Series: Highland Guard,
Published by Ballantine Books on October 18, 2011
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance
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Also in this series: The Saint
The war for Scotland's sovereignty rages on—as Robert the Bruce is crowned king and the Highland Guard, his elite fighting force of legendary warriors, battle for land . . . and love.
Prized for his snake-like stealth and deadly strikes, Lachlan “Viper” MacRuairi is a warrior to enlist but not to trust. His only loyalty is to his purse, his indifference sealed by bitter betrayal. All that changes when Lachlan is tasked to protect and deliver Bella MacDuff to the king’s coronation—and the proud, lushly sensual countess unwittingly challenges him to his greatest battle yet: to love again.
Passionate and devoted, Bella has defied Britain’s king and her own husband to place the crown on Bruce’s head—and pays a terrible price. She loses her daughter and her freedom to her husband’s vengeance. Imprisoned with barbaric cruelty, she vows to reclaim her child, even if it means selling her soul—and her body—to a dark, lethal warrior whose eyes glint like steel, but who makes her skin tingle and her breath race. Together they embark on a rogue mission with sinister twists and turns that threatens not only Bella’s gamble to save her daughter—but also her heart.
Lachlan MacRuairi has been fighting for the last two years to get back to Isabella “Bella” MacDuff. Bella and the family and friends of Robert the Bruce were captured during a mission that Lachlan was in charge of. He was assigned to guide them to safety by Robert the Bruce. After their capture the English kept them prisoner for the last two years. Lachlan has blamed himself for failing to protect Bella and the rest of the group. Bella and Bruce’s younger sister were the ones punished the most severely, by the English. Both have been imprisoned in a cage above two separate English strongholds.
For the last two years, Bella has cursed the sword for hire and scourge of the sea pirate, Lachlan. She trusted Lachlan and thought that he might have come to care for her. Bella has believed for the last two years that Lachlan betrayed them leading to their capture. She has kept her sanity and composure these last years with the thought that one day she and her daughter Joan will reunite. Bella has been fighting her way back to her daughter ever since she made the decision to help Robert the Bruce in his campaign to be the King of Scotland. The MacDuff family holds the hereditary right to enthrone Scotland’s kings. When Bella made the decision to crown Bruce as King in the years before her capture, she knew that she was risking everything to do what she felt was right. She believes that Bruce was Scotland’s best chance to help gain freedom from English rule.
From the moment Lachlan first laid eyes on Bella he experiences emotions that he tries to explain away as lust. Bella was married so neither acted on the undeniable pull between them. It’s been driving him crazy to know that Bella has been kept prisoner in such a horrific way. He and his fellow Highland Guards attempted a rescue mission previously without success but now he knows this time he’ll do whatever to set her free.
Second time is the charm and Lachlan successfully rescues Bella. The pull between them is still strong and this time there is no husband to come between them. However, Bella has reservations and doesn’t trust Lachlan, but she knows he is her best hope in helping her reunite with her daughter. Still, Lachlan is fighting the attraction and trying to maintain distance between them. But neither can fight what has been simmering for years. Will the bad boy of the Highland Guard and the heroine of Scotland risk it all for love?
It’s safe to say that the majority of Monica McCarty’s fans have been anticipating Lachlan MacRuairi’s story since The Chief. Lachlan’s character literally jumped off the pages since book one with his villainous persona and ‘I don’t give a shit about anyone else’ swagger. He was a mystery, and I for one wanted to find out what the heck makes this man tick. I was nervous about reading this book since I had built it up so much in my head. I was afraid that I would be left wanting but have no FEAR folks…Monica stepped right up and freaking knocked a home run for me. This book delivered and delivered and blew past my expectations.
Lachlan is not liked much but is respected for his skills within the Highland Guard group. His ‘I don’t give a shit attitude’ tends to rub people the wrong way. Readers finally learn the secrets of this man and oh what a heartbreaking past he has. Monica stayed true to the character of Lachlan in this story. Lachlan doesn’t apologize for who he is. You can either take him or leave him. But, the man that readers have been lead to believe has no morals or worries for others is so much more of a kind hearted man than I ever expected. I loved watching Lachlan fight the connection between Bella and himself. Bella’s stubbornness, pride and fighting spirit drives him crazy but these were also the reasons that made Lachlan want her more. I laughed every time Lachlan found himself worrying about her when he’s doesn’t give a fig about anyone else or when he realizes with just a touch of her hand on his arm can suddenly calm him and keep him from being an ass (or arse as like Lachlan likes to say..lol). I couldn’t help falling in love with this sexy gruff and brooding kilted man right along with Bella.
