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The Saint (Highland Guard Series #5)

The Saint (Highland Guard Series #5)

4.3 74
by Monica McCarty

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Robert the Bruce consolidates lands and loyalty in a bold war for Scotland’s independence, as his elite team of warriors, the Highland Guard, fight for king, country . . . and love.
Magnus MacKay is the ultimate Highlander: tough, proud, able to master any terrain and to best his enemies. Called “the Saint” for his refusal


Robert the Bruce consolidates lands and loyalty in a bold war for Scotland’s independence, as his elite team of warriors, the Highland Guard, fight for king, country . . . and love.
Magnus MacKay is the ultimate Highlander: tough, proud, able to master any terrain and to best his enemies. Called “the Saint” for his refusal to discuss women, as well as for his cool and steady leadership, Magnus hides a painful truth. It isn’t virtue or piety that keeps him silent, but a wound of love and loss that cuts so deep he cannot bear to speak of it. But when the woman who refused him is betrothed to his friend and fellow Guardsman, Magnus is tested by love’s battle cry.
A wild and innocent beauty, Helen chose family duty over her desire for Magnus. Now the anger in his eyes mirrors the tormented regret in her heart. But as deadly subterfuge stalks the King and his Guard, Helen vows to right her youthful mistakes with a woman’s determined spirit. Still, Magnus harbors secrets and an iron will not to weaken to temptation—or heartache—again. But as danger looms, it’s the kiss not of a saint, but of a sinner, that can save them.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"McCarty is a powerhouse storyteller, and this multilayered, intense novel proves it." ---RT Book Reviews

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Highland Guard Series , #5
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.68(h) x 1.22(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Saint

A Highland Guard Novel
By Monica McCarty

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2012 Monica McCarty
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345528407




Dunstaffnage Castle,

December 1308

He could do this, damn it. Magnus could withstand almost any kind of physical torture and pain. A tough bastard, they said of him. He needed to remember it.

He kept his gaze fastened on the trencher before him, concentrating on his meal and not what was going on around him. But the ham and cheese intended to break his fast stuck in his throat. Only the ale went down easily. Still, it wasn’t strong enough to quiet the tumult eating him up inside. If it weren’t an hour after daybreak he would have asked for whisky.

Although given the celebratory mood around him, he doubted anyone would notice if he did. The festive atmosphere reverberated from the wooden rafters laden with fragrant boughs of pine to the stone floor strewn with fresh rushes. The massive Great Hall of Dunstaffnage Castle was lit up like Beltane, with hundreds of candles and a roaring fire blazing in the fireplace behind him. But the warmth of the room couldn’t penetrate the icy shell around him.

“If you keep looking like you want to murder someone, we’ll have to change your name.”

Magnus turned to the man seated at the trestle table beside him and shot him a warning glare. Lachlan MacRuairi had an uncanny ability to find a man’s weak spot. Like the viper his war name professed him to be, he struck with deadly precision. He alone of the other members of the Highland Guard had guessed Magnus’s secret, and he never wasted an opportunity to remind him of it.

“Aye,” MacRuairi said with a shake of his head. “You look decidedly unsaintly. Aren’t you supposed to be the calm and reasonable one?”

During the training for the Highland Guard, Erik MacSorley, the greatest seafarer in the Western Isles, had taken to calling him Saint in jest. Unlike the rest of them, Magnus didn’t spend his nights around the fire discussing the next woman he wanted to swiv. Nor did he lose his temper. When it had come to choosing war names to protect their identities, Saint had stuck.

“Sod off, MacRuairi.”

The impervious bastard just smiled. “We weren’t sure you were going to make it.”

Magnus had stayed away as long as he could, volunteering for any mission as long as it would keep him far from here. But he’d left Edward Bruce, the king’s brother and newly created Lord of Galloway, two days ago to join the other members of the Highland Guard at Dunstaffnage for the wedding of one of their own. The wedding of William Gordon, his best friend and partner, to Helen Sutherland.

My Helen.

Nay, not his. She’d never belonged to him. He’d only thought she had.

Three years ago he’d joined Bruce’s secret guard in the attempt to escape his memories. But fate had a cruel sense of irony. Not long after arriving, he’d learned that his new partner had been recently betrothed to Helen. The Sutherlands hadn’t lost any time in ensuring she didn’t change her mind about marrying him. Magnus had anticipated a quick betrothal; he just hadn’t anticipated it would hit so close.

For three years he’d known this day would come. He’d come to terms with it. But if it were anyone other than Gordon, Magnus would have found an excuse to stay away. Despite his appellation, self-­flagellation was not something he succumbed to willingly.

“Where’s Lady Isabella?” he asked by way of a response.

MacRuairi’s mouth curved. It was still strange to see such a black-­hearted bastard smile, but these past few weeks since MacRuairi had won Lady Isabella MacDuff’s freedom a second time—­as well as, it seemed, her heart—­the sight had become more frequent. If a bastard like MacRuairi could find love, he supposed there was hope for anyone.

Except for him.

“Helping the bride get ready,” MacRuairi replied. “She’ll be here soon enough.”

Bride. That pricked. Even knowing that MacRuairi was watching, he flinched.

The smile left MacRuairi’s face. “You should have told him. He deserves to know.”

Magnus shot an angry glare back at the man who made it hard as hell to like him—­though somehow Magnus did. “Back off, Viper,” he said in a low voice. Gordon didn’t need to know anything. Helen had made her choice well before their betrothal. “There is nothing to tell.”

He pushed back from the bench, not wanting to listen to any more of MacRuairi’s prodding, when he noticed a group of men entering the Hall.

Ah hell. He muttered a curse, seeing the impending disaster and knowing there wasn’t a damned thing he could do to stave it off.

His partner in the Highland Guard and closest friend, William Gordon, broke into a wide smile and headed straight for him. “You made it. I was beginning to wonder.”

Magnus didn’t have a chance to respond. The other man he’d noticed—­the one who’d provoked his reaction—­prevented it.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Kenneth Sutherland demanded angrily.

Magnus held very still, but every battle instinct flared. Sutherland’s hand had gone to the arming sword at his waist. The moment he moved, Magnus would be ready. MacRuairi, too, having sensed the threat, had tensed with readiness at his side.

“He’s my guest, as well as my friend,” Gordon said to his foster brother and soon-­to-­be brother-­in-­law—­what the hell Gordon saw in the bastard, Magnus couldn’t fathom. It wasn’t often that the good-­humored Gordon sounded angry, but there was a distinct edge of steel in his voice now.

“Your friend?” Kenneth said, aghast. “But he—­”

Realizing he was about to say something about Helen, Magnus got to his feet and slammed his flagon on the table. “Leave it. What is between us has no bearing on today.” He eyed his old enemy intently, and then forced himself to relax. “The feud is in the past. Just like imprudent alliances,” he added, unable to resist prodding him.

The Sutherlands had aligned with the Earl of Ross and England against Robert Bruce. But after Bruce’s victory over the MacDougalls at the Pass of Brander in August, the Earl of Ross had been forced to submit. The Sutherlands had reluctantly followed suit a month ago. Magnus knew Sutherland’s pride must have still been smarting.

From what Gordon told him, Sutherland had acquitted himself well in battle and was considered a formidable warrior—­equal to if not surpassing Donald Munro and his elder brother, William, who’d become earl on his father’s death two years ago. But to Magnus’s mind, Sutherland had one fatal flaw: his temper. And if the angry flush on Sutherland’s face was any indication, it hadn’t lost any of its volatility.

“Bastard,” Sutherland growled, taking a step forward. But Gordon held him back.

The air, which only moments before had been light with celebration, was now charged with strife. Swords had been drawn, if not in fact then in spirit. In response to the threat, two sides had formed. Sutherland’s men had gathered behind him and the members of the Highland Guard who’d been nearby had come to stand beside MacKay, with Gordon caught in the middle.

“Let him come, Gordon,” Magnus said idly. “Mayhap the English have taught him something.”

