Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-24822-7
Historical Romance, 2015
Carice Faoilin has always been sickly and in pain, but even she takes a stand when she is ordered to marry Rory Ó Connor, the High King of Éireann. That man is known to all as a vicious bastard, after all, and marrying him is basically, at best, a death sentence or, at worst, a lifetime of abuse and misery. So, she flees all on her own, and, when the story opens, stumbles onto a monastery hoping to find shelter within. Inside the monastery is our “beast” hero Raine de Garenne (“beast” being a shorthand way of saying, “Ooh, look at my scars – okay, don’t look, but listen to me moan in anguish about them – OOH!”). Poor Carice has inadvertently handed herself to him as the perfect way to get to her intended husband – Raine, you see, is ordered by his liege to kill Rory. If he plays nice with Carice, all the while planning to send her to Rory, he has the perfect excuse to get close to Rory…
Oh. don’t cringe. Be assured that no matter how badly anguished Carice would be as a result of his deception, Raine would suffer the most because of all the guilt in his heart, thus we all know that he is betraying and killing people for the most noble of reasons. Indeed, this one should have been re-titled Warrior of Whining because Raine is easily one of the biggest wet rags I’ve encountered in a romance novel. No, calling him a “wet rag” would be too generous, as his introduction scene comprises nine pages – nine pages – of blistering, circular moaning and whining about his predicament.
- He doesn’t want to be an assassin.
- But he has to, because his sisters are held captive by King Henry.
- He joins King Henry’s army, even if his heart is not in it, because he hopes that this would persuade the King to release his sisters.
- Henry instead sends him to Ireland to do bad things. Like killing people.
- Raine feels guilty over his sisters’ fate, so he will not fail them.
- But he also blames himself for the deaths of the people in his hands!
- And he feels guilty for his impending betrayal of Carice!
- But he will not fail his sisters!
- Oh, all this guilt over his sisters, victims, and Carice!
- BUT HE WILL NOT FAIL HIS SISTERS!
- No, guilt!
- WILL NOT FAIL!
- HE WILL NOT FAIL!
You get the idea. I’ve described his entire personality and condensed all those blasted pages full of his whiny internal monologues in the bullet points above.
Carice is the sickly one on the run for her life, yet somehow she ends up being the one who has to prop our whiny crybaby hero. I suspect that the author intends for me to feel so teary-eyed for the hero that I will give him a medal for his anguished suffering, but come on, there comes a point when our hero should just man up and do his thing without all this repetitive boring whining. If life is so horrible for him, just sit on his sword and end my suffering already, damn it!
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned his usual “Okay, I’ll shag you but you will have to listen to me go, ‘NO, NO, NO I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!’ non-stop afterwards” shtick, have I?
Warrior of Fire is quite the standard damsel-in-distress, evil warlord, and sex on the run medieval romance, but under other circumstances, this one would still be a readable tale. The heroine, despite being sickly and all, shows some tenacity and pluck that can be endearing in a heartwarming “See that cripple trying to win a marathon!” way. However, the story ends up being a blistering bore because the hero just won’t stop being a broken record about his guilt and anguish. It also doesn’t help matters that his entire plot hinges on him killing the King if he wants to see Carice comes out okay, anything else could mean very bad things for her, and he fails even at that. Carice is the one who has to negotiate their happy ending together. While I always admire a heroine who trumps over adversity, and our dearest here is a delightful example of how a frail heroine can still be strong in other ways, this means that only thing Raine is good at is being a broken record. He talks way too much, but can’t walk the walk.
If you have a high tolerance of whiners, you would probably enjoy this one more than me. Everyone else, steel yourself if you still want to read this thing.