Highland Guard

Highland Guard

by Hannah Howell

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Overview

Highland Guard by Hannah Howell

New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell brings back the daring Murray family in a brand-new tale of dangerous love rekindled. . .

Lady Annys MacQueen has no other choice. The deception that enabled her to keep her lands safe is on the verge of being revealed by a cruel kinsman. To shield her young son from the sword and her people from devastation, she must turn to the one man she could never forget...

He lives for duty and honor. So the only way Sir Harcourt Murray could repay the laird who saved his life was to agree to father a child with Sir MacQueen's wife...Lady Annys.

Now the passion he still feels for the lovely strong-willed widow is as all-consuming and perilous as securing her lands. But to convince her that his love is forever real means confronting her most wrenching fears--and putting everything they treasure most at stake...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420135022
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 02/24/2015
Series: Murrays Series , #20
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 10,793
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Hannah Howell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty Zebra historical romances. Howell, twice awarded the Golden Leaf Award, has been a Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist, received RT Book Reviews’ Career Achievement Award for Historical Storyteller of the Year. She lives in West Newbury, Massachusetts, with her family. Visit her website at hannahhowell.com.

Read an Excerpt

Highland Guard


By HANNAH HOWELL

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2015 Hannah Howell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4201-3502-2


CHAPTER 1

Waiting was pure torture, Lady Annys MacQueen decided. She looked down at the small shirt she was mending, sighed, and began to pull out the appallingly crooked stitching. It was hard to believe Sir Harcourt would ignore her cry for help yet it had been a very long ten days since she had sent him the message. Ten days and not even the young man she had sent out with the message had returned. Annys prayed she had not sent young Ian to his death. She doubted Sir Harcourt would hurt Ian but the journey itself would not have been without its dangers.

"M'lady, mayhaps ye should have a wee rest," said Joan as she sat down beside Annys on the padded bench.

Smiling at her maid, Annys shook her head. "'Tis much too early, Joan. Everyone would wonder if I was ill and that would only add to the unease they all suffer from even now. I must try to be strong, and most certainly must at least always appear to be."

Annys wondered why her words made Joan frown. The woman was only ten years older than her but often acted in a very motherly way. Round of body and face, Joan did not even look her age yet she could lecture one like a grandmother. That frown often warned of a lecture being carefully thought out. Annys was not in a humor to endure one but also knew she loved Joan too much to hurt the woman's feelings by revealing that displeasure with some sharp words. They had been friends and companions, as well as lady and maid, since the day Annys had first come to Glencullaich to meet her betrothed.

"Ye are a lass," Joan began.

"I have come to realize that. I was slow to see it, but the breasts refused to be ignored." Annys was not surprised to receive a scowl from Joan that clearly said her maid was not amused.

"No one expects constant strength from a wee lass who has but recently buried her husband," Joan continued. "Ye are wearing yourself to the bone trying to be the laird and the lady of this keep. Ye dinnae need to be both. All here willingly heed the lady, have always done so, so trying to don Sir David's boots is unnecessary."

"And if I dinnae do it, who will?"

"Nicolas."

Annys thought on that for a moment. The man had arrived almost five years ago. He had claimed that he had spent enough time selling his sword for a living and now wished to settle in one place. David had welcomed the man with open arms, readily training him to lead the other, less well-trained men at Glencullaich. Fortunately, no one had complained or taken offense at how the stranger had so quickly moved into place as David's right-hand man. In truth, they had all welcomed his skills. She even had to admit that he had been immensely helpful since David's death.

"Mayhaps he can," she conceded. "He certainly has been most helpful thus far. Yet, I have always wondered why he ne'er just went home to Wales to settle."

"A long journey for a mon who says there is no one left there for him."

"True enough." Annys shrugged and tossed the little shirt she had yet to finish back into her mending basket. "'Tis nay that I dinnae trust him, for I do. I but puzzle o'er it now and then. I will try to put more of the work into his hands, but nay so much that it hinders his ability to keep the men weel trained. Their training cannae be allowed to lag."

