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Tender Warrior

Historical Book Review: Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels

historical romance review
Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Unknown
Published by: Ballantine
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Medieval Romance
Pages: 387
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Book Review: Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels


The Book

Tender Warrior by Fern Michaels was a surprisingly sensitive romance written during the author’s bodice ripper era.

Mark this down as one of those books where the hero first catches sight of the heroine bathing.

The Plot

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 heartDespitete their significant 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 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 love each other desperately and will do their best to succeed.


Besides, Ruy was married to Jimena, a ward of the King of Castile, so this is historically accurate. 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 each other. You know they will make it through together until their deaths.

My Opinion

Historical accuracy is 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 likable hero, but that could have been anybody else in history. He’s very tender but not much of 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 between 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.

Michaels dropped the ballon because she failed to make El Cid a warrior. 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, it was a fine tale of ordinary Ruy Diaz de Bivar and his beloved Mirjale. Kudos to Fern Michaels for this harrowing romance, filled with scheming enemies, sad tragedy, and passion galore.

4 stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3.8


Mirjana — reckless yet innocent, a princess of the Ottoman Empire, desperately begs El Cid to rescue her from the caravan taking her to a loveless marriage…

El Cid — fierce and ruthless, legend and power, betrays Mirjana, taking her captive to hold her for ransom. But even this most renowned warrior cannot defend himself against her brilliance, her beauty, her bewitching charms…

Explosive passion blazes between them, a fire that sears them both. Neither is prepared for the cruel attempts to tear them apart… neither can deny the raging desire that keeps them burning for that exquisite tenderness to be found only in each other’s arms…