The Guardian (Return of the Highlanders Series #1)by Margaret Mallory
THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK I
Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.
After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes/b>
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THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK I
Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.
After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes home to find his clan in peril. To save his kin, he must right the wrongs from his past . . . and claim the bride he's long resisted.
As a young lass, Sìleas depended on Ian to play her knight in shining armor. But when his rescue attempt compromised her virtue, Ian was forced to marry against his wishes. Five years later, Sìleas has grown from an awkward girl into an independent beauty who knows she deserves better than the reluctant husband who preferred war to his wife. Now this devilishly handsome Highlander is finally falling in love. He wants a second chance with Sìleas - and he won't take no for an answer.
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By Mallory, Margaret
ForeverCopyright © 2011 Mallory, Margaret
All right reserved.
ISLE OF SKYE
Teàrlag MacDonald, the oldest living member of her clan and a seer of some repute, let her good eye travel slowly from boy to boy. Visitors to her tiny cottage at the edge of the sea were rare.
“What brings ye lads to come see me on this blustery night?”
“We want to know our future, Teàrlag,” young Connor said. “Can ye tell us what ye see for us?”
The boy who spoke was the chieftain’s second son, a strapping lad of twelve with the pitch-black hair of his mother’s side.
“Are ye sure ye want to hear?” she asked. “Most often I foretell death, did ye not know?”
The four lads exchanged glances, but none took a step toward the door. They were braver than most. Still, she wondered what led them to be crowding her cottage and dripping rain on her floor this particular night.
“Ye feared I might die before I foretold somethin’ about ye, is that it?”
She fixed her good eye on the youngest, a lad of ten with black hair like his cousin Connor’s and eyes as blue as the summer sky. The lad blushed, confirming her suspicion.
“Well, I don’t expect to die as soon as ye think, Ian MacDonald.”
Ian raised his eyebrows. “So ye know me, Teàrlag?”
“ ’Course I know ye. The three of ye,” she said, pointing her finger at Ian and his cousins Alex and Connor, “are my blood relations.”
Learning they were related to a woman with one eye and a hunched back did not appear to please them. She chuckled to herself as she turned to toss a handful of herbs on the fire. As it crackled and spit, she leaned forward to breathe in the tangy fumes. She could not call upon the sight at will, but sometimes the herbs made the vision clearer.
As soon as the boys entered her cottage, smelling of dogs, damp wool, and the sea, she had seen the orangey glow about them that signaled a vision was coming. It was unusual for her to see the glow around more than one person at a time. She suspected it was because the lads were close as thieves, but it was not for her to question her gift.
“Ye first,” she said, curling her finger at Ian.
The lad’s eyes grew big, but when one of the other boys gave him a shove, he came around the table to stand beside her.
Quick as a wink, she slipped a small, smooth stone into his gaping mouth. The stone did not help her see, but it added to the mystery and would keep him quiet.
“Don’t swallow the stone, laddie,” she said, “or it’ll kill ye.”
Ian turned wide eyes on his cousin Connor, who gave him a reassuring nod. She rested her hand on Ian’s head and closed her eyes. The vision, already forming from the moment he passed through her door, came quickly.
“Ye shall wed twice,” she said. “Once in anger and once in love.”
“Two wives!” Alex, the one with the fair hair of his Viking ancestors, hooted with laughter. “That will keep ye busy.”
Ian spit out the stone into his hand. “I didn’t want to know that, Teàrlag. Can ye not tell me something interesting… like how many battles I’ll fight in… or if I’ll die at sea?”
“I can’t command the sight, lad. If it chooses to speak of love and women, then so be it.” She looked to the others. “What of the rest of ye?”
The other three made faces as if she had given them one of her bitter-tasting remedies.
She cackled and slapped the table. “No so brave now, are ye, lads?”
“It is no fair for ye to hear about my two wives,” Ian said to the others, “unless I hear about yours.”
