Just in time for the holidays, Michelle Willingham dusts off her hunky Irish MacEgan brothers for a new trio of interconnected stories featuring their various children. It’s a clever way to revisit a series for fans and introduce them to new readers, and locking the stories together gives this anthology a much more cohesive feel.
In The Bleak Midwinter
Brianna MacEgan lost her husband during a Viking invasion and she still deeply mourns his loss. She’s a shell of her former self and is beginning to spin fantasies in her head filled with revenge against the man responsible. Into this mix enters Arturo de Manzano, a Spainard who has come to Ireland by way of the crusades with one of Brianna’s cousins. He understands the loss that Brianna has suffered, being a widower himself. He is also smitten. What better way to get to know her than to enter into a bargain? He’ll train her to fight, to defend herself, and she’ll show him the countryside.
This is a lovely, yet sorrowful, story about a woman who was deeply in love with her husband, still reeling from his death. She is attracted to Arturo, but considers herself too far gone to entertain the notion of moving on with her life. For his part, Arturo shows her how very wrong she is.
It’s a year since Brianna MacEgan’s husband was killed, and she remains coldly obsessed with avenging his death. But Arturo de Manzano is intent on distracting her with his muscled fighter’s body—and the ice around her heart is soon in danger of melting….
The Holly And The Viking
Rhiannon MacEgan wants to get married, to start a family, but unfortunately her overprotective father keeps scaring off any and all men who show an interest in her. Getting lost in a snowstorm, she ends up being rescued by a fierce looking Viking named Kaall. When he is wounded while rescuing her, Rhiannon ignores his surliness and tends to him. Naturally, one thing leads to another. Nothing necessarily wrong with this, except for the minor detail that Kaal is the man who killed her cousin Brianna’s husband. Awkward!
This is a good story, but unfortunately some of the emotional punch is taken out of it because the author spills too many details in the previous, Brianna’s, story. There are some lovely elements here that could have served as twists, or surprises, leaving readers gasping. But….we already know it all going in. So it does drain away some of the suspense. That being said, it’s still a well-told story and there is certainly enough conflict to keep the pages turning.
Grade : B-
Lost in a snowstorm, Rhiannon MacEgan is rescued by a fierce Viking. Her lonely soul instantly finds its mate in Kaall, but can they ever be together? For not only is Kaall blind, he’s also her beloved cousin’s most hated enemy….
A Season To Forgive
A former lady-in-waiting, Adriana de Manzano met Liam MacEgan while he was fighting in the Crusades. They fell in love, and when Liam “betrays” the King, Adriana makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his life. Now back in Ireland, the two are betrothed, and Liam knows nothing of what Adriana endured. Now her secrets are coming between them, and an old enemy soon arrives to the shores.
This story really didn’t work for me, mostly because after the Big Secret gets aired, Liam wonders if he can “forgive” Adriana. WHAT IS THERE TO FORGIVE HER FOR?!?! SHE SAVED YOUR LIFE YOU UNGRATEFUL JACKASS!!!! Ugh! The author eventually backtracks on this by exploring Liam’s feelings of guilt and inadequacy, but by then I was so annoyed with him I just couldn’t stand the sight of his face. The author has explored a theme similar to this one in another MacEgan book, Surrender to the Irish Warrior, which was a really great, and emotionally draining, read. Skip this last story and hunt down that book instead.
Adriana de Manzano is betrothed to Liam MacEgan, a man she absolutely adores. But she’s hiding a terrible secret. To save Liam’s life in the Holy Land she was forced to betray him. If she tells this proud warrior the truth, can he ever forgive her?
While the last story doesn’t work for me, the other two are pleasant reads with a subtle, well-done holiday theme. While I think newbies can and will enjoy this anthology, this is a real treat for MacEgan fans, a nice way to revisit past characters. The author integrates them well into the stories, and the past couples don’t fall into the trap of cutesy, saccharine public displays of affection. A holiday anthology with an edge to it.
Overall Grade: B-
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: