Desert Isle Keeper
The Irish Warrior
So far I’ve been impressed with Kris Kennedy’s historical romances: I enjoyed The Conqueror and I completely fell for The Irish Warrior. The latter is a rich, meaty, action/adventure historical with a non-jerk alpha male and a gritty, smart heroine – almost an old-school romance with nary a ripped bodice in sight.
Lord Rardove, a serious bad guy in the form of an English baron in Ireland, thinks he has the ultimate weapon in the making. He possesses the legendary Wishme mollusks which make a stunning blue dye that could make a man richer than his wildest dreams, but also produce an extremely powerful explosive. Now, all he needs is a dye-witch and he knows just who.
As a result of abandonment by her mother, rearing her brother, and saving their livelihood from her wastrel father, wool is Senna de Valery’s very existence. When she travels to Ireland to promote her unique blend to Rardove, it doesn’t take her too long to realize that he isn’t interested in her wool, but another alliance altogether involving forced marriage and dye-making. With a taste of his particular brand of cruelty, Senna knows no other option but escape and she thinks she’s glimpsed an imprisoned Irish warrior who would be willing to help her.
Finian O’ Melaghlin, chief councilor to the O’Fail king, is on a mission to determine what exactly Rardove knows about the rumored powers of the Wishme dye. After his men are slaughtered and he’s tortured and imprisoned, Finian knows the power is no longer a secret. However, his salvation arrives in the form of a beautiful and courageous angel who rescues him from his cell with the promise he’ll help her escape from Rardove’s clutches. Together they flee into the Irish countryside to complete his mission and get her to safety.
I enjoyed so much about this one it’s hard to know where to start, but the easiest place for me is always the hero. Finian is a warrior and the king’s favorite and he doesn’t let anything get between him and his duty. He’s never questioned his priorities until he meets Senna; she turns his world upside down. He’s a hero who smiles and laughs, but is still fierce and firm. Senna hasn’t had it easy and must provide for herself and others – she’s never had the comfort of someone looking out for her. I appreciated the fact they needed each other throughout the entire book and neither character dominates the other. While the action is intense throughout, this is certainly a character driven story.
The book is rich in terms of historical setting and character relationships. While I know little of Irish history, I felt an appreciation for the land and the people described and found both the setting unique and legend of the dyes interesting. Both main characters and the villain were complex, though I felt there were some gaps that weren’t explained as well as needed. However, when I reread after I finished the book, some gaps made more sense the second go round. Plus, from the time they meet in the dungeon, Senna and Finian have incredible chemistry. Their relationship develops quickly and the sensuality and intimacy of it seemed almost earthy and more realistic than most I’ve read recently.
Though I enjoyed the book wholeheartedly, I caution that it’s not without its flaws. Both hero, heroine, and villain are almost over the top; all were beautiful and ideal to their roles. As I stated earlier, there were some gaps in the characters’ histories which needed to be explained in order to see motivations more clearly. Plus, I worry about their HEA – not because of their love, but because of the turbulent times and choices they made at the end.
It’s a treat to find a good Medieval romance to immerse yourself in every once in a while, especially since they’re so rare, and The Irish Warrior allowed me to do just that. If you’re looking for deep characterization, a unique setting, and excellent storytelling, this may be just what you need.