He and Sutherland were of a similar height and build, but Magnus had no doubt he could still best him in a sword fight—­or with any weapon, for that matter. It seemed that most of his youth had been spent with the purpose of besting Sutherlands. If it wasn’t Munro, it was one of Helen’s brothers.

Sutherland bit out a crude oath and tried to break free from Gordon’s hold. He might have succeeded if a new group hadn’t entered the Hall. A group not armed in leather and steel but in silk and satin.

Focused on the threat before him, Magnus hadn’t seen the women approach until one woman stepped forward. “Kenneth, what’s wrong? What’s happening here?”

Magnus froze at the sound of her voice. The muscle slid from his limbs. For a moment he felt boneless, empty but for the fire burning in his chest. The fire that it seemed would never die.

Helen stood before him. Every bit as breathtaking as he remembered—­yet different. There was nothing unconventional about her beauty now. The freckles that had once been smattered across her nose had vanished in the creamy perfection of ivory skin. The rich auburn hair that had tumbled about her shoulders in wild disarray—­when it hadn’t been chopped indiscriminately—­had been tamed into a maidenly coronet of braids. The tiny, pixie features were no longer quirked with laughter and mischief but were soft in repose. Only her eyes—­a clear crystal blue—­and lips—­the reddest he’d ever seen—­were the same.

But it wasn’t her beauty that had drawn him to her, it was the irrepressible good humor and untamed spirit that made her different from any other woman he’d ever known. A lively sprite who was as hard to catch as quicksilver.

He saw no evidence of that girl in the woman standing before him now, but it didn’t change the fierceness of his response. His chest felt as if it had been put in a vise of longing.

He’d thought he was prepared, damn it. Thought he could do this. But nothing could have prepared him for the shock of seeing her after three long years. Three years of war and destruction. Three years when he didn’t know whether he’d live or die. Three years of telling himself he was over her.

Three years of delusion.

Realizing that Gordon was looking at him with a frown, he quickly got himself under control, schooling his features in a blank mask. But calm deserted him.

It was then that she noticed him. He heard her gasp a dozen feet away. Her eyes widened and her face lost every bit of color. Her expression reminded him of the men he’d seen in battle after they’d taken an arrow to the gut: startled, shocked, and pained.

Instinctively, he made a move toward her, but MacRuairi held him back. Gordon was already at her side.

Gordon his friend.

Gordon her betrothed.

Gordon the man who would be her husband in a few short hours.

His stomach knifed.

“It is nothing, my lady,” Gordon said, taking her arm. “A minor misunderstanding. I believe you’ve met my friend Magnus MacKay?”

His words had shocked Helen out of her trance. “Aye, my lord.” Because she couldn’t avoid it, she turned to him. But he hadn’t missed the slight stiffening of her shoulders, as if bracing herself. For one long heartbeat their eyes met. The lance of pain through his chest stole his breath. She nodded her head in acknowledgment. “My lord.”

“My lady.” He bowed politely. Formally. Marking the distance that must now be between them. This wasn’t the Helen of his youth, but a woman who belonged to another.

Lady Isabella saved the moment from further awk- wardness. She was in the group of women who’d entered the Hall with Helen and rushed forward to greet him. “Magnus, you’re back!” Grabbing hold of his elbow, she turned him back to the table. “You must tell me all that is happening in the south.” She pursed her mouth in Lachlan’s direction and gave an indignant toss of her chin. “He tells me nothing.”

MacRuairi lifted a wry brow. “That’s because I don’t want you grabbing a sword to join them.”

She reached over to give the infamous mercenary a gentle pat on the arm as if soothing a naughty child. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t have a sword.” She winked up at Magnus and whispered. “I have a bow.”

“I heard that,” MacRuairi snapped.

Magnus smiled, grateful for the distraction. But it was only temporary. He was acutely aware of the two people walking arm-­in-­arm down the long aisle to the dais.


Excerpted from The Saint by Monica McCarty Copyright © 2012 by Monica McCarty. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
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.