"Nay, ye are right. It cannae." Joan nodded. "It is badly needed, sad to say. E'en weel trained as they are now, 'tis a constant battle to keep that bastard from trying to destroy us. If he sniffed out a weakness he would be on us like carrion birds on a fishermon's catch. Have ye heard anything from that Sir Murray yet?"

"Nay. I begin to fear that I have accomplished naught but to send poor young Ian to his death."

"Och, nay, m'lady, dinnae allow that fear to prey on your mind. Ian kenned the risks and he is a clever lad, one who kens weel how to slip about quietly and hide weel when needed. There are many reasons one can see for why he hasnae returned yet. Many. And a sad fate is but one of them."

"True."

And it was true, Annys thought. It was simply a truth she had a difficult time clinging to. Ian had come to the keep as a young boy, orphaned when the rest of his family had died in a fire, frightened, and painfully shy. It had taken a while, but by the time she had come to live permanently at Glencullaich as its lady, he had blossomed. Still sweet, still quick to blush, but settled and happy. He had fallen into the role of Glencullaich's messenger as if born to it, but he had never been sent on such a long journey before.

"M'lady!"

Annys started as the shout from the door yanked her out of her thoughts and she stared at the tall, too-thin young man who had burst into the solar. "What is it, Gavin? Please dinnae tell me there is more trouble to deal with. It has been so blissfully quiet for days."

"I dinnae think 'tis trouble, m'lady, for Nicolas isnae bothered." Gavin scratched at his cheek and frowned. "But there are six big, armed men at the gate. Nicolas was going to open the gates for them and said I was to come and tell ye that."

"I will be right out then. Thank ye, Gavin." The moment Gavin left, she looked at Joan. "How are six big, armed men nay trouble?"

"If they come in answer to your message?" Joan hastily tidied Annys's thick braid. "There, done. Now ye look presentable. Let us go out and greet our guests."

"Guests dinnae come armed," Annys said as she started out of the room, Joan right at her side.

"They do if they come in reply to a lady's note saying 'help me, help me'."

"I didnae say 'help me, help me'."

"Near enough. No gain in talking on it until we actually see who is here."

"Fine but I did nay say 'help me, help me'."

Annys ignored Joan's soft grunt even though she knew it meant the woman was not going to change her mind. She stepped out through the heavy oak doors and started down the stone steps to the bailey only to stop short before she reached the bottom. The man dismounting from a huge black gelding was painfully familiar.

Tall, strong, and handsome with his thick long black hair and eyes like a wolf, he had been a hard man to forget. She had certainly done her utmost to cast him from her mind. Each time he had slipped into her thoughts she had slapped his memory away. Writing him that message had brought his memory rushing to the fore again, however. Seeing him in the flesh looking as handsome as he had five years ago told her that she had never succeeded in forgetting him. Annys began to regret asking for his aid no matter how badly they needed any help they could get at the moment.

She fought to remind herself of how he had ridden away from Glencullaich all those years ago without even a quick but private farewell to her. It had hurt. Despite knowing it had been wrong to want that private moment to say their good-byes, despite the guilt that wanting had stirred in her then, and now, she had been devastated by his cold leave-taking.

Then, abruptly, his gaze locked with hers and every memory she had fought to banish from her mind came rushing back so clearly and strongly that she had to fight to stand straight and steady. Annys cursed silently. It was still there. The fascination, the wanting, was all reborn beneath the steady look from those rich amber eyes. This could become the biggest mistake she had ever made in her life.


Harcourt looked at Annys and his heart actually skipped a beat. He would have laughed if he was not so filled with conflicting emotions. Such happenings were the stuff of bad poetry, the sort of thing he had always made jest of. Yet, there he stood, rooted to the spot, frantically thinking of what to say and how to hide the tangled mass of emotion that was nearly choking him. He nodded a greeting to her and watched her beautiful moss-green eyes narrow in a look that did not bode well for an amiable talk later. Talking was not what he was thinking about, however. He was recalling how soft that long blood-red hair of hers was, how warm her pale skin felt beneath his hands, and how sweet those full lips tasted. That was a memory he needed to smother and fast.

