The Chieftain  The Chieftain  is the Fourth book in Margaret Mallory’s Return of the Highlander series.

I am sorry this review is late, I didn’t receive my book due to all the crazy weather until after my post day. I must say Margaret Mallory is a new to me author. I had collected the first two books in this series, received the last one from the publisher and now I just need to collect the third to complete my collection. A Collection worthy of my keeper shelf. I love the covers, they look so loverly next to each other. You all know how much I love a great cover. The cover speaks for the book and I like how each warrior is portrayed and the colors of each blend well together.

The Chieftain is the conclusion ( or is it??) of four warriors return after years away fighting in France. They returned to find their clan in disarray and needing true leadership and Chieftain and not the one currently in control, who has no right to be there.

Conner with the help of his cousins Ian and Alex and their best friend Duncan has wrestled back control of the clan from his Uncle Hugh a devious and murdering bastard. While Conner is the new and rightful Chieftain his uncle Hugh is still around and causing trouble, including getting someone to assassinate him so Hugh can try to take over the clan again. Conner is nothing like his father before him, taking any woman he wants and siring children everywhere he can. He has been celibate for over 2 years waiting to marry for the good of his clan. The time is now right for him to find a wife that will bring strength and warriors so his clan can finally take control of their lands back from the MacLeods. Conner is such a man of honor with an eye single to the prosperity of his clan, he has withstood many obstacles and temptations put in his way.

Ilysa is Duncan’s younger sister and has known Conner since she was a child and has loved him since he came home from France and brought hope to their clan. Ilysa has hidden her beauty at her mother’s insistence since she was a young girl.  Ilysa is a healer and has the sight and uses it to help keep Duncan safe and treats his wounds saving his life. She knows she can never marry Conner but she has run his household for 5 years and follows him when he moves to Trotternish. While at Trotternish, Ilysa is able to keep Conner from a disastrous marriage and from certain death but trapping him in his own dungeon. She is willing to do anything she must to save and help Conner even if it means Conner’s friendship will turn to hate. Ilysa is a determined lass willing to do everything she can for the man she loves and her clan.

I really enjoyed this story but I do wish I was able to read about how Conner  and company were able to give his uncle Hugh the boot. The story can be read alone but because I know it’s in a series is probably why I wanted to see that part of the story, I know it must be in a previous story . It definitely makes you want to go back and read all the other stories in the series and that is just what I plan to do.

So we have Conner, who has been “saving himself” since he came home from war, for when he is married so all his heirs will belong to his future wife and not cause strife in the clan as his grandfather did. Conner thinks of Ilysa as a good friend after all she has healed him over and over and recently helped him by stopping what would have been a bad marriage.  Until she locks him up in his own dungeon for 3 days for his own good and is so mad he tells her to leave and never return, after she leaves, his household goes to pot and the food is so bad some get food poisoning, that had me laughing. It doesn’t take Conner long to see he needs Ilysa back until he can find a bride of course and so when he goes back to the clan’s seat he doesn’t even recognize Ilysa since his friends wives got ahold of her and forced her into a medieval makeover. Only now Conner isn’t the only one noticing Ilysa and these new feelings of lust for her are driving him even more crazy.

Once Conner and Ilysa are back at Trotternish they are faced with danger and ferreting out a spy that has killed from the inside and almost left them open to attack by unbarring the door. Then finally Conner’s eyes are opened and he and Ilysa make love and there are some surprises there, but I’m not telling. Things unfold including the attack of outlying farms and a barbaric retaliation that escalates things between the MacDonalds and the MacLeods. A Clan war brewing, a marriage contract that will help the clan but make Conner miserable, a secret revealed, deceit and treachery and a HEA is all wrapped up in this Highland tale. There are so many other things I could tell you that happen but I want  you to go pick up The Chieftain when it releases so you can discover this Highland Adventure for yourself. Ah, there is so much more and I could tease you all so much but I’m such a good friend I won’t do that to you. Well maybe I’ll tease you after all….there is a connection between the MacDonalds and the MacLeods and it is so surprising it made me forget danger was still lurking and I didn’t see the next thing coming when it hit me.

The Chieftain    Excerpt

“I’ve come to see to your woun-”

Ilysa made a high-pitched squeak, and the tray she was carrying fell from her hands with a crash. Her face went scarlet, and she dropped to the floor and scrambled to gather her things.

Though Ilysa probably got a good look at his bare backside, Connor had covered his essential parts with the drying cloth when he turned around. Her reaction seemed extreme for a lass who was both a skilled healer and a widow. He still found it difficult to believe Ilysa was old enough to have been wed. She was a tiny thing, and in the loose gowns she wore, he could not tell if she even had breasts.

“I’ll come back later,” Ilysa said as she frantically reached for rolling jars.

She squeaked again when he knelt to help her pick up the pieces of a broken clay pot.

“No need to go,” he said. “Just let me pull on my trews, and ye can see to my wounds.”

He stifled a laugh when she sprang to her feet and turned her back to him.

“‘Tis safe,” he told her once he had his trews on and had settled himself on a stool.

As soon as Ilysa leaned over to examine the arrow hole in his chest, her manner changed completely.

“Ach, ye should have let me do this sooner,” she scolded. “The bandages were stuck fast to the wound, weren’t they?”

