender, has other plans. Fitzroi claims that Angus betrayed the agreement (this dastardly frame-up involves the death of Fitzroi’s own half-brother) and murders Angus. When Cambria awakes the next morning she finds her father dead and her men in chains. The person she blames is Fitzroi’s commander, Lord Holden de Ware. Holden knows that Fitzroi is untrustworthy and thinks the whole thing fishy, but without proof can do nothing So he leaves his younger brother Garth in charge of Blackhaugh and moves on.
Cambria vows revenge. When she confronts Holden in a full suit of armor, he thinks his challenger is a young knight testing his strength. He easily wins the match, but Cambria attacks him when he is unarmed, and is unmasked for her treachery. Holden doesn’t know what to do with the Scottish spitfire. He locks her up. She escapes and is caught by Fitzroi, who tries to rape her but passes out drunk. When Cambria wakes the next morning she finds Fitzroi dead. She is accused of his murder. Once again Holden locks her up. After he is wounded in an ambush, he is too weak to prevent her from using him as a hostage; she escapes and uses him to gain control of Blackhaugh. As soon as he’s well enough Holden overpowers Cambria and frees his men. Realizing this cycle can’t continue he offers Cambria marriage. That way she gets to keep her castle and he gets her. But this isn’t the end of the story. Cambria is not keen on marriage and there’s a villain or two out there trying to undermine Holden’s position as Lord of Blackhaugh, so there’s more fighting, more imprisonment, more escapes, etc.
Like I said, Cambria drove me nuts. Occasionally she’d have a burst of common sense, like supporting her father in his attempts to bring peace and security for his people, and shows brilliance in using Holden as a hostage to escape. But she never thinks before she acts, and all her good efforts are undone when she lets her temper get the better of her. Cambria is one of those people who eventually does the right thing, but only after everything else has failed. She honestly has good intentions, but messes up by not conferring with or listening to others. She lashes out and stomps her feet a lot to get her way.
Holden is a likable hero: patient, polite, and intelligent. He has the might to overcome all foes, but realizes peace and diplomacy are better. He lives by the rules of chivalry and would never lay a hand on a woman (hence no spanking, though he often contemplates throttling Cambria). Holden is a nice guy, just trying to make the best of a bad situation. Regrettably, Holden undergoes a personality switch in the final chapters which leads to my biggest gripe with the book.
The final chapters were marred by a padded ending that carried the book past its natural conclusion with a big misunderstanding, separation, and more idiocy on Cambria’s part. Though Cambria was annoying, she had real flaws and always acted in character; but having Holden suddenly go Neanderthal over an issue that was a non-issue up until he fell in love with his wife didn’t work. If Holden had stayed true to his character throughout and we hadn’t had one more hasty action on Cambria’s part, I would’ve enjoyed the story more.
I can’t whole-heartedly recommend My Warrior, but I can’t advise against reading it either. Campbell has a very easy-to-read style and shows promise as a writer and storyteller, but needs to keep away from padded endings and cyclical plots of capture and escape before her stories will be completely enjoyable.