The Warrior - Kinley MacGregor My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book. This one's got 2 parts.

To tell you the truth, I'm quite enjoying this book. Though the premise isn't anything unique, I still like it. I liked Catarina in Taming the Scotsman, in here she's keeping her record. But, I wasn't really interested in Lochlan since he didn't seem to be an intriguing man. Erm, yah, a bit stuffy and straight laced kind. But of course, as the laird of the clan MacAllister, he has proved himself. In his book, I'm beginning to unearth a man who has his own vulnerabilities, too.

The story picks up from Taming the Scotsman, where it's known that there's a possibility that Kieran is alive. A few months later, Lochlan is in France to see Stryder (hero of A Dark Champion), who is attending a tourney. Lochlan thought it's best that he volunteers for this job since all his other brothers are married and have kids and he didn't want them to face the danger, also as a laird and brother, it's his duty. I instantly admired him for this. On the way, he meets Catarina again (they first met in Taming the Scotsman and there, Catarina and Lochlan were onto each-other with words) and now, he's kinda saddled with her.

Catarina was running away from some men, who abducted her to take her to her father king Phillip. She's his illegitimate daughter and Phillip has decided that she'd make a good bargain to some means, so wanted her to marry accordingly. Catarina grew up with her mother's side of the family as her father really never took interest in her. But, now that he 'needs' her, he's ordered men to abduct her! Oh, what a father! But of course, he's a king and kings do whatever they like, arrogant boors! But, I digress. Our Catarina is no missish, weak-kneed and she worked her way through the kidnappers' den. And, when they were on her heals, she saw Lochlan. Lochlan, even knowing it's in his best interest to ignore the whole situation and be on his way, decides to help her as the 'responsible laird' side of him wins the war.

They dodge the kidnappers but Catarina falls in their hands again as the two quarrel and she goes on her way. Lochlan kills them as they tried to slap her into submission. Hooboy! Although, Lochlan initially decided it's better to take her to the king and avoid any disaster it might cause for his clan [ref: the feud they had with the MacDouglas clan and 'why'] but ultimately, he promises to take Catarina to her uncle Bavel, whom we also met in Taming the Scotsman. On their way, they met three other individuals, two brothers Bracken and Bryce and their sister Julia, They were on the verge of robbing them but ceased as they identified Catarina. The siblings, who were from a noble family in England but a tragedy has left them to fend for themselves. Catarina is very sad to know their predicament. Lochlan decides to help them out and give them a proper home. Me, quite impressed by his actions!

Catarina and Lochlan's banters are a fun read, as I said she's very open and enjoys life while Lochlan is pretty stuck with his stuffy side. There is a scene where Lochlan asks her to use his hairbrush. When Catarina opens his saddlebag, she sees everything is so neat there and she had this impish urge to ruffle it. Well, this scence signifies a lot IMO. She's already ruffling his life but can't tell that Lochlan dislikes it. He doesn't. Even though, from time to time, Catarina insults him and he growls in answer, they like each-other just fine! ;)

In between, I also got to know things about Lochlan and how he was physically and verbally abused by his horrible father in the past. I knew the man was awful from the earlier books but this one reveals a whole new horizon of his vices! He had other basterds and was a cheating husband. I thought Sin was his only indiscretion but I was wrong. Also, I couldn't believe the way he manipulated Lochlan, said horrible things to him and in the end, destroyed Lochlan's relationship with the woman he loved. And, what about that woman? Whatever I read, it was pretty distasteful. No wonder Lochlan is reserved and has sheltered his heart. And, his father did all these just to let him know he can't trust anyone and being the laird, he's only a trophy to the other people. Also, Lochlan's exchanges with Kieran before he supposedly drowned himself was revealed. I hated Kieran in all the other books Taming the Scotsman!

