Katarina of Rardove is the sole daughter of an English baron and an Irish princess. She has been defending and ruling Rardove for five years since her older, half brother's death. Katarina awaits the man Queen Elizabeth sent to test her loyalty and expects to marry him once she proves loyal. She mistakes the contingent of armed men heading to the castle as belonging to her new betrothed. Aodh tempts Katarina to give in to recklessness and her inner base nature. Fearful of the queen's wrath, she continually refuses to wed or relent to the charismatic Irish warlord's temptations. Unfairly branded a traitor, Katarina sides with Aodh and helps him negotiate alliances with the other Irish marshlords against the English queen's advancing army.
Aodh's tattooed skin reminds me somewhat of the Pictish people. For all his faults, I could not help but be charmed into liking Aodh Mac Con. I easily empathize with what drove Aodh to his many choices, the chief one among them is dedicating himself to becoming the English queen's lackey when the English were the ones who did him wrong. I especially like how he is not afraid to tweak or risk Queen Elizabeth's royal ire by going after what Aodh views as his. I love how despite his wants and desires, Aodh still honors his father and grandfather's dying wish of reclaiming Rardove. Aodh won me when he approves of Katarina's unladylike talents with weapons and encourages her to be true to her nature.
I love that Katarina is not the ordinary-type noblewoman. She manages to exceed everyone's expectation of her, including her own queen's, with her ingenuity of holding Rardove against war-like tribes with only a handful of men. Katarina proves continuously that she thinks first of her men and servants before herself. I like that about her person. She also knows her Irish neighbors and customs, enough to counsel Aodh on after the rascal manages to win her trust and allegiance. I respect Katarina's loyalty to her queen but her steadfast dedication to a queen who had wronged her on so many occasions annoyed me. I do understand her hesitation on accepting Aodh, how her fear of Queen Elizabeth's renowned displeasure determines her conduct and behavior.
CLAIMING HER is the first book in Kris Kennedy's new series, RENEGADES AND OUTLAWS. I love this author's stories. Kris Kennedy is my go-to author whenever I crave a book taking place in medieval Ireland. I wish more authors would consider writing in this mystical time period.
CLAIMING HER is a spellbinding story that delves into the wilds and murkiness of Irish history. Kris Kennedy waves such magic in her historicals, reminding me anew what it is about her writing that draws me. I cannot wait for more adventures in this series starting with Re.