The Last Warrior
There were many times during the first hundred or so pages of The Last Warrior when I nearly put it down. However, since it was assigned to me to review, I persevered and was rewarded. This book could have been a keeper, but for some problems. However, since this is only Ms. Kyle’s second book, I expect there will be many keepers in her future.
Captain Jake Talbert has only one thing on his mind – finding and recovering five Japanese katanas (a katana is a sword – Duncan MacLeod’s sword from Highlander: The Series was a katana) stolen from him during battle sixteen years earlier – a battle in which Jake’s adopted Japanese brother died. Having been raised in Japan since the age of ten, it is a point of honor for Jake to return the katanas to his “father” no matter the cost to himself.
Megan McLowry has the set of five katanas but doesn’t have a clue as to the value they hold for the dark and mysterious Captain. She coerced her sword-collector father, Douglass McLowry, into giving them to her as a birthday present not realizing that having the swords has put both her father and Megan into danger – for unbeknownst to Megan, banker Douglass had taken possession of the swords when Chen Lee, powerful leader of the Tong (Chinese gangs) defaulted on a bank loan. Now Chen Lee wants the swords back and has made several attempts on Douglass’ life in order to get them.
It is rumored in San Francisco that the handsome English Captain Talbert is skilled in the ways of self-defense far exceeding the usual. So, Megan approaches Jake and successfully secures his services as bodyguard to her father until such time as they can figure out who is trying to kill Douglass and why. To stay close to Douglass, Jake moves in to the McLowry mansion where Jake and Megan thwart several more attempts on her father’s, and her own, life. In the meantime, Jake and Megan cannot deny the heated attraction they feel for each other and soon that attraction bursts into passion.
What makes this book interesting, and sets it apart from so many historicals, is that it has a unique hero. This is a man who embraces both Western and Eastern ideologies and who honors them both. However, it is this divergence that also torments him, along with his memories of Japan and his adopted family, and how Americans scorn those things he has learned about the Japanese culture that he finds beautiful. Jake has always assumed he would take a traditional Japanese wife, a petite, shy, dark-haired, almond-eyed beauty. When he meets curvy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Megan, hardly docile and hardly subservient, he is thrown into more internal conflict. Jake suffers many torments due to the dichotomy of how life is viewed between the two cultures – the secret he keeps hidden about the way in which his beloved adopted brother died being the severest self-criticism he has to overcome.
Megan was a different story. She was smart and feisty and protective of her father, but not a wholly rational individual. She does stupid things to prove she is more than the pampered socialite the world perceives her to be. Of course, these dumb actions put her at risk. I had some real problems with the way she blackmailed Jake into helping her, not caring at all that he had a life of his own that he had to put on hold while he was forced to help her, and I felt her anger at Jake near the end of the book was contrived just to add pages or something. Plus, all of her thoughts were punctuated with exclamation points! It got old! I felt as though she was always yelling at me! It made her look overly-emotional and out-of-control! Oh my God! It was too much! See what I mean? Settle down, Megan!
Taken as a whole, this is a pretty solid read with a nice hero, a couple of hot little love scenes, a bit of humor, some vile villains, and plotting and characterization flaws here-and-there that will hopefully be worked out in future books. With some reservations, I can recommend The Last Warrior. In closing, I just have to say, my favorite “characters” were two iguanas that really stole the show.