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This is the 6th book in Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series, and it’s an intense ride. This book, like the last, is extremely emotional, and extremely realistic.
At age 14 Mary is married to her knight in shining armor, the Earl of Atholl. It isn’t long before his armor starts to dull. Mary though, ever in love with him, tries her hardest to get him to love her. To Atholl, she was a child bride, and he never really stopped seeing her as a child. He was a champion, he was famous, he was a hero. His courtly ways entranced Mary from the get-to. But her childhood infatuation was crushed when she found out he wasn’t ever in her bed because he was in, well, pretty much every other woman’s bed.
And then he is branded a traitor and hanged, his head placed on a pike. Mary’s twin Janet comes and tries to take her back to Scotland, but that ends with disastrous results-Janet is swept away after a bridge explodes, and no one has seen or heard from her since. Mary is stranded in England, widow of a traitor, has to find a way to survive. And she does. And she does it in England to stay close to her son. She keeps her head down, she stays off the king’s radar, because the last thing she wants is another marriage, and she tries to make her own way. (all of this is before chapter 1!!!)
She’s doing alright, until she’s asked to go to Scotland and spy on the Bruce (her brother-in-law). This is where we see Mary start to come to life. She meets Kenneth and one of the hottest scenes I’ve ever read happens and I was entranced.
Mary is trying to forget Kenneth and go back to her normal life, while Kenneth is trying to become one of Bruce’s elite warriors and going through hell to prove himself.
And then they meet again.
Wow, the emotional toll this book took on me was insane. I felt both exhilarated and drained at the same time. The intensity of the war going on, that any minute Kenneth could be caught, of the secrets between them coming out…
You don’t want to miss this one.
The ending was wonderful. I loved it, I loved the way Kenneth and Mary came together, and I really really really loved the ending. An amazing story full of the rich history of the time, The Recruit is one of my favorite books of the year.
***ARC courtesy of netgalley