"Are matters as bad as young Ian indicated?" he asked Nicolas, and inwardly winced when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Annys cross her arms under her breasts.

"Aye," Nicolas replied. "We can have that talk with her ladyship in attendance as soon as we get all of you sorted."

Harcourt nodded and turned his attention to seeing to the matter. Once the horses were taken care of, their supplies unloaded and carted away, he knew the time had come to actually face Annys. He took a deep breath and started toward her where she still stood on the steps only to come to a halt when a small child rushed by him and ran up to pull at her skirts.

"Maman! Ye got us more soldiers."

"I did, Benet. I thought it might help stop all the trouble we have been having."

The moment the child turned to look at him, Harcourt clenched his fists at his side. The boy's eyes were a match for his own. Bright amber eyes watched him closely and Harcourt fought against the urge to shout out his claim to this child. He had given up all rights. It had been the debt owed for his life. He could feel the eyes of his companions fixed upon him though and knew he would be facing a lot of questions.

It took every ounce of strength he had to start walking again. He stepped up until he was standing just below Annys and the boy. It was easy to read the fear in her eyes. Young Benet's eye color was not an exact match with his and could be attributed to the tiny gold specks in her eyes or just a different shade of the brown David's eyes had been. The boy's hair was black but so had David's been. As long as he did not say or do something to give the secret away, all would be fine. Yet, Harcourt knew it was going to be a long hard battle not to reach out and claim his son.

"M'lady," he said and took her hand in his to brush a kiss over her knuckles.

That tiny soft hand trembled slightly in his grasp and his body reacted to the sign that she was not as indifferent to his presence as she appeared to be. Harcourt knew it would be unwise to try to begin an affair with her but he was not sure he was strong enough to resist if she gave him even the smallest hint that she would welcome his attention.

"Sir Harcourt," she said and nodded as she almost yanked her hand out of his grasp. "Where is Ian?"

"He was injured in his travels. Nay badly, but I thought it best if he remained at Gormfeurach for a while. He is being given the best of care."

"Thank you for that. I was most concerned when he did not return." She turned slightly and took Benet by the hand. "Shall we go to the hall where you can quench your thirst and have some food while we talk?"

Annys fought to keep from racing into the keep, putting as much distance between her and Sir Harcourt as she could. The touch of his lips on her hand had nearly undone her hard-won composure. It had been five years since she had felt his touch yet the moment his flesh met hers, even in the innocence of a proper greeting, her mind had gone back to those nights by the burn.

Guilt left a sour taste in her mouth. David was barely cold in his grave and she was allowing herself to weaken at the touch of another man's hand. What had happened between her and Harcourt had been wrong, even if it had been condoned by David. She nearly laughed. Condoned? It had been meticulously arranged. David had been the sweetest, kindest man she had ever known but he had also been a man who would not hesitate to do whatever was needed to get what he wanted. He had wanted a son.

She glanced down at Benet who kept looking back at the men following them into the keep. Until she had seen Harcourt again, she had not allowed herself to even think on how much Benet looked like the man. All she could do was pray no one else noticed, especially since there had been the faintest similarities in coloring between David and Harcourt. She would also have to be very watchful for even the smallest possibility that she or Harcourt were giving the secret away in how they treated the boy.

"M'lady," Joan whispered in her ear as they entered the hall and pulled away from the men who went to wash their hands, "it is not as clear to see as ye think it is."

"I pray ye are right, Joan."

"I am. I only see it because of what I ken and I have ne'er heard a whisper that would tell me anyone else here kens the truth or that those who may would e'er say a word. So, ye just be careful in what ye say and do and all will be weel."

Annys wished she had the confidence in that that Joan had. The looks on the faces of the men who had come with Harcourt, looks the men were doing a pitiful job of hiding, told her that they noticed something already. She prayed Harcourt would have a stern word with them all.

"Allow me to introduce my companions, m'lady," Harcourt said once they were all seated. "This is Sir Callum MacMillan, Sir Tamhas Cameron, Sir Nathan MacFingal, Sir Ned MacFingal, and Sir Gybbon Murray."

