Review by Em
The Wild Warriners aren’t quite as wild as Ms. Heath might like you to believe… but they are sexy as hell and they have a way with the ladies. In this third novel, featuring the ‘brainy’ one – Dr. Joe Warriner – Ms. Heath masterfully showcases her grasp of period medicine and the effect of trauma on a woman’s psyche whilst crafting a memorable and romantic love story between her two principal characters. In A Warriner to Tempt Her our hero, who initially lets his little head lead lead him on a merry chase for the wrong woman, more than meets his match when he falls in love with the beautiful, shy Lady Isabella Beaumont. His wild reputation and her damaged heart result in a supremely smart and satisfying slow burn love story. Ms. Heath gets better with every novel she produces, and though A Warriner to Tempt Her works as a standalone, I recommend you read the earlier (enjoyable) books in the series first for context and… well, because they’re pretty great too.
After completing his medical training, Dr. Joe Warriner has returned home to Retford to establish his medical practice. Unfortunately, despite the Warriners recent good deeds, the community continues to treat the family with contempt – a legacy of his father and grandfather’s debauched and dishonest past behavior. Locals have largely eschewed his care, opting instead to rely on the old fashioned Dr. Bentley; fortunately for Joe, Dr. Bentley refuses to treat those who can’t afford his services, and these Retford citizens keep Joe busy, as does the local foundling home established by his sister-in-law Letty. Joe, who keeps up with the latest medical advances and practices, treats his patients with care and compassion.
Despite his busy schedule, Joe finds himself distracted by daydreams about the incomparable Lady Clarissa Beaumont, eldest daughter of the Earl of Braxton. He’s arranged his schedule so that he can watch the lovely Lady Clarissa exit her carriage every Tuesday and Friday afternoon between his appointments, and as A Warriner to Tempt Her begins, he’s at the window salivating watching her emerge from the Beaumont carriage. He’s thrilled to catch a forbidden glimpse of her slender ankles until he trains his eyes upwards and discovers the lovely ankles (and the lithe body) don’t belong to Lady Clarissa at all – but instead, to her standoffish and awkward sister Isabella. Joe’s seen Isabella volunteering during his rounds in the infirmary at the foundling home, but she’s never paid him any attention. Disappointed to miss Lady Clarissa, he turns away from the window, but not before he acknowledges how surprisingly attractive Lady Isabella is.
After a traumatic assault and a series of increasingly terrifying medical ‘treatments,’ Isabella Beaumont convinced her father to remove the family to the small town of Retford in a last ditch attempt to recover. Every day she feels mentally stronger, and days spent volunteering at the local infirmary and foundling home have given her an opportunity to get out on her own – and to feel useful once again. She’s grown accustomed to traveling with her sister to town, but Clarissa, who’s grown increasingly impatient with Isabella’s recovery, is no longer willing to accompany her. So, on the morning our story begins, Isabella has made the journey alone, exited the carriage and is desperately trying to summon the courage to cross the square. She just taken her first steps when a cartload of vegetables overturns in her path and she missteps, spraining her ankle. To her dismay and humiliation, she’s unable to stand on her own; Dr. Warriner is summoned from his nearby surgery to help, and to her absolute mortification, he plucks her up off the ground and carries her across the square to examine her leg.
Isabella’s sprained ankle – and Joe’s subsequent visits to check on his patient – change their relationship. He initially assumes she’s standoffish because she’s rude, and she, recognizing his interest in her sister, resigns herself to accepting whatever scraps of attention he’s willing to give her. But as they begin to know each other better, they form a friendship over their shared interest in medicine. Once Isabella recovers from her injury, she returns to her volunteer work, and Joe is happy to act as her mentor and teacher. The two dance around an attraction to each other whilst treating Joe’s patients… until events conspire to change the dynamic of their relationship once again.
Isabella is a smart and fiercely determined heroine, and I liked her very much. Though Ms. Heath alludes to her trauma throughout the story, it never overwhelms the narrative. Her assault is simply one aspect of her character and though it informs how she interacts with the world around her, it doesn’t define her – or her relationship with Joe. She’s interested in medicine and its uses, in the quality of care she provides to her patients, and in the handsome doctor… when smallpox spreads through the town and Joe is desperate for someone to listen to him, Isabella rises to the occasion. She delivers a fiery and passionate defense of Joe and his modern approach to stopping the disease in its tracks – and banishes a few ghosts at the same time. She’s magnificent and delivers a brilliant set-down to those who dare question her – and fortunately, her message resonates with those smart enough to listen to her.
Joe is similarly great – a brilliant doctor and a smart man, and he gives 100% to his patients and to Isabella, who gradually learns to trust him. I wasn’t crazy about his interest in Lady Clarissa (but he’s a man so…) and I LOVED ISABELLA right from the start. Lady Clarissa’s storyline didn’t enhance the story except maybe to highlight what a gem Isabella is… but fortunately, Joe is quick to realize the error of his ways. I loved his eventual slow and deliberate wooing of Isabella – and his gentle compassion once he realizes something dark lies in her past. Despite Isabella’s skittish response to his affectionate overtures, he perseveres. Their happily ever after is well deserved and hard won, and it’s lovely in every way.
Although the chemistry between Joe and Isabella is intense from the beginning, Ms. Heath doesn’t rush the slow development of their intimate relationship. Their friendship and subsequent love affair are perfectly paced and the partnership between them is powerfully moving. Meanwhile, the author deftly balances the other major themes in this novel: Joe’s modern approach to medicine, including his willingness to train Isabella (a radical idea at the time) – shown in sharp contrast to Dr. Bentley and his archaic practices; and the traumatic attack on Isabella and its aftermath. I particularly loved how Ms. Heath sympathetically handled the Beaumont family and their confusion/bewilderment/sorrow following the attack on their daughter – and how their response made Isabella feel – and it’s a moving portrait of a family in crisis trying and failing to help their daughter.
A Warriner to Tempt Her is a wonderful addition to the Wild Warriners series. Romantic, intense and educational, it’s a smart and refreshing change from more traditional regencies. I’m not sure which brother I’ve liked best – but Isabella is my favorite heroine by far.
Publisher and Release Date: Harlequin Historical, February 2018
Time and Setting: Regency England
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
A shy innocent
She’s wary of all men.
In this The Wild Warriners story, shy Lady Isabella Beaumont is perfectly happy to stay in the background and let her sister get all the attention from handsome suitors following a shocking incident. However working with Dr Joseph Warriner to help the sick and needy pushes her closer to a man than she’s ever been before. Is this a man worth trusting with her deepest of desires..?