Series: Highland Guard #6
Publication Date: 30th October 2012
Book Source: Random House & NetGalley
Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce is retaking his kingdom from the invading English. To win, he’ll need all the grit and courage of his elite band of warriors, the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.
Fiery, aggressive, and bold, Kenneth Sutherland is a true champion—skilled with any weapon and driven to win. Now Kenneth is ready for his greatest challenge: joining Robert the Bruce’s secret army to fight among the elite. Kenneth’s best chance to attain that honor is by winning the Highland Games. Focused and prepared for victory, he is caught off guard by a lovely wisp of a woman—and a stolen moment of wicked seduction. Her innocent arousal and her shameless hunger fire his blood. He will win his place in the guard—and in Mary of Mar’s bed.
The ruggedly handsome hero-in-the-making stirs a heart that should know better. Mary vows that her surrender will be sport only—no promises, no heartbreak, just one night of incredible passion. Nothing, she swears, will persuade her to give up her hard-wrought independence and put her fate in the hands of another powerful man. But with every gentle touch and heart-pounding kiss, Kenneth makes her want more. Now Mary wants his heart. But is this determined champion willing to surrender everything for love?
My reading heart belongs in the Scottish Highlands. Many years ago after a reading dry spell I picked up Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (known as Cross Stitch here in Australia) series and have never looked back. Since those days I’m always on the lookout for authors writing anything set in Scotland. I can’t recall who it was that put me on to Monica’s novels but I shall be eternally grateful. What really grabs my interest is the mix of historical fact interwoven with a wonderful tale of fiction and romance and in my eyes Monica has a knack for getting that perfect; I guarantee you’ll be mesmerised from the first page to the last.
Monica’s Highland Guard series is set in the early 1300’s around Scotland's King Robert the Bruce retaking his kingdom from the invading English. In his desire to win, he has put together an elite band of warriors, known as the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.
The Recruit is book 6 in the Highland Guard series. I would say that you could read this book as a stand-alone but you will gain so much more in your reading if you read the series in order. It is so worth your time and your money.
If you’ve read the other books in this series you will recall we met Kenneth Sutherland in The Saint, the story of Magnus McKay (“Saint”) and Helen Sutherland, Kenneth’s sister. There was certainly no love lost between the McKays and the Sutherland clans and Kenneth had prevented Magnus’ marriage to Helen years before when he forced her to choose between her clan and McKay. Kenneth is a bit of a hot head but is now trying to prove his worth and earn his place in the elite Highland Guard alongside McKay.
Kenneth’s best chance of earning his place is to compete and win every event at the Highland Games. It is at the Games that his path crosses with Mary of Mar and he feels a very strong physical attraction to Mary. Kenneth has never been one to have to chase a woman as they usually fall at his feet.
Mary likewise feels the attraction but knowing that Robert the Bruce may be proposing a marriage between the two, keeps her identify from Kenneth in their first encounters. Robert and Mary have familial connections through marriage and Robert the Bruce would dearly love to have Mary and her son back on Scottish soil. Mary has no desire to marry again and does her best to guard her heart. Mary of Mar was married to the Earl of Atholl when she was much younger and had her heart broken not only by his infidelity but also when he ‘jumped sides’ in the war and was hanged by the English King Edward for treason. Her main focus is to become closer to and protect her son who was taken from her as an infant and is being closely watched on the English side of the border.
When Kenneth finds out exactly who Mary is he is furious with her that she has deceived him. Whilst he is competing in his last event at the Games she takes her leave and they are parted for a time before crossing paths again, but neither of them have forgotten the desire that passes between them.
It’s hard not to mention too much in my review without giving away spoilers so I’ll just say that if you have a love for Scotland’s history then Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series is a MUST read for you.
If you find yourself confused by Scotland’s nobles and historical events Monica does a great job at the end of the novel explaining who's who and what’s what. Monica explains in simple terms what are true events and where she has embellished a little to make her story work.
The biggest problem for me when I’ve finished one of Monica’s books is the agonising wait for the next book in the series. I’m content for Ms McCarty to take all the time she needs though because I can’t imagine the time her research takes and each story is well worth the wait. How I wish Monica McCarty was my history teacher in high school ... I would have topped the class.
Highland Guard Series in order:
Check out Monica McCarty's website
Other series that are well worth the read:
MacLeods of Skye trilogy and The Campbell Trilogy
Review by Karen Barr