Meet the Author

Monica McCarty is the bestselling author of The Viper, The Ranger, The Hawk, and The Chief, the first four books in the Highland Guard series, the Highlander trilogy (Highlander Untamed, Highlander Unmasked, and Highlander Unchained), and the Campbell trilogy (Highland Warrior, Highland Outlaw, and Highland Scoundrel). Her interest in the Scottish clan system began in the most unlikely of places: a comparative legal history course at Stanford Law School. After a short but enjoyable stint as an attorney, she realized that her career as a lawyer set against her husband’s transitory life as a professional baseball player was not exactly a match made in heaven. So she traded in her legal briefs for Scottish historical romances with sexy alpha heroes. Monica McCarty lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and their two children.

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The Saint: A Highland Guard Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Monica McCarty does not disappoint. Every book gets better and better, and The Saint is no exception. I loved the two main characters. Their relationship is wonderfully written. Helen is the best heroine yet. I loved her attitude and determination. She is a girl who knows what she wants and goes for it. Magnus is caring, strong and just absolutely swoon-worthy. The new twists that Monica McCarty added into the story was also a pleasant surprise. I am very much looking forward to her next book, The Recruit, coming out in October.
Ozzy12 More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Great book, great story. I was very entertained.
Doodlebug4444 More than 1 year ago
as posted at The READING CAFE 10 Aug ARC of THE HUNTER provided by NetGalley for an honest review COMBINED REVIEW with The Recruit and The Hunter 5 out of 5 for this reader folks! So before I get into this combined review I need to give you a brief synopsis of the previous books.  This review consists of books 5, 6 and 7 but to appreciate these books, I do think that the reader should indulge in 1 through 4 first.  That being said, Monica McCarty does give brief explanation in each book when other characters from previous books are included.   Our setting is early 1300's, medieval Scotland/England just after William Wallace was executed.  Robert the Bruce is trying to win control of the Scottish crown and has decided to form an elite warrior army.  These warriors are the best of the best and each warrior possesses their own particular skill that is crucial to the team.  These warriors are not all friends, and truth be told, they come from warring clans.  However, to ensure that "The Bruce" wins this war, they put their differences aside.  This elite army is top secret, and they are known as phantoms who attack in the curling mist and disappear just as quick.  When they strike, it is quick, precise and DEADLY! Here they are (the warriors that have their own book so far, with more to follow)! THE CHIEF - Tor MacLoed, team leader and expert swordsman THE HAWK - Eric MacSorley, seafarer and swimmer THE RANGER - Arthur Campbell, scouting and reconnaissance THE VIPER - Lachlan MacRuairi, stealth, infiltration and extraction THE SAINT - Magnus MacKay, survivalist and weapon forging THE RECRUIT - Kenneth "Ice" Sutherland, explosives and versatility THE HUNTER - Ewen Lamont, tracker and hunter of men Of course it goes without saying ... behind every great warrior is a great woman!  WINK!  LOL THE SAINT - Book 5 of The Highland Guard Series DESCRIPTON Magnus MacKay is the ultimate Highlander: tough, proud, able to master any terrain and to best his enemies. Called “the Saint” for his refusal to discuss women, as well as for his cool and steady leadership, Magnus hides a painful truth. It isn’t virtue or piety that keeps him silent, but a wound of love and loss that cuts so deep he cannot bear to speak of it. But when the woman who refused him is betrothed to his friend and fellow Guardsman, Magnus is tested by love’s battle cry.   A wild and innocent beauty, Helen chose family duty over her desire for Magnus. Now the anger in his eyes mirrors the tormented regret in her heart. But as deadly subterfuge stalks the King and his Guard, Helen vows to right her youthful mistakes with a woman’s determined spirit. Still, Magnus harbors secrets and an iron will not to weaken to temptation—or heartache—again. But as danger looms, it’s the kiss not of a saint, but of a sinner, that can save them. REVIEW Oh Magnus, bless your saintly heart my dear ... you never had a chance with a woman like Helen!  LOL Magnus Mackay, the quiet saintly warrior of the bunch, holds a secret injury close.  His broken heart.  Years ago before this war, he met Helen Sutherland (the MacKay's and Sutherland's are warring clans) at the Highland Games.  There is an instant connection that leaves a serious imprint.  Through many years they secretly meet and fall in love, never consummating their love and leaving it honourable.  Magnus proposes to Helen in front of her brother (whom he hates) and Helen is stuck making a quick decision that will alter their entire lives.  