The Strongest Heart

Book 3 in The Clan Donald Saga

Fiction - Historical - Personage
344 Pages
Reviewed on 08/31/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Strongest Heart: Book 3 in The Clan Donald Saga by Regan Walker is a continuation of the story of the Lord of the Isles in Scotland, set in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century. Donald of Islay is the new Lord of the Isles and is determined to keep his titles, land, and the independence of the Isles. Oxford-educated, intelligent, and handsome, Donald would be a wonderful catch for any young maiden; however, Donald’s father had betrothed him, as a young boy, to Mariota, heiress to the Earldom of Ross. Scotland was without a king and the Albany Stewarts were determined to use this to their advantage and ultimately rule over all of Scotland including Donald’s beloved Isles. Ross would prove to be an excellent buffer to the Stewarts and, to seal the deal, the beautiful Mariota was not only intelligent but also warm and loving, the perfect companion for Lord Donald. Facing betrayal within his own family, the threat from the Duke of Albany, and the ever-present threat of the English monarchy, Donald would have his hands full protecting his clans and lands. Never one to shirk his responsibilities, Donald and his clan warriors seek to cement their place in Scottish history at the Battle of Harlaw.

I have read the first two books in this series and enjoyed both immensely so when presented with the opportunity to read The Strongest Heart, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed. This story continues the wonderful immersion into the lives of these fabled characters of Scottish lore. Author Regan Walker has a talent for bringing these legendary figures to life and imbuing them with character and personality that any reader can relate to. From what is often scant historical data that tells of little more than dates and events, the author weaves a magical tale of courage, love, and devotion that carries the reader seamlessly through the narrative. What I particularly enjoy about these novels and this one in particular is the wonderful relationships that the author creates; in this case between Donald and Mariota. At a time when daughters and women, in general, were often seen as nothing more than pawns in strategic alliances, to be married off at a father’s whim to cement neighboring friendships, theirs was a marriage of love, respect, and value. Mariota’s insight was undoubtedly of immense worth to Donald in his decision-making. I particularly enjoyed Donald’s attitude at the end of the Battle of Harlaw when considering whether to continue and sack Aberdeen. In many ways this was a summation of what was important to Donald and where his priorities truly lay; in the peaceful and fruitful existence of his people; the people of the Kingdom of Isles. This is a fantastic read, with plenty of action and fighting for those who enjoy it but at the core, this is a love story; Lord Donald’s love for Mariota, his family, his people, and his beloved Isles. I can highly recommend this read.