Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gerri Russell - The Warrior Trainer

Publication - Jan. 2007
Leisure Historical
Medieval Scotland
Browsing new releases last month, I discovered Gerri Russell's newest release Warrior's Lady. It sounded really good and the reviews were wonderful. I ordered her two previous books The Warrior Trainer and Warrior's Bride, so I could read them in order.

Gerri Russell won the American Title Contest for The Warrior Trainer. and it was most deserving of it.

Scotia’s duty is to protect the Stone of Destiny--the key to Scotland’s salvation, and the reason she and the women who guarded the Stone before her had become the best warriors in the world. Yet those women had never met a man like Ian MacKinnon. He’s journeyed to her castle to learn her legendary skills so he can exact vengeance against the English. His viciousness on the battlefield stands in stark contrast to his tenderness in the bedroom. But he will soon move on, leaving Scotia to face a conflict for which she has no training: her duty to the Stone versus her desire to follow her heart.

Not only is Scotia's duty to protect the Stone, but she also must produce an heir to continue the line of Warrior Women. A task she is not too keen on.

Once Ian MacKinnon seeks Scotia for training, in order to best the legendary Four Horsemen, he is quickly put in his place with her extraordinary fighting skills. After a simple dance, Scotia feels as if Ian could rip down the walls around her hardened heart, making her feel joy and happiness. Emotions she should not experience due to her duties. Yet no matter how hard she fights it, an undeniable attraction forms between them.

"Who am I to battle next? Or will I be subject to more of your abuse instead?" he teased.

"The abuse would be against me, I and your barbaric thrusts."

The Look in his eyes shifted from playful to something more intense. "I can be gentle when needed, Scotia. I promise you that."

The intensity of his gaze mixed with the subtlety of his words brought a slight tremble to her hands. She fumbled for the hilt of her sword, not intending to use it, merely needing the security of the smooth cold metal beneath her palms. Her sword steadied her. "We are done here."

"With which battle, Scotia? he asked, his brow rising in question. "The one with swords, or the one with words? pg. 54
Ian may lose against Scotia when it comes to the sword battle training, but with the battle of words, Ian clearly leaves Scotia stumbling, unsure and afraid of the way his words make her feel, loosening the ties around her femininity. Soon she will have no choice but to concede defeat. His clever tongue, innocently sensual touches, and the heated looks he gives her, leaves her with no other option but to follow the wants and needs of her well as her heart.

His fingers unbuckled her gauntlet, then let it fall to the ground. Calloused flesh covered her palms and scars of abuse lined the back of her hand from all her years of training. THey were the hands of a warrior, proving she was no real Queen of the May. She tensed at the thought. "So strong, yet so feminine," Ian said with with a touch of awe, as if not seeing what was truly there. pg. 60

But the threat of the Four Horsemen loom between them, men who want only to claim the elusive Stone of Destiny for the English crown. They will do anything within their power to find it...killing and terrorizing the land of Scotland. Both Scotia and Ian must continually remind themselves of their duties. Ian must remain focused on his training to defeat the Horsemen. And Scotia must not forget that there is no room within her to be a woman--only the warrior she was trained to be.

I only had one beef with the story line. Her mother, the warrior trainer who trained her, died when Scotia was only 13. My concern is, how much could she possibly have learned from her mother to make her a great warrior, besting well seasoned and experienced warriors, if for the last 12 years she trained alone? Would she gain any more experience than any other? Or maybe it was the Stone of Destiny! The magic of the Stone allowed her to become the the great Warrior she is. Anything is possible when there's magic :).

Even with that concern I still think Gerri Russell is a beautiful storyteller. This is one of those books I am so glad I stumbled across. It's rich with Scottish lore, something different than I've read before. The events she placed before her characters and how they handled them were exceptionally well written. The slow build up of their relationship could not have progressed faster. Any other way and it would have been rushed, leaving out the intense emotions when all finally comes together and they accept that fate has meant for them to be together. And together they can have the happiness and love neither of them felt before in their lives. The Warrior Trainer is a wonderful story with it's heavy emphasis on Duty and Honor, love and trust no longer being a weakness but something powerful, enhancing the duty and honor Scotia and Ian have lived their lives by.

This book is a 4.75 out of 5 for me. I very much enjoyed it and am glad I don't have to wait for the next two books, since I have them already on my bookshelf!

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