She says NO!  Her father is ailing and she cannot leave his side nor go against her families wishes.  They are both heartbroken! Years pass and Magnus is attending his fellow warrior and best friend William's wedding.  He is completely gobsmacked when he learns it's to his beloved Helen (Helen is just as gobsmacked to learn her betrothed is BFF's with her one true love).  However, in true honourable warrior fashion, Magnus tells Helen that he doesn't love her and her future belongs with William.  She marries William.   William ends up dying in battle and has Magnus promise to watch over Helen (no one knows that the marriage was never consummated).  Magnus reluctantly agrees.  Off we go in the cat and mouse chase that these two engage in.  However, what I loved about it was that the roles were reversed.  Helen does everything she can to chase Magnus and make up for the wrong decision she made years ago.  She is a strong girl who knows what she wants and uses her sensuality, healing capabilities to make her a commodity of the elite team, and favour of the king to seduce Magnus. Secrets are revealed, lust if fed and a love stronger than both of them takes root all in the midst of a deadly war. THE RECRUIT - Book 6 of The Highland Guard Series DESCRIPTION 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? REVIEW Next to THE HAWK Eric, The RECRUIT was my next fave.  There was something about Kenneth Sutherland that made me crave more.  We first met Kenneth Sutherland in The Saint, as he is Helen's brother.  Throughout The Saint, Kenneth begins to put the pieces together and discovers that this elite army is exactly his calling.  He begs The King to give him a chance, but it's his brother in law (Magnus MacKay) who stands in his way.  Magnus lays it on the line and tells Kenneth if he wins the Highland Games he'll petition the King on Kenneth's behalf to consider allowing Kenneth to become a member of the team.  Magnus has no intention of letting Kenneth win anything (and plays dirty in the process).  Magnus doesn't end up getting what he wants and Kenneth ends up going through recruit training (seriously harsh) and proves that he can be a contributing member. While at the highland games, Kenneth is spied upon by Mary of Mar while he is having a "role in the hay" with another lady.  There eyes meet and something explosive happens between them.  When Kenneth tracks her down she agrees to one night of passion.  Well one night isn't enough and Kenneth is beside himself when he awakens to discover Mary is gone. Mary of Mar was previously married to a Lord who neglected his family (Mary has a son with this Lord who is removed from her home to squire for an Englishman), while placing them in serious danger so he could participate in the war.  Once he was killed, she vows never to marry again and live her life unnoticed.  Well once Kenneth finds her, that all goes to the wayside. The King has announced she is betrothed to Kenneth an it just so happens their brief night of passion has resulted in pregnancy.  Slowly, Kenneth begins to peel back the barrier of Mary's heart and makes her believe that marriage is possible.  His secret of being an elite member of this phantom guard however just may change all that! THE HUNTER - Book 7 of the Highland Guard Series DESCRIPTION Prized for his unbeatable tracking skills, Ewen “Hunter” Lamont accepts a dangerous assignment: locate a missing undercover courier. But this is no ordinary target. Ewen has met his prey before as “Sister Genna,” a fiery, forbidden woman forever etched in his memory after one stolen, sinful kiss. Now that he knows her real identity, he’s more determined than ever to keep her safe. But without the protection of the veil between them, fighting the allure of the beautiful lass may be the toughest battle this extraordinary warrior has ever faced. After her ill-fated attempt three years ago to rescue her twin sister, Janet of Mar has found salvation acting as a royal messenger—until she surrenders to a darkly handsome warrior whose rough, sensual kisses stir feelings the woman in her can’t deny. But when betrayal leads to danger, and a crucial communiqué is put in jeopardy, Janet has no choice but to put her faith in the hunter who can find anything—perhaps even her heart. REVIEW Ewen Lamont comes from a scandalous marriage that forever has foreshadowed his own life.  He is the son of "WILD" Lamont.  A man who lived to beat of his own drum, was a drunk and never backed away from a challenge.  After his sudden death, Ewen assumed responsibility of a small strip of land and a clan that has been neglected.  In order to provide for his people, Ewen becomes a member of the guard.  He is obedient, tight lipped and lives to correct his father's errors. Ewen is asked to track down  "Sister Genna" who is actually Janet of Mar (Mary's sister) whom is presumed dead after trying to rescue her sister (this is all in the book The Recruit).  She has been a courier for the King, passing along top secret intelligence and using the cross as her cover.  