Wow, what an amazing first book! This is book one in the Highland Guard series, and I was more than impressed. Sometimes an author comes along who puts so much history into a novel that it is like reading a textbook. Monica McCarty is NOT one of those, in fact the history of William Wallace and the time of the Bruce was inserted so seamlessly that it hardly felt like I was reading history. It was part of the story, and part of Christina and Tor’s romance.
Christina’s father is a noble who hates King Edward,and his 3 year imprisonment has left him bitter. When the rumors start of the Bruce wanting to oust King Edward, her father is forefront with wanting in. Christina and her sister Beatrix are to be used as a bargaining tool for the Highland Chief Tor MacLeod. Basically whichever of the girls appeals to him, he can have as a bride. Too bad he doesn’t care.
Tor has his own problems. His twin brother abducted a girl to be his bride, and they ran off. A love match. The problem? Tor’s clan and his brother’s bride’s clan don’t get along. Meanwhile, he wants to stay neutral in the Edward/Bruce conflict. But he is the best at training soldiers, and the Bruce wants Tor to train an elite guard (about 10 men) who are the best at what they do, tracking, hunting, swords, fighting, etc, and to teach these men to put their differences aside in order to work together. Ms. McCarty has dubbed it “Special Ops in kilts.” So so true. Imagine Navy seals made from the fiercest Highland Warriors. Oh and an English knight.
Christina’s father has a plan to make Tor agree. Once seeing the ethereal beauty of Beatrix, or the sultry, curvy Christina, Tor should be eating out of his hand, right? Nope. So Christina’s father says he will put Beatrix (a beauty, but better suited for the convent, than the marriage bed) in bed with the MacLeod chief and hope that he can “find” them together, thus forcing the marriage. Christina agrees to do it, to save her sister. Meanwhile, Tor wakes to find a voluptuous wench in his bed, and thanking his host for his hospitality, endeavors to put Christina out of his mind. Oops! He takes her in the dark, from behind, and realizes his mistake as her father barges in with “witnesses.” Christina realizes 2 things- 1 her father meant for that to happen, and 2 Tor has no desire to marry Christina.
Tor is convinced to both marry Christina, and train the elite soldiers, but he is not happy about it.
Christina wants nothing more than a home and a man to love. Her romantic ideals cause her to believe Tor is that man. Tor, however does his utmost to dash her illusions. And yet he finds himself wanting to please her, and he can’t keep her from his mind.
At one point, Christina is used by a spy among the MacLeod people to flush Tor out. She endangers the whole mission by running the missive to Tor, but she also lead the spies right to him! Tor tells her in no uncertain terms that she is to stay out of his life, and to stay away from anything that does not directly relate to her duties as lady of the keep. Her heart broken, Christina runs from him. Unfortunately she is captured by the English and used as a ransom. But she never was one to keep idle; thinking only of escape, Christina does a fairly good job of escaping, until tor and his Special Ops team shows and takes out close to 100 men! And it’s believable! Monica McCarty does an amazing job of weaving history and romance plus the added bonus of hunky Highland warriors throughout this book, and I for one, can NOT wait until the end of August to find out more in The Hawk: A Highland Guard Novel