Annys nodded a greeting to each man as he was introduced. Two redheads, a brunet, and three raven-haired men. All handsome. All warriors. All tall and fit. It was not going to be easy to stop the maidens of the keep from seeking them out. They were, however, a treasure of skill and strength she could not turn away, no matter how much she worried over the chance that her secret might come out.

"I thank you all for coming," she said. "Please, eat, drink, and we can talk once ye take the edge off your thirst and hunger. "

The only conversation that ensued as the men ate concerned the journey they had taken. Gormfeurach was not as far away as Annys had thought, although far enough when one half of the partners in a huge secret were concerned. She ate very little, her stomach tied in knots, as she struggled to push aside all worry about what might or might not be exposed by Sir Harcourt's presence. The people of Glencullaich needed these men. They had to take precedence over all of her fears.

As she sipped her wine she glanced between Harcourt on her left and Nicolas on her right. Both were extraordinarily handsome men yet she experienced not one single twinge of womanly interest when she studied Nicolas. Hair the color of dark wood, gray eyes, and a strong body were all things that could please a woman but, although she did like the look of him, nothing else stirred inside her. Harcourt stirred everything inside of her and not all of it was good. The warmth was side by side with the chilling fear of secrets being uncovered. The need was side by side with the guilt for having given in to it even with the urging of her husband. The pleasure of seeing him again sat side by side with a lingering anger over the way he had left her. Somehow she had to clear her heart and mind of all the confusion.

Annys noticed that her son was chatting merrily with the man called Callum, a handsome man with his green eyes and copper-colored hair. Sir Callum showed no sign of being irritated by her son's chatter even though it kept interrupting his meal. The fact that Benet was so at ease was surprising, however, as he usually took a long time to warm up to someone, especially when that someone was a man so much bigger than he was. There was no doubt in her mind that Sir Callum was a skilled warrior yet it was clear he had a magical way with children.

Sir Gybbon Murray's relationship to Harcourt was clear to see even though his eyes were blue. That man kept looking between Harcourt and little Benet in a way that made her nervous. She also noticed that the looks he gave Harcourt not only demanded an explanation but held the gleam of deep disapproval. Since, from all she had heard, men had no real problem scattering their illegitimate offspring around the world with no thought and few penalties, it puzzled her.

Sir Tamhas Cameron sat between the two MacFingals, the three of them jesting and eating heartily. There was a strong family resemblance between the two MacFingals despite one having light brown hair and the other black. They certainly both had the same smiles, ones touched with a hint of recklessness and wickedness. Sir Tamhas appeared to be the most staid of the three men although his green eyes often shone with laughter. She envied his red hair, the color of a fox pelt. Those three she knew would be the ones to watch most carefully around the maidens of the keep.

Catching Joan's gaze where she sat at the far end of the table, Annys glanced toward the three and then slanted a glance toward the four young women lurking in the doorway to the kitchens. The way Joan's mouth thinned and she glared the girls into retreating back into the kitchens told Annys that she could leave that concern safely in Joan's hands. She just wished it would be as easy to leave the rest of her troubles in other hands.