Alex gave the other two lads a lopsided grin and exchanged places with Ian.
“I don’t need the sight to know ye were born to give trouble to the lasses.” She shook her head. The boys would all be handsome men, but this one had the devil in his eye. “Shame, but there is nothin’ to be done about it.”
Alex grinned. “Sounds verra good to me.”
“Ach.” She popped a second stone from the dish on the table into Alex’s mouth and put her hand on his head. ’Twas good luck she had gathered pretty stones from the shore that morning.
“Tsk, tsk, this is no good at all. One day, ye’ll come across a woman so beautiful as to hurt your eyes, sittin’ on a rock in the sea.” She opened her eyes and thumped Alex on the chest. “Watch out for her, for she might be a selkie taking on her human form to lure ye to your death.”
“I’d rather have a selkie than two wives,” Ian grumbled from across the table.
For a MacDonald of Sleat to put away one wife to take another was common as grass. It seemed the way of it for them to break the hearts of the women who loved them.
Teàrlag closed her eyes again—and laughed so hard it made her cough. Ach, this was a surprise, for certain.
“Alex, I see ye courtin’ an ugly, pockmarked lass,” she said, wiping her eyes on her shawl. “I fear she is quite stout as well. And I don’t mean pleasing plump, mind ye.”
The other boys doubled over laughing until they were red-faced.
“I think ye are having fun with me,” Alex said, looking sideways at her. “Since I’ve no intention of marrying, I am sure that if I do, the lass would have to be verra, verra pretty.”
“I see what I see.” She gave Alex a push and motioned to Duncan. He was a big, red-haired lad whose mother had served as Connor’s nursemaid.
“This one has the blood of both the MacKinnon Sea Witch and the Celtic warrior queen, Scáthach, so mind ye keep him on your side,” she said, wagging her finger at the other three. To Duncan, she said, “That’s where ye get your fierceness—and your temper.”
Duncan stood still, his expression serious, as she put a stone in his mouth and rested her hand on his head.
Almost at once, a powerful feeling of loss and longing stole over her and weighed down her spirit. She lifted her hand, being too old to bear it for long.
“Are ye sure ye want to hear, laddie?” she asked softly.
Duncan gave her a level look and nodded.
“I fear you’ve sad days before ye,” she said, squeezing his shoulder. “But I will tell ye this. Sometimes, a man can change his future.”
Duncan spit out the stone and gave her a polite “Thank ye.”
The chieftain’s son was last.
“What I want to know is the future of our clan,” Connor said around the stone in his mouth. “Will we be safe and prosper in the years to come?”
His father had come to ask her the same question not long ago. All she had been able to tell him was that one day he would have to send this son away to keep him safe.
When she put her hand on Connor’s head, she heard the moans of the dying and saw men of her clan lying in a field soaked in Scottish blood. Then she saw the four lads as strong, young men, on a ship, crossing the sea. She grew weary as the visions continued, one after the other.
“Teàrlag, are ye well?” Connor asked.
When she opened her eyes, Alex handed her a cup of her own whiskey, saying, “A wee nip will do ye good.”
She narrowed her good eye at him as she drained the cup, wondering how he’d found it.
“I see many perils ahead for all of ye,” she said. “Ye must keep each other close, if ye are to have any hope of survivin’.”
The lads appeared unimpressed. As Highlanders, they knew without foretelling that their future held danger. And as lads, they found the notion more exciting than worrisome.
They were young, and a wise woman did not tell all she knew. After considering what might be of use for them to know, she said to Connor, “Ye want to know what ye must do to help the clan?”
“Aye, Teàrlag, I do.”
“Then I will tell ye,” she said, “the clan’s future will rest on ye choosin’ the right wife.”
“Me? But it’s my brother who will be chieftain.”
She shrugged. He would learn soon enough of the sorrows to come.
“Can ye tell me what woman I must choose, then?” Connor asked, worry furrowing his brow.
