Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Leeane H. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Paranormal Romance category.

The summary:

An ancient evil rises. An ancient warrior awakens. 

In an age clouded by legend, Gawain was one of King Arthur’s greatest knights. When he awakens centuries after the fall of Camelot, he faces his most daunting quest yet—the search for his missing companions. His hope is that Tamsin Greene, the alluring historian at Medievaland Theme Park, can help him. Then he senses the magic within her… Gawain will now have to trust a witch—and his own heart—to rouse the knights of the Round Table and save humanity from a faery onslaught.

Here is Leeane H.’s review:

This book reads like the R-rated cousin of a BBC Merlin episode. Some cheesy writing and slightly rushed plot points: check. Knights of the Round Table making questionable decisions: check. A badass sorcerer who takes no shit and saves literally everyone, all the time: check and mate.

As a huge Merlin fan, overall, I enjoyed myself.

Merlin & King Arthur clapping

The reasons why:

Tamsin Greene, healer, witch, and historian extraordinaire. Tamsin is following in her missing they-never-found-the-body dead father’s footsteps by leaving her small town coven to track down Merlin’s missing books. Since she is a trained medieval historian, she’s using a job as a tour guide at Medievaland fun park as a cover. (Every time Medievaland was mentioned, I thought of this video, by the way. You’re welcome.)

Enter Gawain, of “Gawain and the Green Knight” Round Table fame.

King Arthur waggling his eyebrows with the caption of How You Doin

Oh, Gawain. You strong, hunky, loyal, chivalrous . . . doofus. Okay, that’s harsh. He’s a skilled warrior and a gifted strategist. He’s dedicated, hardworking, and extremely loyal. He can be a bit possessive and definitely falls on the alpha end of the hero spectrum. But he’s also . . . a little bit . . . blah?

Their meet-cute tells you everything you need to know:

He made a noise of amusement. “Historians are meant to be old men in robes and soup-stained beards. A golden-haired sylph is a pleasant surprise.”

“Hey, that’s sexist–”

“You may call me Gawain,” he interrupted, as if he had no time to waste.

Uh-huh.

This is where I had to give Gawain a bit of a break. After all, he’s been sleeping in stone for thousands of years, only to wake up and find that the world had changed juuuust a little. Add to that the urgency of finding Arthur’s tomb in order to waken the former king and defeat the nefarious Mordred, and Gawain is in a *bit* of a tight spot. On the whole, his adjustment period goes pretty well.

Then he finds out Tamsin is a witch.

An angry king yelling about sorcery

Yeah, he’s not really into that.

Turns out Gawain has a . . . history . . . with witches. No pun intended.

Despite his misgivings, especially since she’s HAWT, Gawain accepts Tamsin as a reluctant ally in his quest to retrieve Merlin’s books and, using the books, find Arthur’s tomb. Gawain gets to reunite with his king. Tamsin gets to return triumphant to her coven and rise above coven politics. No animals, fae, humans, or witches are hurt in the making of this adventure.

Except not.

See, as a virtual non-reader of paranormal and a generally squeamish person, there were some torture sequences that didn’t exactly thrill me. On the whole, I felt like we spent too much time following Mordred et al and their villainous deeds, instead of leaning into the emotional development of Gawain and Tamsin. And then when there WERE emotional revelations, the characters either moved on from them far too quickly or prioritized them over, I don’t know, life-threatening situations. For example:

After encountering some pushback from a mysterious magic user and falling into a magic-induced coma, Tamsin has to be warmed back to life by Gawain’s shirtless body (natch).
When she awakens, this is their exchange:

“I want to kiss you,” he repeated.

“Oh.” She hesitated so long he was certain she would push away. But then she gave a slow blink that changed the knot in his gut to a liquid heat lower down. “If you’re sure you want to.” The statement was half a tease, but there was a painful honesty in it, too.

“I am.” He brushed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “I can think of nothing more pleasant right now.”

Really? NOTHING?

Guinevere from Merlin looking skeptical with the caption Does Not Seem Legit

Maybe it’s because I’m a generally anxious person, but if I were involved with someone who’d almost just died, my priority would be 1) finding out why, 2) finding out how to stop it, 3) making a plan so it doesn’t come back to bite us in the ass. THEN you can make out. Why is this so hard?

Overall, the book diverges from my favorite Merlin episodes in one key way: it never quite convinces me of its emotional core. Yes, I love Tamsin and her ass-kicking. There are even some awesome moments wherein she saves herself, no Gawain required. I’m definitely here for that, which is why I made it through the book. 100% Tamsin fangirl fo’ lyfe.

If you enjoy a little bit of Arthurian legend mixed with your plot and romance, and you want an entertaining good time that probably won’t end up on your keeper shelf, this is the book for you. Especially if you can overlook certain little disappointments. And possibly a big one:

Merlin saying that there must be another Arthur because this one's an idiot

‘Nuff said.

This book is available from:
Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood

February 1, 2016

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