The Plot (with Spoilers)
Mark this down as one of those books where the hero first catches sight of the heroine bathing.
Ruy and Mirjana are from two different cultures: she is a princess from Al-Andalus, while Ruy is a knight for the kingdom of Castile y Leon. She will become his captive, but will he become the captive of her heart? For despite their great disparities, the pair quickly bond and engage in a forbidden romance.
No matter the obstacles that fall in their way, the betrayals, lies, and tragedies, they still love each other. Ruy’s and Mirjana’s relationship is intense & steadfast.
For that reason, let me get this right out of the way: the ending is not a conventional one. Even so, I was satisfied with the conclusion because there is no denying Ruy and Mirjana desperately love each other and will do their best to succeed.
Despite the unorthodox-yet-still-happily-ever-after ending there is no denying Ruy de Bivar’s and Mirjana’s deep and abiding affection for the other. You know they will make it through together until their deaths.
***SPOILER ALERT*** Besides, Ruy did wed Jimena, ward of the King of Castile, so this is historically accurate. ***END SPOILER***
Not that I can say that for the rest of the book. Historical accuracy… That’s not a word that can be applied to this book (or pretty much any Fern Michaels’ historicals, for that matter!). Although this is a fictional romance novel, it is written about the greatest Spanish warrior of all time, El Cid, and never does the reader witness any of Cid’s heroic valor. Where’s the action, the battles, the killings?
We only know that Ruy is the El Cid of history because the book tells us so. He’s a very nice hero, but that could have been anybody else in history. He’s very tender but not much a warrior. It’s surprising that Fern Michaels, who created one of the worst, most piggish heroes ever in Regan van der Rhys from the Captive series, could imagine such a noble hero as her fictional Ruy Diaz de Bivar.
Also, the fact that Ruy’s mistress was an Arab princess was not something to be taken lightly by his peers. There should have been some more conflict from them. Or perhaps not. Mirjana and Ruy faced enough hardship as it was: loss of family, abandonment, deaths, and the wrath of manipulative rulers.
Final Analysis of Tender Warrior
I would have loved to give Tender Warrior 5 stars because it’s a truly romantically sweet bodice ripper, and you never doubt the sincerity of the protagonists’ love.
However, Michaels dropped the ball when she decided to write about El Cid. Ruy is a great, loving hero to the heartbroken Mirjana, but that could have been anybody else in history, too. What a wasted opportunity! All he had to do was kick a few guys’ bums, slay some enemies, and rally his troops to victory. That would have reinforced his tough-guy image. That would have been a story worthy of El Cid.
Nevertheless, of ordinary Ruy Diaz de Bivar and his beloved Mirjana, it was a fine tale. Kudos to Fern Michaels for this harrowing romance, filled with scheming enemies, sad tragedy, and passion galore.