“Ach, the lass will choose ye,” she said, and pinched his cheek. “Ye just must be wise enough to know it.”
She looked to the cottage door just before the sound of the knock. Alex, who was closest, opened it and laughed when he saw the little girl with wild, unkempt red hair standing there.
“ ’Tis only Ian’s wee friend Sìleas,” he said, as he pulled her inside and shut the door against the cold.
The girl’s large green eyes took in the room, then settled on Ian.
“What are ye doing wandering alone outside in the dark?” Ian asked her.
“I came to find ye, Ian,” the girl said.
“How many times must I tell ye to be careful?” Ian tightened his mantle and turned to the others. “I’d best take her back to her da.”
The old woman thought the lass’s da should be skinned alive for letting the wee bairn wander about as he did. But he was not the sort of man who had much use for a daughter.
“Were ye no afraid the faeries would snatch ye?” she asked.
Sìleas shook her head. Ach, the poor child knew that the faeries steal only the children who are most precious to their parents.
“Come on, then,” Ian said, taking the wee girl’s hand. “I’ll tell ye a story about a selkie as we walk.”
Sìleas looked up at the lad, and her eyes shone as if God himself had sent the strongest and bravest warrior in all the Highlands to be her protector.
ISLE OF SKYE
Sìleas’s outstretched hands bumped and scraped against the rough earthen walls, touch replacing sight, as she raced through the blackness. Small creatures skittered before her, running in fear as she did.
But there was no echo of footsteps behind her. Yet.
A circle of gray light appeared ahead, signaling the end of the tunnel. When she reached it, Sìleas dropped to her hands and knees and crawled through the narrow opening, mud dragging at her skirts.
Brambles scratched her face and hands as she scrambled out the other side. A burst of clean sea air surrounded her, blowing away the dank, new-grave smell of the tunnel. Sìleas sucked in great lungfuls of it, but she had no time to stop.
Startled sheep stared or trotted out of her way as Sìleas clambered up the hill. She prayed that she had not already missed him. When she finally reached the path, she flattened herself behind a boulder to wait. Before she could catch her breath, she heard hoofbeats.
She had to be certain it was Ian. With her heart thudding in her ears, she peeked around the boulder.
As soon as the rider rounded the bend, she shouted his name and jumped out onto the path.
“That was dangerous, Sìl,” Ian said, after pulling his horse up hard. “I nearly rode over ye.”
Ian looked so handsome on his fine horse, with his dark hair flying and the glow of sunset shining all about him, that for a long moment Sìleas forgot the urgency of her trouble.
“What are ye doing out here?” Ian asked. “And how did ye get so filthy?”
“I’m escaping my step-da,” Sìleas said, coming back to herself. “I came out the secret tunnel when I saw them turn ye away at the front gate.”
“I was going to stay the night on my way home,” he said, “but they told me half the castle was ill with some pestilence and sent me away.”
“They lied to ye,” she said, reaching her hand up to him. “We must hurry before they notice I’m gone.”
Ian hoisted her up in front of him. Though her back stung like the devil, she leaned against him and sighed. She was safe.
She’d missed Ian these last months when he was off at the Scottish court and fighting on the border. This felt like old times, when she was a wee girl and Ian was always helping her out of one scrape or another.
But she was in trouble as never before. If she’d had a doubt about how dire her situation was, seeing the Green Lady hover over her bed weeping was a clear warning.
When Ian turned the horse back in the direction of the castle, she jerked upright and spun around to face him. “What are ye doing?”
“I’m taking ye back,” Ian said. “I’m no going to be accused of kidnapping.”
“But ye must get me away! The bastard intends to marry me to the worst of the MacKinnons.”
“Mind your tongue,” Ian said. “Ye shouldn’t call your step-da a bastard.”
“You’re no listening to me. The man is going to make me wed Angus MacKinnon.”
