Kim’s Review of The Warrior Trilogy by Lara Adrian

 

……….wllYesterday was Valentine’s Day. What better way to celebrate (a day late) than reviewing some romance novels?  Last year I became entranced by Lord of Vengeance by Lara Adrian.  How can you go wrong with medieval knights? Seriously, knights fighting with swords over a woman’s honor? What wouldn’t I give to be one of those ladies?  Anyway, I chose to read Adrian’s Warrior Trilogy after Lord of Vengeance because of how fantastic Adrian’s medieval world was.  It was gritty, real, and showcased both the good and bad of that time period. And if I’m being honest, I also wanted more hot knights.

Book one of the trilogy is White Lion’s Lady. Plot summary from Goodreads:

Abducted on the way to her wedding, heiress Isabel de Lamere is unaware that the scoundrel planning to use her for his own gain is the cherished champion of her childhood: Griffin, the White Lion. Yet even as she discovers his treachery, Isabel cannot deny that Griffin lingers in her dreams, awakening the passion in her steadfast heart.

Then a twist of fate puts a price on both their heads, embroiling them in a life-and-death chase that will force Griffin to choose between his own freedom and his fierce desire for the woman who would redeem his noble spirit. But to reclaim his lost honor, the White Lion could lose Isabel forever. . . .

Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?  Griffin was Isabel’s knight in shining armor as a child, saving her from a wild boar in the woods.  From that moment on Isabel believes Griffin will grow to be the most deserving, honorable, and cherished knight there is.  When he kidnaps her off the highway ten years later and holds her  for ransom she quickly wonders what happened to him during the years of their separation.  She wonders how a boy who dwelt so much on doing good turned into this passionless, dark, empty soul of a man.  As she is forced into his company on their long journey to her fiance, she begins to understand more of the hardships he underwent during  their separation and how becoming this calm, calculating man was his way to survive.

To watch Griffin’s transformation back to the man he used to be was in a word, breathtaking.  The way he strives to become a good and honorable man/knight not only for Isabel but for himself too is a journey you won’t want to miss.  I sometimes lose interest in books where characters just change to appease their partners. What is the point of that?  I believe change to be something that should come from your own heart and mind, not those of another.  Because Adrian had Griffin transform mostly for himself  I give this work high marks!

Isabelle, on the other hand, is one of those characters that is literally good down to her bones.  She tries to see positive traits in everyone and always tries to have an optimistic point of view.  At times, this led her into bad situations and it was interesting to see how Adrian portrayed this characteristic in a negative and positive light.  It felt like a realistic approach to the character, and I’m glad that Adrian was able to give us another wonderful character to flesh out her work.  In all, this is one you definitely don’t want to miss.

5 out of 5 Stars

White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 795 pages
ISBN: 2940014447201

blbBook two of the trilogy is Black Lion’s Bride.  Plot summary from Goodreads:

Daughter of the King of the Assassins, Zahirah was trained to be as deadly as she is beautiful. When she steals into the desert camp of the English army, she has one goal: to banish the crusaders from her homeland by murdering King Richard the Lionheart. Her deceptive strategy delivers her into the hands of the enemy–and puts her at the mercy of the dashing Black Lion, Sebastian of Montborne.

Fighting for peace in a dangerous, exotic land, Sebastian never dreamed that the tides of war would bring him a mysterious beauty in need of his protection. Nor could he guess that the lady who ignites his heart is the very enemy he has sworn to destroy on behalf of his king. Caught in a deadly game of passion and deception, their unbidden love could cost Sebastian and Zahirah their lives. . . .

Black Lion’s Bride was definitely my least favorite of the three.  It went downhill for me from the start, mainly due to the problems I had with Zahirah’s character. Let’s go through what we know of her. She’s the ONLY female Assassin of her kind and is apparently one of the BEST.  Well of course she’s one of the best. Who else but the best would be given the massive responsibility of assassinating King Richard?  Yet she’s barely able to defend herself, help in an ambush, etc.  Every time the reader is given a chance to witness her abilities, she flails and fails.  While the words say she should be strong and lethal, she comes off as weak and defenseless.  Basically, this made me lose faith in her as a character, and it made my reading experience fall flat.

I found the whole ending of the book to be a bit far-fetched and unbelievable.  Between the outcome of the plot to kill the king and the big secret Zahirah’s been keeping, etc, I was asked to suspend too much disbelief as a reader.  While the details of the book fell flat for me, the writing at its base was still strong.

2 out of 5 Stars

Black Lion’s Bride by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 847 pages
ISBN: 2940014447447

lovBook three of the trilogy is Lady of Valor. Plot summary from Goodreads:

Left a widow by her cruel husband’s death, Lady Emmalyn of Fallonmour is determined to control her own destiny, until her hard-won vows of independence are threatened by the mysterious warrior sent to protect her castle on order of the king. Emmalyn is now at the mercy of Sir Cabal, a feared knight known as Blackheart.