He did not bother answering. Despite her annoyance, Ilysa’s touch was gentle. In fact, her fingers felt like feathers over his skin.

God help him, even Ilysa aroused him. Ach, he felt like the worst sort of scoundrel.

“How old are ye?” he asked her.

“Nineteen,” Ilysa said as she briskly mixed herbs into a paste.

Though she looked like she was twelve, Connor did not feel quite so disgusting for getting a throbbing erection from her touch.

“I’m nine years younger than you and my brother, same as I’ve always been,” she added with her dry humor.

Of course, he knew that. He could still remember when Duncan’s mother had returned pregnant after disappearing mysteriously for weeks. It had been the talk of the castle, but Anna had never enlightened any of them regarding where she had been or who fathered her babe. The ability to keep her own counsel was a trait Anna and her daughter had in common.

Ilysa’s hands were on him again, spreading the poultice over his wound, and he could think of nothing else. Ach, he was a sorry man. When she leaned close, he felt her breath on his skin. He resisted the temptation to close his eyes and pretend a lass who was not his best friend’s younger sister was touching him with a different purpose.

“Ye married young,” he said. “Ye couldn’t have been more than eleven when we left for France.”

“Ye were gone a long time. Sixteen is not young to wed.” She lifted his hand and placed it on the square of cloth that covered the poultice. “Hold that.”

She commenced to wind a clean linen strip around his chest. She cupped his elbow and lifted it as she brought the strip under his arm, taking charge of his body with an assurance that both surprised and further aroused him. When she leaned forward, reaching around him to bring it behind his back and over his shoulder, her chest touched his. A jolt went through him as he discovered that Ilysa definitely did have breasts. Even through the thick layers of fabric, there was no mistaking the feel of the soft, rounded flesh.

He hoped to God Ilysa did not look down and see his shaft pressing against his trews. Considering how she had reacted to seeing his bare arse, he feared she would faint dead away.

“What made ye decide to wed Mìchael?” he asked to distract himself. Her husband had been a few years younger than Connor. He had known him, but not well.

“My mother was dying, and she wished to see me settled,” Ilysa said.

Ilysa was a practical, sensible lass. No need to worry about her losing her head and running off with the wrong sort of man.

When she circled her arms around him again, Connor sucked in his breath. A lass who looked like a boy and dressed like a grandmother should not smell so good.

“Water lilies?” he asked without thinking.

“Aye,” she said and gave a light laugh. “I used the dried flowers in the poultice so it wouldn’t smell so dreadful this time.”

Christ, he was going to smell like lilies?

When he felt her breast against his arm, he made himself focus on the hideously ugly brown cloth that was wrapped tightly around her head and covered every bit of her hair. That helped, but not much.

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I give The Chieftain 4.75 tail swishes because there was a time or two when I thought the wording was a bit modern and it started to pull me out of medieval Scotland to the present.  Otherwise I’m going to go read The Guardian now. Here’s a look at the first 3 stories in Margaret Mallory’s Return of the Highlanders series.

The Guardian THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK I

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can’t prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

PASSION IGNITED

After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes home to find his clan in peril. To save his kin, he must right the wrongs from his past . . . and claim the bride he’s long resisted.

As a young lass, Sìleas depended on Ian to play her knight in shining armor. But when his rescue attempt compromised her virtue, Ian was forced to marry against his wishes. Five years later, Sìleas has grown from an awkward girl into an independent beauty who knows she deserves better than the reluctant husband who preferred war to his wife. Now this devilishly handsome Highlander is finally falling in love. He wants a second chance with Sìleas – and he won’t take no for an answer.

The Sinner  THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK 2

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can’t prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

IRRESISTIBLE DESIRE

Alex MacDonald is known for his skill as a warrior, his prowess with women, and his vow to never take a wife. But now his chieftain has asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice: wed Glynis MacNeil, a lass famed throughout the Highlands for her exquisite beauty—and defiant ways.

Familiar with heartbreak, Glynis refuses to fall for another handsome scoundrel. Yet when Alex’s past sins force an unlikely union, Glynis gives in to temptation and becomes his wife. Will their newfound passion be strong enough to fight the enemy that threatens their home, their clan, and their very lives?

The Warrior  THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK 3

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can’t prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

STAR-CROSSED

From the Isle of Skye to the battlefields of France, Duncan MacDonald has never escaped the memory of the true love he left behind. Deemed unworthy of a chieftain’s daughter, Duncan abandoned the lovely Moira to prove his worth in battle. Now, when called upon to rescue her from a rival clan, one thing is certain: Moira’s pull on his heart is stronger than ever.

Bartered away in marriage to a violent man, Moira will do anything to ensure she and her son survive. When a rugged warrior arrives to save her, the desperate beauty thinks her prayers have been answered-until she realizes it’s Duncan. The man who once broke her heart is now her only hope. Moira vows never again to give herself—or reveal her secrets—to the fierce warrior, but as they race across the sea, danger and desire draw them ever closer.

The Chieftain   THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK 4

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can’t prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

A WARRIOR’S HEART

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

Received from the Publisher in exchange for an Honest review.

You can go here to visit  Margaret www.MargaretMallory.com    www.facebook.com/margaretmallory.author
@margaretmallory

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