Ian stopped his horse. “Ye must be mistaken. Even your bastard of a step-da wouldn’t do that. All the same, I promise I’ll tell my da and uncle what ye said.”
“I’ll tell them myself when ye take me to them.”
Ian shook his head. “I’m no starting a clan war by stealing ye away. Even if what ye say is true, there will be no wedding soon. You’re a child yet.”
“I’m no child,” Sìleas said, folding her arms. “I’m thirteen.”
“Well, you’ve got no breasts,” Ian said, “and no man is going to want to marry ye until ye do—Oof! No need to jab me with that pointy elbow of yours just for speaking the truth.”
Sìleas fought against the sting in her eyes. After all that had happened to her today, this was hard to bear—especially coming from the man she planned to marry.
“If ye won’t help me, Ian MacDonald, I’ll walk.”
When she tried to slide down off the horse, Ian caught and held her. He took her face in his hand and rubbed his thumb lightly across her cheek—which made it devilishly difficult not to cry.
“I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, little one,” he said. “Ye can’t go off on your own. It’s a long way to the next house, and it’s near dark.”
“I’m no going back to the castle,” she said.
“I suppose if I take ye back, you’ll just sneak out the secret passageway again?”
“I will,” she said.
Ian sighed and turned his horse. “Then we’d best move fast. But if I’m hung for kidnapping, it’ll be on your head.”
Ian stopped to make camp when it grew too dark to see. If he didn’t have Sìleas with him, he’d be tempted to continue. But his family’s home was a fair distance yet, and it was risky to ride in the black of night.
He handed Sìleas half of his oatcakes and cheese, and they ate in silence. There would be hell to pay for this, all because she let that imagination of hers run wild again.
He glanced sideways at her. Poor Sìl. Her beautiful name, pronounced with a soft “Shh,” like a whisper in the ear, mocked her. She was a pathetic, scrawny thing with teeth too big for her and unruly red hair so bright it hurt the eyes. Even once she had breasts, no man was going to wed her for her looks.
At least she’d washed the mud off her face.
Ian rolled out his blanket and gave her a warning look. “Lie down and don’t say a word.”
“ ’Tis no my fault—”
“It is,” he said, “though ye know verra well no one is going to blame you.”
Sìleas scrunched herself into a ball on one side of the blanket and tucked her feet under her cloak.
Ian lay down with his back to her and wrapped his plaid around himself. It had been a long day of travel, and he was tired.
Just as he was drifting off to sleep, Sìleas shook his shoulder. “I hear something.”
Ian grabbed his claymore and sat up to listen.
“I think it’s a wild boar,” she whispered. “Or a verra large bear.”
Ian flopped back down with a groan. “ ’Tis only the wind blowing the trees. Have ye not tortured me enough for one day?”
He couldn’t go back to sleep with the wee lass shivering beside him. She had no meat on her bones to keep her warm.
“Sìl, are ye cold?” he asked.
“I am near death with it,” she said in a weak, mournful voice.
With a sigh, he rolled onto his back and spread his plaid over both of them.
Now he was wide awake. After staring at the tree branches whipping in the wind above him for a long while, he whispered, “Sìl, are ye awake?”
“I’m going to be married soon,” he said, and couldn’t help grinning to himself. “I met her at court in Stirling. I’ve come home to tell my parents.”
He felt Sìleas stiffen beside him.
“I’m as surprised as you,” he said. “I didn’t plan to wed for a few years yet, but when a man meets the right woman… Ah, Sìl, she is everything I want.”
Sìleas was quiet for a long time, then she asked in that funny, hoarse voice of hers, “What makes ye know she is right for ye?”
“Philippa is a rare beauty, I tell ye. She’s got sparkling eyes and silky, fair hair—and curves to make a man forget to breathe.”
“Hmmph. Is there nothing but her looks ye can say about this Philippa?”
“She’s as graceful as a faerie queen,” he said. “And she has a lovely, tinkling laugh.”
“And that is why ye want to marry her?”