Skilled at war and hiding a tormented past, Cabal swears allegiance to no one but himself and his country. But once he meets Emmalyn, he finds his strength tested by this proud beauty who stirs his blood with desire, tempting him to defy his king and surrender his heart. . . .

Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?  Cabal has the blackest of hearts and a soul that is as devoid of emotion as a cold winter’s night.  He is the best mercenary and soldier that the King has at his disposal, due to Cabal’s emotionless personality.  When I started reading this book, I had no idea how Adrian would make this character redeemable and worth my time.  As she slowly gives the reader glimpses into his past, he becomes less of a blackened personality and more of a mysterious puzzle.  Emmalyn’s past, on the other hand, is given to us in a rather straightforward way, and her life is an open book.  Her story, most specifically her marriage to her first husband, is devastatingly cruel.  She is a battered woman before the term was ever coined.  Years of psychological and physical abuse took a toll on her and as such, she’s hesitant to trust or reveal her heart to anyone.  These two shells of people battling to become whole once again while struggling to understand new feelings of the heart are wonderful foundations for this work.  This was a great way to end the trilogy, and I’m glad I stuck with it until the end!

4 out of 5 Stars

Lady of Valor by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 853 pages
ISBN: 2940014436823

This is my fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my second completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Playing Catch Up: Romance Edition – Round 2

So I read a LOT of books.  I’m up to 100, but I’ve only reviewed 78.  Life has been really hectic recently with my sister’s wedding coming up, followed by my trip to Mexico soon after.  In an effort to get myself organized before I leave, I’m trying to catch up 100% on my reviews before I leave. With that being said, here is another catch up post of several more romance novels I’ve recently read!

#79 The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1) by Jennifer Probst – summary from Goodreads

To save her family home, impulsive bookstore owner, Alexa Maria McKenzie, casts a love spell. But she never planned on conjuring up her best friend’s older brother—the powerful man who once shattered her heart.

Billionaire Nicholas Ryan doesn’t believe in marriage, but in order to inherit his father’s corporation, he needs a wife and needs one fast. When he discovers his sister’s childhood friend is in dire financial straits, he’s offers Alexa a bold proposition.

A marriage in name only with certain rules: Avoid entanglement. Keep things all business. Do not fall in love. The arrangement is only for a year so the rules shouldn’t be that hard to follow, right?  Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans…

There is a definite reason that The Marriage Bargain has been listed on NY Times bestselling ebook list week after week….it’s Probst’s stellar storytelling capabilities!  Alexa and Nick are “puzzle box” characters.  The more you learn about them the more you realize how much you don’t know about them.  It takes a while to fit all their pieces together, but eventually you learn enough about them to get inside their heads and hearts and understand their motives and actions.

Nick is really messed up because of his father.  He doesn’t believe in getting attached to anyone because he doesn’t think he is worth anyone’s love, and also doesn’t think he has the strength to stay in a relationship.  Alexa is fiercely loyal to those she loves, and will do anything and everything in her power to save them, including entering into a loveless marriage.  To see Alexa and Nick try to sift through all their personal issues while trying to understand what is happening to them as a couple….well it’s an interestingly bumpy ride.

Final Thoughts: Read it. (There are lots of cute animals in it too!)

4 out of 5 Stars

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst
Entangled Publishing (2012)
eBook: 414 pages
ISBN: 2940013903296

#80 Intentions of the Earl (Scandalous Sisters #1) by Rose Gordon – summary from Goodreads

When the impoverished Andrew Black, Earl of Townson, hits rock bottom, he makes an agreement that will end his eight year poverty streak once and for all. In order to gain his fortune he must do but one simple thing: ruin an innocent girl’s reputation enough to make her flee to America.

Brooke Banks isn’t interested in marriage, or so she thinks. She came to London to have a good time, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. Widely known for her tendency to flout the rules, she suspects nothing when a handsome stranger appears on her doorstep.

Thirteen days, a handful of kisses and one scandalous situation later, Andrew and Brooke will have to choose to stick to their original plans, or decide if a life together is worth the risk.

Brooke is so much fun to read.  She completely bucks what society expects of a proper woman, refusing to be anything but herself. (A woman after my own heart!)  It’s refreshing to read about a woman of Brooke’s strength, as there are many times the heroines of romance novels are wishy-washy and just do as society expects.  Andrew is another unconventional choice in that he is an anti-hero at first.  You root for him and Brooke along the way and hope that he begins to see some sense and stop his deceitful plan.

Final Thoughts: The story is good as are the characters.  The editing is a bit poor in this eBook, and can make for a jarring read at times.