After their plan to travel to Sussex, Lochlan was imprisoned by a French lord when one English lord identified him and wanted justice for a crime his father did. I mean, WTF? I was really angry about it. Then, Catarina had to reveal herself to save him but then, she had to stay in that French man's house. Lochlan, along with Stryder and Simon, planned to steal her away. But, they didn't know, Graham MacKaid (a villain from Taming the Scotsman), comes back to abduct and torture her to death, so that Lochlan hangs because people in English court know about his father's dalliances and there were many rumors of him being cruel to his bed partners. Stryder sought help from Kestrel, a tracker who's also an addition from Outremer. I liked Kestrel. He helps find Catarina as well as accompanies Lochlan and her to the Scot's house. Anyway, after Catarina was found and the MacKaids were imprisoned, Lochlan couldn't deny his feelings for her (Catarina already had fallen by this time) and they make love.

Afterwards, as they rode to a dockside town and Lochlan finds out that king Phillip is already here in search of his daughter. Both Catarina and Lochlan hide in an inn and wait for Stryder and the others to come and fetch them. As time went by, they grow suspicious and worried but this time they spent together, also help them to get to know each-other well. Catarina's uncle Bavel finds a way to meet her and tells her of her father's plan and she knew she has to be on the run again. There was a scene here between her and Lochlan I simply adored. I do love a pouty Lochlan! :p Catarina was sweet, the way she handled him afterwards. hahaha Then, at night, Lochlan learns from Kestrel that Stryder and Simon is with the king as he recognized them and kinda holding them in his ship. Kestrel takes them to the ship bound to England and help them flee. Kestrel had his own story to tell, a bit of which is revealed in the journey.

Lochlan and Catarina, along with Kestrel, travel to the Scot's palace. And, this is where some really heart wrenching scenes take place. They were, at first, denied an audience with the Scot. But, with Kestrel intervention and with a determined Lochlan, they finally met him. His face is badly scarred with burn marks on the one side but the other side shows what a beautiful man he is/was (Oh, I only see Gerry as the Phantom :p here)! And, no it's not Kieran. It's Duncan, the other MacAllister! Lochlan sees the similarities but doesn't recognize him. Then, it was revealed that he's another of his father's bastards and Keiran knew him from an early age, about which none of the MacAllisters knew. Kieran helped him with food and money, so when a whiny Kieran met Duncan after the Isobail incident, he immediately agreed to accompany him to the Outremer. Some other facts come out too and Lochlan and his new-found brother embrace. I was in tears. The next day, the king tracks them down and finds Lochlan and Catarina together and asks for Lochlan's head... This was a very emotional scene. I wish I read more scenes like this throughout the book. Also, as I recall, Lochlan never revealed his childhood vulnerabilities to anyone, not even to Catarina. We get to know it all from his musings about his past. I'm not sure why.

And then, there is the epilogue, of which I'm not sure how to comment upon. I've already read in the other reviews that the epilogue was, ermm, odd. For me, not so odd but I think the whole thing was wholly unnecessary and the person involved should've remain as it was revealed earlier in the book. That's all I'll say about it.

Many secondary characters put an appearance in this book, specially Stryder, Rowena, Simon and Damien. Simon is special here because he appeared in every book of this series, which I liked. I read earlier that Kit, Stryder's brother was supposed to be with the Scot, Duncan but saw nothing of him later on.

All in all, I'll miss the MacAllisters and the other characters since no idea if/when will there be another book. KM should've finished this series off and not leave so many cliffhangers and questions unresolved IMO. This is not a good feeling while ending a series, at least for the time being.

The Brotherhood of Swords *update...*:

The Wraith is Simon of Ravenswood (later, of Anwyk), book "Midsummer's Knight" (novella) in Where's My Hero

The Widowmaker is Stryder of Blackmoor, book A Dark Champion

The Abbot is Christian of Acre, book Return of the Warrior

The Scot is Duncan MacAllister, Lochlan's half-brother, no books yet.

The Sorcerer/El Sahaar is Nassir, a Saracen man, no books yet.

Then there are two other additional men:

The Pagan is ... Still not sure, he was first featured in Taming the Scotsman, no books yet.

The Phantom is Velizarii, another Prince of Elgedera and cousin to Christian, no books yet.

Other characters, an assassin:

The Scorpion is ... Damien St. Cyr???, first featured in A Dark Champion, no books yet.