Annys silently sent an apology up to David. He had told her to call for Harcourt if there was trouble and her husband had been an excellent judge of men. She would have to accept that and carry on. David's cousin Adam was mostly a nuisance at the moment. But the crimes he was committing in what she was certain was an attempt to make her look so weak that the people of Glencullaich would call on him to take the laird's seat were rapidly getting more dangerous. It was past time to do more than clean up after the many messes Adam had left behind.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Highland Guard by HANNAH HOWELL. Copyright © 2015 Hannah Howell. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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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Highland Guard 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Reading Hannah's books gave me my love for Scottish stories. This was a busy, worrying read. I thought one way. The story went the other. That just made me like this book better. Hannah always presents us with strong people-good and evil. She sure gave us enough spoilers in this story line. Annys is alone as her husband David, the Laird, has died. Her Clan try to help her. Then her cousin, Sir Adam, threatens to take over her Castle and people. She calls on a friend of her husband for help. She feels better about not losing her home and son. Spoiler!  Harcourt Murray comes to aid with some of his friends. She is afraid as there is a surprise that is concerning the family. There are spies, bolt holes, her son Benet with his lamb riding cat and another major spoiler. You must get this book to decipher the spoilers at the end. Please choose this book!  I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.
KathyL2059 More than 1 year ago
First, a caveat to my review: Hannah Howell wrote the first romance I ever read (Highland Conqueror, the story of Sigimor and Jolene), and I just loved it, and have since read everything that Howell has published that I can get my hands on. I love how familiar characters pop up, or, lately, the children of familiar characters pop up in the later books. In Highland Guard, Harcourt (Brett’s brother from Highland Master) is called to help Annys, the widow of a man who once saved his life, from a relative who wants to take the land and castle away from her and her son. The full story is ably recapped in other reviews, so I will not repeat that here. This chapter of the Murray clan is wonderful. As always, the secondary characters are funny and loyal, and you can’t imagine the hero and heroine getting along without them. Benet is a typical little boy, not made out to be perfect or particularly bratty – just a regular little boy. The attraction between Harcourt and Annys is believable and, yes, we know they will be together in the end, but it is always fun to see how many trip wires Howell throws at them before they get to their happily ever after.
SarahBeth1209 More than 1 year ago
This is my first time reading a book by Hannah Howell, and I really fell in love! I mean, nothing like being introduced to a new series when it is on #20.... talk about late to the party. Anyway, this book had everything I love in a romance. It had an exciting plot, very loveable secondary characters, mystery, and wonderful chemistry between the two main characters. I lost myself in the story and just enjoyed the ride. Sir Harcourt Murray is the longtime friend of Sir David MacQueen, the Laird of Glencullaich. David was injured as a young man (he was a little too smitten with the ladies, and found a husband who didn't like to share) and as a result was not able to father a child, or even consummate his marriage with his wife, Lady Annys MacQueen. To ensure his legacy he asks his friend Sir Harcourt to sleep with his wife until she becomes pregnant and then David will claim the child as his, thus ensuring the fate of Glencullaich will stay out of the greedy hands of David's distant relatives. Sir Harcourt and Lady Annys relent, and in the process of making a baby, also fall in love (though neither will admit it). After the deed is done Sir Harcourt leaves since he cannot bear to watch someone else raise his child, a son (Benet) is born to Lady Annys, and David claims the child as his own. All is well for five years until Sir David dies, leaving Lady Annys and young Benet having to defend the keep from some of David's evil distant relatives. As a last resort Annys sends a SOS letter to Sir Harcourt asking for help. He arrives in Glencullaich, and finds that his love for Annys had not wavered in five years. Thus, their true story begins. If you are a fan of Historical romance I think you will like this book! The language is written how it would have sounded in those days, but that doesn't distract once you get into the story. Also, I DETEST love triangles and cheating, and this didn't trigger any of those buttons at all. I'm glad I read this, and will be checking out more of Hannah Howell's books when I'm in the mood for some great Highland love in the future. -This book was given to me, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.-
JensReadingObsession More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable historical fiction with an interesting plot, but it was a bit slow.  I would have liked to have known more about their relationship between Harcourt and Annys five years prior before continuing in the present. The brief glimpses were not enough for me to understand the bond formed between them. Harcourt is a true hero, saving the day and getting the girl at the end.  Benet was adorable and I wish there were more scenes between him and Harcourt. Benet's pets were adorable and added a bit of humor to the story.  This is the first book I've read by Ms. Howell, and I look forward to reading the previous books in the series - I have a feeling there are plenty of swoon-worthy heroes to pick from. ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good, highly recommend!!!!! B&N please limit the lines so reviewers do not spoil the book for others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written & i will be reading more from H H