After a passionate embrace, Ewen kicks himself for compromising a nun.  Once he finds out that she is not a nun however, but the twin sister of Mary, he is FURIOUS.  Again he is called upon by the King to bring her to him so he can tell her that she is betrothed to another.  While Ewen knows this information, he neglects to tell Janet as he knows she'll fight going with him. Through their journey, Janet tries to seduce her way into Ewen's heart.  Ewen does all he can to fight her off knowing that is he indulges in his lust he has more to lose than Janet.  He is fearful the King will strip him of his land and force his clan into perish. Throughout the highlands, these two get to know each other and the attraction only grows.  Ewen also makes his position on Janet's part in the war known and she will not give up the only thing in her life that makes up for past mistakes.  A war of wills follows! So Monica McCarty is by far one of the best highland romance writers I have ever read!  She can write a beautiful love story but that isn't what stuck me in this series.  She is basing her love stories off real people and real events.  At the end of each story, she includes an authors note.  This note consists of her historical research, who is fiction, who isn't, what battles occurred during that books time, how the English and Scottish worked apart and together.  IT WAS FASCINATING to read how she brings it all together.  Her books are full of battle and history and so much ACTION.  While the fluff is amazing, and the sexual tension between hero and heroine is intense, I was captivated by the war and who stood where and why! If you love the highlanders, do yourself a favour and snag this series.  I have rated every book thus far a 5 out of 5.  I have never been disappointed! HAPPY READING! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was actually looking forward to Saint after reading the previous books, I liked the fact that he was stapled as the gentleman guard but unfortunately the book fell flat. I actually had to push myself to finish reading and found the heroine, Helen to be annoying, indecisive, and boring. My least favorite among the highland guard series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this book. I have loved every other one of the authors books but could not even finish this one. Read any other book by Monica McCarty but do not read this one.
PumpkinSK More than 1 year ago
Loved Magnus and Helen!! Monica McCarty never disappoints!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After avidly reading her books and loving this series especially, I was disappointed in this book. Almost put it down and never picked up again... twice. But I stuck through. What kept turning me away from the book was the constant emotional struggle of the main characters; utterly exhausting. I was exhausted just reading it. Her other books are so good, I hope Kenneth can bring back the spice she has so readily had in the others with her new book in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed with this book. If compared with others books from this author it was too slowly. The hero was too pride to make something about his feelings. Even a proper kiss didn't happen until late in the book. I enjoyed it but not too much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They are so well written and each stands on its own. Character depth is amazing. Characters are so real they could walk off the page. Best author I have read in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best. One. Yet. I loved this book! It had so many twists and turns to the plot, I didn't know how it would end. Just when you thought Monica's Highland Guard Series was going to follow a pattern, she literally blows everything up! I am looking forward to her next book. October can't come fast enough.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Love love the HIGHLAND GUARD men
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BecsG More than 1 year ago
Well, it's been a LONG time since I picked up a book from Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series. My last review for the Viper was October 2011 - three and a half years ago. This is a fabulous series and Monica is possibly the queen of the Highlander Romance genre so I'm racking my brains as to why I left it this long to catch up. I think I just fell out with the whole historical romance thing after a couple of lacklustre heroines (pet peeve in a novel) and moved on but the TV adaptation of Outlander has rekindled that love that once burned so bright and I'm back with a vengeance and now Monica has four novels and a novella for me to totally binge on. Happy Days! Now, that I'm back in the fold as it were, I was eager to get back into this series and when I read the blurb, I was struck by comparisons to Jane Austen's Persuasion. A young couple very much in love, a match frowned on my her family, she turns him down and years pass before they meet again and when they do that passion is still there but unacknowledged by the man himself. Persuasion is my FAVOURITE Jane Austen so I hesitated no longer and dived straight in. Like Austen's Captain Wentworth, I was half agony, half hope as Monica ramps up the angst factor in this one.  