3 out of 5 Stars

Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon
Rose Gordon (2011)
eBook: 749 pages
ISBN: 2940032922674

#81 Liberty for Paul (Scandalous Sisters #2) by Rose Gordon – summary from Goodreads

Liberty Banks loves revenge almost as much as she hates one Mister Paul Grimes, who, she considers to be the most improper creature she has ever clapped eyes upon. But when her plans for revenge against Paul go bust, she suddenly finds herself walking down the aisle to him.

Once married, a battle of the wills breaks out as each tries to reform the other. Liberty wants nothing more than to have a proper husband. And, much to Liberty’s dismay, Paul will stop at nothing to have is all too proper wife do something–anything–to break the rules of society, specifically do the most improper thing imaginable which is to fall in love with the most improper man: her own husband.

Not really sure where to even go with this one. Liberty may be the most annoying heroine I’ve ever read.  She misconstrues every conversation and act from Paul and honestly after the first few chapters it was really annoying.  I found myself banging my head against a wall with Liberty’s antics.  The only reason I finished this one was so that I could continue on to book 3, To Win His Wayward Wife.  I wasn’t sure if I needed the preceding plot to understand the story of book 3.  I can happily tell you that you don’t.

Final Thoughts: Skip book 2.  Stick with 1 and 3.

1 out of 5 Stars

Liberty for Paul by Rose Gordon
TALC Publishing (2011)
eBook: 208 pages
ISBN: 2940013450943

#82 To Win His Wayward Wife (Scandalous Sisters #3) by Rose Gordon – summary from Goodreads

Not to be outdone by her sisters’ marriage-producing scandals, quiet and withdrawn Madison Banks quickly finds herself walking down the aisle to a man who has secretly loved her for years.

Her groom, however, has no idea how to show his new bride that he truly loves her and following a bungled wedding night, finds himself in a position to either win his wife once and for all or lose her forever.

Can he prove himself worthy of her? Will she accept his love? Or will jealousy and past insecurities tear the pair apart?

Unarguably the best in the trilogy.  Gordon’s writing capabilities have evidently grown leaps and bounds from books 1 & 2.  Even the editing of the eBook has significantly improved.  Even if you were to take all the improved writing away, Madison and her groom (I won’t say who it is, because it’s a surprise) are the most fascinating of the three couples.  Madison’s past is heartbreaking.  The one man she thought she could love rejected her, leaving her in the clutches of  a boy she used to be infatuated with.  By the time she realized Robbie would never be marrying her she had other problems on her hands, as well as a crushed soul.  Her life in America was truly sorrow- filled.  She is definitely the sister you cheer for, hoping that somewhere along the way she’ll find true love.  Her husband has a nasty reputation, but a huge secret that could change Madison’s family’s view of him.  Watching him try to court his wife and win her heart, well it’s the stuff good romances are made of.

Final thoughts: Madison’s a worthy heroine with a worthy love story you don’t want to miss.

4 out of 5 Stars

To Win His Wayward Wife by Rose Gordon
TALC Publishing (2011)
eBook: 213 pages
ISBN: 2940013450950

#83 Lord of Vengeance by Lara Adrian – summary from Goodreads

Taken captive by Gunnar Rutledge, a dark knight sworn to destroy her father, Raina d’Bussy must teach forgiveness to a man who knows no mercy and lives only to exact revenge on his enemy. But time in Gunnar’s keep stirs an unwanted passion in Raina, and something far more perilous, when she finds herself falling in love with the one man she should never desire.

For Gunnar, vengeance is all that matters. He seeks the ultimate price from his enemy’s beautiful young daughter, claiming Raina as his hostage. But the proud beauty defies him at every turn, tempting him like no other. Setting out to break Raina’s glorious spirit, Gunnar instead finds himself bewitched by her goodness, her strength. Can he seize the justice he is due without losing Raina forever?

Wow.  The chemistry between Gunnar and Raina is absolutely sizzling.  Adrian writes their growing attraction in a first-rate manner.  Neither is sure how they should feel towards the other because of Gunnar’s vow of vengeance against Raina’s father.  Raina should hate Gunnar but finds herself strangely attracted to him, all the while growing more and more suspicious of her father’s past as memories from her childhood resurface.  The inner turmoil and conflict that Raina deals with are exquisitely written and are among the best passages in Adrian’s work.

Adrian’s secondary characters are all enticing additions to the story line.  Nigel’s character is a great addition to the conflict already existing between Gunnar and d’Bussy.  His conflicting personality is like a poison, affecting everyone it touches: Gunnar, Raina, d’Bussy, and Burc.  No one is safe from his demonic nature.  In essence Nigel and Gunnar have many similarities.  They are both hellbent on seeking vengeance, but where one begins the see the light, darkness completely engulfs the other.  They’re interesting antithesis of each other.

Final Thoughts: If my thoughts above haven’t sold you on trying this book, nothing will. TRY IT!

5 out of 5 Stars

Lord of Vengeance by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook: 1,074 pages
ISBN: 2940014484893