Ian chuckled at Sìleas’s skeptical tone. “I shouldn’t tell ye this, little one. But there are women a man can have without marriage, and women he cannot. This one is of the second kind, and I want her verra, verra badly.”
He dropped an arm across Sìleas’s shoulder and drifted toward sleep with a smile on his face.
He must have slept like the dead, for he remembered nothing until he awoke to the sound of horses. In an instant, he threw off his plaid and stood with his claymore in his hands as three horsemen rode into their camp and began circling them. Though Ian recognized them as his clansmen, he did not lower his sword.
He glanced over his shoulder at Sìleas to be sure she was all right. She was sitting up with his plaid pulled over her head and was peering out at them from a peephole she had made in it.
“Could this be our own young Ian, back from fighting on the border?” one of the horsemen said.
“Why, so it is! We hear you had great success fighting the English,” another said, as the three continued circling. “It must be that the English sleep verra late.”
“I hear they wait politely for ye to choose the time and place to fight,” said the third. “For how else could a man sleep so soundly he doesn’t hear horses before they ride through his camp?”
Ian gritted his teeth as the men continued enjoying themselves at his expense.
“The English fight like women, so what can ye expect?” the first one said, as three more riders crowded into their camp.
“Speaking of women, who is the brave wench who is no afraid to share a bed with our fierce warrior?” another man called out.
“Your mother will murder ye for bringing a whore home,” another said, causing a round of laughter.
“I want to be there when she finds out,” the first one said. “Come, Ian, let us have a look at her.”
“I’ve no woman with me,” Ian said, flipping back the plaid to reveal the girl. “It is only Sìleas.”
Sìleas yanked the plaid back over herself and glared at all of them.
The horsemen went quiet. Following their gazes, Ian looked over his shoulder. His father and his uncle, who was the chieftain of their clan, had drawn their horses up at the edge of the camp.
There was no sound now, except for the horses’ snorting, as his father’s eyes moved from Ian to Sìleas, then back to Ian with a grim fury.
“Return home now, lads,” his uncle ordered the others. “We’ll follow shortly.”
His father dismounted but waited to speak until the other men were out of earshot.
“Explain yourself, Ian MacDonald,” his father said in a tone that used to signal that Ian was in for a rare beating.
“I don’t know how I could sleep through the approach of your horses, da. I—”
“Don’t play the fool with me,” his father shouted. “Ye know verra well I’m asking why ye are traveling alone with Sìleas—and why we find ye sharing a bed with her.”
“But I am not, da. Well, I suppose I am traveling with her, though I didn’t intend to,” Ian fumbled. “But we are no sharing a bed!”
His father’s face went from red to purple. “Don’t tell me I’m no seeing what’s plain as day before my eyes. There can be but one explanation for this. You’d best tell me the two of ye have run off and married in secret.”
“Of course we’ve not married.”
All the way home, Ian had imagined how his father’s eyes would fill with pride when he heard of Ian’s exploits fighting the English on the border. Instead, his father was speaking to him as if he were a lad guilty of a dangerous prank.
“We were no sharing a bed in the sense ye are suggesting, da,” Ian said, trying and failing to stay calm. “That would be disgusting. How could ye think it?”
“So why is the lass here with ye?” his father asked.
“Sìleas got it into her head that her step-da intends to wed her to one of the MacKinnons. I swear, she was going to run off alone if I didn’t bring her with me.”
His father squatted down next to Sìleas. “Are ye all right, lass?”
“I am, thank ye.” She looked pathetic, her skin pale against her tousled red hair and huddling like a small bird under his plaid.
His father gently took her hand between his huge ones. “Can you tell me what happened, lass?”
This was too much. His father was speaking to Sìleas as if she were the innocent in all of this.
“ ’Tis true that Ian didn’t want to help me. But I forced his hand because my step-da means to wed me to his son so they can claim Knock Castle.” She dropped her eyes and said in a shaky voice, “And it wasn’t just that, but I don’t wish to speak of the rest.”