Our heroine, Helen, is still very much in love with Magnus who has now grown into a huge and fearsome warrior and they meet again on her wedding day to his best friend. AWKWARD! But, when her new husband is killed just days after their nuptials, Helen eventually sets about attempting to convince Magnus that her love has held fast and that she made a mistake in refusing him all those years ago and in agreeing to marry William. Magnus is having none of it - a connection to him would put her in danger and he had promised her dying husband to watch over her, after all. I loved this book - there's just so much going on, so much suspense. The story zips along at an incredible pace and I was enthralled from beginning to end. Helen's attempts to get Magnus to succumb to her charms at once made me laugh and squirm. The big warrior is very stoic and resolutely refuses to notice her and even flirts with a serving wench at one point as we're subjected to a highly angsty love story. There's so many secrets between these two, explanations as yet untold and so many obstacles in their way that sometimes a match between them seemed impossible and yet Helen was SO determined and I had to admire her tenacity as she went after the man she loved and tried to prove that true love really does conquer all. Magnus - be still my beating heart. What a fearsome warrior this man is and how hard did I fall for him. I loved his steadfastness, his determination to do what is right and to honour his King and his oath despite that this could quite possibly cost him his only chance at true happiness. He's fiercely loyal, incredibly strong - a true Highland hunk and yet another fantastic addition to the Highland Guard Hall of Fame.  Alongside the fabulous romance, is a story rich with skulduggery, deception and treachery as Helens' abilities to heal see her taken along with the King on his progress accompanied by Magnus. I did work out who the traitor was early on but this just increased my expectation of a thrilling finale which I definitely got.  My only problem with this book is the secondary romance - I am really NOT a huge fan of this in romance novels. I did love their story but I would much rather that this was just hinted at and told in a novella at a later date. Theirs was a beautiful story which didn't get a huge amount of page time and served mostly to distract me from the main event of Helen and Magnus and I would have preferred to get deeper into this at a later date and enjoy their story rather than rushing over their pages to get back to the main storyline. I would have loved to have read a novella dedicated to these two.  For fans of the Highland Guards we've fallen for in previous novels, we get to see them all again with their women and catch up with what is going on in their relationships and I hope to see plenty of Magnus and Helen in the subsequent novels in this series. I have to confess to a rabid crush on Gregor 'Arrow' MacGregor and I'm dying to read his book. He's like the pin up of the Highland Guard and if Scottish maidens had posters on their chamber walls, it would be of this man. Supposedly, he has the most gorgeous face in all of Scotland and not to mention that the guy is well hench and an awesome warrior. I am all anticipation!! Bring. It. On. 4.5 saints and angels stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Helen was taking care of the king after his head injury.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who could not see this coming. To kill a Highland guard for a women...come on. Did not like this book. It seems that the more books in this series I read the more I dislike. Not sure I will continue on. Very disappointed...in books 4 & 5. The first three were great. Just calling as I see it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I couldn't stop reading the first four in the series, The Saint is a struggle to finish. The character developement is not as strong, neither one is very likeable, and the historical content doesn't seem as well planned. This almost feels like a book that was quickly written to fill a contractual obligation rather than a book to keep readers coming back for more. I can only hope that the next one is better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing protagonists
LUVSCOTS More than 1 year ago
I liked this one. I liked Helen and Magnus. This was a really good story. On to the next- The Recruit!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MedievalLady More than 1 year ago
4 1/2 stars. Scotland 1308 This story pulled at my heart. Magnus and Helen have been in love with each other for years. Her brothers do not want them together, because they are from feuding families. Years pass, Magnus has became part of Bruce's secret Guard and Helen is betrothed to Gordon, best friend to Magnus. I do not want to say more for giving away spoilers but I recommend this book in the highest way! A very emotional journey and now a book that will always live on in my heart.