And wow what an amazing heroine Bella is. I knew that it would take a very special lady to worm her way into Lachlan’s heart. Boy did Monica give us a heroine for the ages. Bella is based off of a true Scotland heroine. Her fate in real life is vague. The real Bella was captured and imprisoned but no other accounts in history were recorded for her after the English moved her from the cage. So this is a great retelling of history and a much more fitting ending for Bella that Monica created in The Viper. Bella is a fierce lady. She defies England and her marriage to do what she feels is right. It takes some big balls to do that and survive all that she had to in this book. I related to her character very much when it came to the storyline surrounding her daughter. My heart broke for her and then it cheered for her.
And OMG do these two sizzle either in verbal battle against one another or in the loving. There were many poignant and beautiful moments between them. I loved watching them slowly open their hearts to each other and fall in love. It was also wonderful to be back in Scotland in the thick of things with these Highland Guards. I enjoyed getting to know some of the Guards that do not have a book yet. Gordon is one that I am definitely interested in. His character and interaction with Lachlan provided some of the lighter moments in this book. I love how the Guards like to needle and pick on each other. It was great seeing how far they have come and how effortlessly it has become for these men who are not clansman to work so wonderfully together. The epilogue that Monica added was a wonderful surprise and I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing more of Joan and a certain Guard. 🙂
From the first chapter and until the very last pages including the author’s note, I was hooked. I read it in one night and the no sleep look the next day was well worth it. Monica continues to amaze me with her storytelling enriched with real life historical figures and events and blends them seamlessly with the fictional romance all in her head. I highly recommend this book and this series for fans of highlander stories. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
★ Book was read in October 2011. Review copy source is my own personal paperback copy. ★
Books in this Series:
- The Chief (Highland Guard, #1)
- The Hawk (Highland Guard, #2)
- The Ranger (Highland Guard, #3)
- The Viper (Highland Guard, #4) | My Review
- The Saint (Highland Guard, #5) | My Review
- The Recruit (Highland Guard, #6)
- The Hunter (Highland Guard, #7)
- The Knight – novella (Highland Guard, #7.5)
- The Raider (Highland Guard, #8)
- The Arrow (Highland Guard, #9)
- The Striker (Highland Guard, #10) – Coming 11/24/15
- The Rock (Highland Guard, #11) – Coming 12/29/15
- The Ghost (Highland Guard, #12) – Tentative June 2016
Just saw this book trailer for The Viper on Monica’s Facebook page. Talk about hot! Check it out.
RULES AND DETAILS (PLEASE READ THE RULES BEFORE YOU ENTER)
If you leave a comment under this post ONE reader of the blog will be entered for a chance at winning ALL of Monica’s book. That’s 10 books total. The more you comment the more your chances of winning will increase for TODAY. Each comment you leave will count as 1 entry.
Spread the word about the event on either Twitter, Facebook or your blog and your chances increase more. Each advertisement is one more entry. So you could earn a total of 3 entry points towards the whole 3 days event. You only have to spread the word once. Since this is a 3 day event you don’t have to do a Twit, Facebook or blog post for each day. Be sure to come back and leave comment under this post or the post from yesterday if you’ve spread the word!
- Today’s giveaway is open to US and International residents only where Book Depository ships to
- You MUST leave a comment with your e-mail address if it’s not on your profile so I can contact you if you win.
- You MUST answer this question: After getting to know the men from this series which Guard interests you most and why?
- Giveaway ends Oct. 23
- Tuesday’s (10/18) – Leave a comment under Tuesday’s post and THREE readers of the blog will be entered for a chance at a copy of The Viper
- Yesterday (10/19) – Leave a comment under yesterday’s post and TWO readers of the blog will be entered for a chance at all the books in the Highland Guard series to date (The Chief, The Hawk, The Ranger and The Viper)
- TODAY (10/20) – Leave a comment under this post and ONE reader of the blog will be entered for a chance at ALL of Monica McCarty’s books.