Sìleas was always one to exaggerate. If she didn’t have Ian’s father in her hands before, she surely did now.
“ ’Tis a lucky chance the lass learned of their plan and got away,” Ian’s uncle said. “We can’t let the MacKinnons steal Knock Castle out from under us.”
His father stood and rested his hand on Ian’s shoulder. “I know ye didn’t intend to, but you’ve compromised Sìleas’s virtue.”
Ian’s stomach sank to his feet as he felt disaster coming. “But, da, that can’t be true. I’ve known Sìleas all her life. And she is so young, no one will think anything of my spending the night in the woods with her.”
“The men who found ye already believe the worst,” his father said. “ ’Tis bound to become known to others.”
“But nothing happened,” Ian insisted. “I never even thought of it!”
“That doesn’t matter,” his father said.
“This isn’t about Sìleas’s virtue, is it?” Ian said, leaning toward his father with his fists clenched. “It’s about keeping her lands from the MacKinnons.”
“There is that as well,” his father owned. “But ye have ruined Sìleas’s reputation, and there is only one way to set that aright. The two of you will be wed as soon as we get to the house.”
Ian was aghast. “No. I will not do it.”
“What ye will not do is shame your mother and me,” his father said, his eyes as hard as steel. “I expect honorable behavior from my sons, even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard.”
“Ye have a duty here, to the lass and to your clan,” his father said. “You’re a MacDonald, and ye will do what is required.”
“I’ll gather the men,” his uncle said. “I don’t expect the MacKinnons will be pleased when they hear the news.”
Sìleas was crying soundlessly, holding Ian’s plaid to her face and rocking back and forth.
“Pack up your things, lass,” his father said, giving her an awkward pat. “Ye must be wed before the MacKinnons come looking for ye.”
Excerpted from The Guardian by Mallory, Margaret Copyright © 2011 by Mallory, Margaret. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Meet the Author
Margaret Mallory abandoned a career as a lawyer to become a romance novelist. Why this surprised everyone, she doesn't know. Who wouldn't rather have thrilling adventures with handsome Highlanders than write briefs and memos? Margaret lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, a goofy dog, and a crabby cat. With her children off to college, she spends most of her time working on her next book in The Return of the Highlanders series. Margaret loves to hear from readers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Ian MacDonald knew his destiny was never to be Chieftain but serve faithfully to his cousin when the same came and always watch his back. He accepted his duties and stood proud to serve but forced to marry Sìleas out of honor and not love was more than Ian could stand. He stayed away from her after their forced marriage for 5 years fighting every battle he could find. Upon his return, he finds her not the scraggly child he remembers but the type of woman he wants to spend his life pleasuring. However, Ian has problems on several fronts to deal with. Sìleas is not going to run back into his arms after all these years of neglect and makes sure Ian knows that in order to share her bed and life he must figure out a way to win her over. There are many men standing in line ready to take her into their life but Ian has discovered that no other man will have, as she is his wife and his wife she will stay. Between courting his enchanting wife and trying to keep his cousin alive to take his rightful place as their Chieftain Ian has his hands full. There is a castle to conquer, an uncle to over throw and deals to be made that come close to having him sell his soul. There are trust issues between Ian and Sìleas to resolve but a MacDonald is a right and true clan that prove every day that they are men of honor and pride. Secrets are overturned that challenge everything Ian believes in and make Sìleas question his motives but that is nothing to the reward Ian sees to keeping Sìleas in his arms every night. This first book in the series is a complete winner and Ms. Mallory proves she knows how to write a winning historical story. Both Ian and Sìleas both have incredible personalities and such depth that you know the romance between them burns long into the night. I personally cannot wait for the next book!
