The Guardian (Return of the Highlanders)

My rating: 5 of 5 flames

I didn’t think the back of the book made this one sound all the interesting, to be honest, but man was I mistaken!

From the first word I was hooked. I read so late that my husband actually turned the light off on me! I put it down,and while the kids were at swim lessons, I picked up my Nook and kept reading. I felt so much anticipation from this one, I swear I have heart palpitations.

The book opens with 4 boys visiting a witch. I was intrigued. Next up is a forced marriage. I was interested. Then the 4 heroes of the series were captured. I was hooked. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good Highlander book-they don’t call me the Highland Hussy for nothing!

In a mistaken circumstance, Ian is forced to wed 13 yr old Sileas (this is the 1500s, so that’s not as bad as it sounds, plus Ian is like 17). For Sileas, not only is Ian the one she’s wanted since she could toddle after him, he has been her protector, her savior, her guardian in all things. But this was not how she wanted him.

The forced wedding is awful. Not only is it Sileas’ worst day of her life, but Ian is forced at knife-point to say his vows. The morning after the wedding, he bails. Ian and his 4 best buds go off to France and he tries his best to ever forget he was married. The only reason he comes back at all is that his clan is attacked and his father gravely injured. He and his friends Connor, Duncan, and Alex are inseparable, so they all return.

Ian’s plan is to annul the marriage to his child-bride…but he not once ever thought that she might have grown up. His child-bride is no longer a child.

Sileas is the heir to knock castle, and her lands are important to any clan that can get its hands on the castle. Not only has she grown into a beautiful young woman, she is basically the glue holding the family together. She also has a line of suitors waiting for her to give up hope on her estranged husband.

With one look at Sileas, Ian is a goner…but he doesn’t recognize his wife in the sultry young redhead. When he finally does, she has run off because not only did Ian snub her at their wedding, he snubbed her the day after by leaving, and every day since in not coming home. To not even acknowledge his wife in front of the clan? Major faux pas.

It seriously takes Ian like a week to realize that he actually wants to keep Sileas as wife, and that he needs to do more than crawl naked into her bed (yeah, the idiot did that!). I loved watching Ian have to work for Sileas’ attention and affection. A few of my favorite quotes:

“You are mine, he said pausing to look at her with burning eyes. “And I’m claiming every inch of ye.”

“When she was a wee thing, she trusted him to rescue her from mishaps. And now that she was a woman, she trusted him with her heart. He would do his best to deserve it, now and always.”

I have a feeling that all of the politics involved in this book are super important for the series. Everything from Connor’s chieftainship, to Knock Castle. There was a visit to Stirling where Sileas tried to get the queen to annul her marriage-what a scary place, Court, I mean. All the backstabbing and awful awful things going on…I was very satisfied with how that turned out, but I know that Douglas will play an important part in the series-he’s too evil and wily to just fade away.

The ending and all of the events leading up to it were tied in together so neatly (but not too nice and neat, otherwise there wouldn’t be a series!) and made me feel that Ian had redeemed himself for leaving Sileas and his clan.

Final verdict? I have 2 of Margaret Mallory’s books on my nightstand and I am seriously wondering why I’ve never read them? I will be reading her backlist this week.