Wow! Wow! And wow, again! Margaret Mallory's work is phenomenal!!! Not only did I love her writing, I loved the feeling of traveling to another place in time, and seeing the characters come to life. This is one rockin' hot book! It's filled with love, humor, and a little suspense and rolled into a book that kept me up long into the night, turning page after page, to see what the clansmen would be doing next..... The Gaurdian is filled with both lovable and not-so-lovable characters. Ian's character was my favorite. And, no, not just because he was the hero of the story. I loved his character for the way he grew in the story. Sileas' character was a sweet one, and I loved her part in the story as well, but, well, Ian really tugged my heart strings. Sweet Ian as a lad (it's Scotland...gotta throw the terms in and make it real!), the way he involved the wee lass Sileas in all the adventures that he and his cousins partook, was so sweet! It was passion way back then! Of course, the cousins were funny and sweet and added some kick to the story as well. I'll warn ya....this book is full of wonderful love and deep passion. Ian and Sileas have sparks flying all the time around them. But, when Ian takes of for 5 years to France, just after a forced wedding to a young Sileas, will she be able to forgive him and still claim him as her husband? Will he accept the fact that she is the one for him, even during the warring between clans? Yes, I most definitely recommend this 5 star start to a sure-to-be-a-hit series, to all you romance and historical lovers. Let Margaret Mallory's amazing skills and words, take you on a far away trip to a land of clans and cheiftans, love and passion in this historical romance novel! I can't wait until The Sinner (book 2) releases in November!
Reviewed by Valerie Source: eBook provided by NetGalley for review When the cover makes you swoon, what's a girl to do??? READ! After the blurb definitely got my attention and I started reading, I fell hard for the characters in this book as I read and am so glad that there will be more books in the series. One of the things I really loved about the sassy red-headed lass, Sìleas, is that she never gave up on her one true love, ever. She and Ian grew up in the same area and she often tagged along as he and his friends and cousins played. Time and again he would get her out of one mishap or another, until even he didn't realize the impact it would have on their lives. Finding oneself sleeping under the stars with an impressionable unmarried girl is a no-no. Sìleas and Ian find themselves married in the blink of an eye so that her reputation is saved... Fast forward to five years and Ian's returning to a beautiful, bitter, lonely wife that ignores him yet she's also the treasured daughter his parents never had and the sister his brother needed. To say Ian is confused is an understatement. I laughed when he realized the young girl he married had grown up in his absence and had other admirers. When his mom would mumble under her breath about men being thick skulled, I was chuckling with her. No matter how good his intentions, Ian is clumsy and continually puts his foot in his mouth anytime Sìleas is around him. This constant ring-around-the-rosy between these two characters was very entertaining. Besides the tug-of-war happening between the supposed husband and wife, add in jealous suitors, naked maids, overprotective family members, interfering friends, and lots and lots of enemy clansmen from all around the region. Everyone seems to want Sìleas' birthright, Knock Castle, including her husband. People get injured, killed, and betrayed as the power shifts between Ian's cousin and his half-uncle throughout much of the story. As well as having the area details and accents accurately portrayed, several customs and beliefs from the time are mentioned including women that have the power to heal and ghosts who make their intentions known. Will Sìleas and Ian ever come to an understanding and be happy? Who will ultimately become the head chieftain?
THE GUARDIAN by Margaret Mallory is an exciting historical romance set in 1500-1513 Isle of Skye,Scotland.This is the first of a new series "The Return of The Highlanders". It is well written with details and depths.It has many twists and turns.The characters are engaging,enchanting,strong,determined,and will capture your hearts. This story has romance,passion,Highlanders,some Lowlanders,family,clans,Scottish beauties,honor and love.Sileas,a wee bairn when her hero Ian was a young boy,has followed him and his three cousins everywhere.Ian was always there for her when she got into trouble.When Sileas finds out she is to be wedded to her evil step-da's son,Angus,she slips away into the night,through a tunnel,and runs into Ian who decides to help her.But things go awry and when they are found together by Ian's clan (his Da and uncle) they are forced to marry.Sileas,is the rightful heir to the Knock Castle.Buy While Ian is eighteen,Sileas is only thirteen and a jangly girl with orange colored hair,teeth to big for her mouth, and Ian doesn't want to be married.So he and his three cousins take off the night of the wedding for battle in France.When they learn after five years,of being gone that Connor's dad and brother where killed in a battle,they return.Ian finds his awkward girl bride has turned into a beautiful,sen sous young bride,who is independent and strong willed.Ian decides he is ready to be her husband,but not is Sileas not honored,but others will try to stop them.You see they never consummated their marriage.Sileas has been a great help to Ian's family/clan for she has keep things together,his Da was injured in the battle that took their chieftain.These four cousins will have to fight against all odds to save Connor,Alex,Duncan and help Ian and Sileas see they are destined to be together.Connor's uncle is determined to see Connor died instead of the chieftain he is to be. Sileas is kidnapped by her evil,foul smelling step-da,Connor and the others are severely injured,but Ian will fight anyone and anything to get his beloved Sileas back from harm's way.This is a fast paced,action packed,adventure filled new series that will leave you wanting more.It is a WOW from beginning to the last page.Watch for Book Two "The Sinner" coming in November 2011.You will not regret reading this new series.If you enjoy action filled Scottish Highlanders and their beauties you will definitely want to pick up "The Guardian" to ravish through.A Must read.This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be found at Forever ,an imprint of Grand Central Publishing and My Book Addiction and More.
In 1508 on the Isle of Skye Ian MacDonald rescues his thirteen year old friend Sileas from an unwanted marriage to Angus MacKinnon. However, his good deed as her knight in shining armor leaves Sileas compromised so his clan makes them marry. Ian knows she is too young to be a bride so he leaves. After five years away fighting as a warrior including recent time in a dungeon on the Isle of Mull whose laird lacks hospitality, he returns to his clan and his adoring wife. However, she is no longer the child bride who worshiped his every step. Instead Sileas is a mature woman who still loves her husband. He vows to be a good spouse to his beloved wife but must persuade her he plans to stay. The first Return of the Highlanders Scottish Isles historical romance is a terrific somewhat linear tale of a second chance at love. Ian left his child bride out of honor and duty as he loved her like a big brother does a younger sister; Sileas felt otherwise as she believed her love for him was adult and not puppy. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the warrior's return to a woman who still cherishes him with her heart, but this time he reciprocates with his soul. Harriet Klausner
I am a Highlander story junkie, and so I peruse B&N's books from time to time for new Highlander stories to read...and I stumbled upon Ms. Mallory's Return of the Highlanders series. I was so excited after I read the reviews...I immediately purchased this book, The Guardian, the first in the series. I just finished this story and I can tell you...I was delighted! I am also glad that there are several more books in this same series, so I purchased the second, the third and the fourth books so I can continue the stories uninterrupted. The research on Highland life that Ms. Mallory has done is obvious from the start: the weapons, the apparel, the food, the language, and the land seem so real from her descriptions that you feel like you are right there in the story alongside the characters. The wooing of the heroine by Ian and his clan's struggles really got my blood going in this story! I highly recommend this series to any reader.
I loved the humor in this book but I also felt if some guy left any women for 5 years an treated her deplorable when he gets back regardless of how he thought of her as a child one tiny half assed apology wouldnt cut it. it had the possibility of more heart wrenching drama and humor such as more skillet scenes. But definitely keeps you interested.
I have never been so hooked on a book started it last night and stayed up all noght to read it the charcters are great there is pleny of funny parts but also love and drama
I'm now a Highlander fan. Wonderfully written. I couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read the rest of the series :)
Great historical romance that i just couldnt put down and made me laugh.
I just loved this book great historical romance that i just couldnt put down and had some really funny parts too
The hero is flawed, the heroine is patient but hurt! Read, read, and read again! I do!