ajenkins979 More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Ms Howell did not disappoint with this book
SusanFrank More than 1 year ago
Good entry into the Murray clan books. Harcourt and Annys had gotten to know each other five years earlier. Harcourt had been injured and left for dead then found by Sir David MacQueen who saved his life. In return, David asked Harcourt to father a child with his wife, as he needed an heir to his lands. It wasn't a difficult task, but Harcourt regretted the need to walk away when it was over. Five years later, Annys is in trouble. David has died and his cousin is determined to take the land. The only thing she can do is write to Harcourt and ask for his help. She worries that his arrival could expose the truth and put everything in danger. I liked Annys. She had loved her husband enough to do as he asked, though there were plenty of guilty feelings that went with it. She does her best to protect her son and the land, but is also smart enough to know when she needs help. Harcourt's arrival throws her emotions into turmoil, as she has never forgotten the way he made her feel. Harcourt is an honorable man and did what he had to years ago. However, he has regretted walking away and has never forgotten Annys or her child. When he receives her plea for help, he can't say no. Seeing her again has reawakened his desire for her, and now that she's free, he wants her for his own. I loved seeing the relationship grow between Harcourt and Annys. The feelings were already there, they just had to accept them. Annys's fear of the truth being revealed has her trying to keep Harcourt at a distance to protect them both. But they have to work together on the protection of the keep, and it isn't long before desire overtakes them. Annys's feelings for Harcourt grow, but she knows he will have to leave again and dreads the heartbreak that will follow. Harcourt wants Annys as a permanent part of his life, but he is committed to his other lands, and knows that Annys and her son Benet have to stay on theirs. His mind is constantly working to find a solution. That solution comes in an unexpected way and I loved seeing how it ended. It was sweet to see them finally share their feelings with each other. The problem with Sir David's cousin attempting to take the land keeps the action going. Sir Adam is convinced that the land should be his and will do anything to get it. I enjoyed seeing the way that Harcourt and company foiled the early attempts. Things get really intense with the final confrontation. There is an interesting twist to the end of the battle, one that I suspected would happen but was wondering when and how. That twist has a huge impact on Annys and Harcourt's futures. I really enjoyed the secondary characters. Harcourt's companions were all wonderful. Each one was unique and had his own special role. I'd like to see more of them, especially Callum, who I remember from an earlier book. I also loved Annys's friend/housekeeper Joan. She had a great way of helping Annys see what was most important. The sweetest of all was Annys's son Benet. I loved seeing things from his point of view and the things he got up to. His bits with the lamb Roberta, who is "not for the pot" were really fun to see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Hannah's books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Hannah Howell's books and the story of Harcourt & Annys is no different. Her characters have such a wide range of personalities that each story stays fresh. I'd love for her to expand more on the MacFingals & Murrays. Her villains are always despicable & her heros equally likeable. If you enjoy this era, you cannot go wrong with Hannah Howell! Keep 'em coming!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where the cat that Annys rescued came into her bedchamber when it was supposed to be in the stables.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Icecrystal45 More than 1 year ago
Loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PureJonel More than 1 year ago
What a brilliantly lifelike story!  Howell deftly recreates medieval Scotland for her readers, allowing them to walk back in time while enjoying a fast paced, intricate tale full of intrigue, betrayal, and romance.  Her picturesque descriptions paint this world before your eyes.  The consistent dialogue completes the transition, really making you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.  I really enjoy how Howell presents life amidst chaos and betrayal.  Romance and chemistry don’t take a back seat simply because something has gone wrong.  At the same time, it doesn’t outrank that either.  Balance is key.   Howell presents her readers with characters who are physically, intellectually, and emotionally developed.  Not only are these characters easy to get to know but they are also easy to understand and relate to, regardless of the difference in time and circumstance.  Both of the main characters were the type of individuals that one could easily fall for.  At the same time the trials that they’d been through and the barriers to their relationship made my heart go out to them. The large cast, reaching out to clansmen, villagers, and even livestock and pets made me feel like part of this story, rather than simply part of the audience. This was a brilliant return to the Murrays.  Howell’s unique & wildly imaginative tale kept my attention, while the realism of the story made it infinitely more enjoyable.  I would highly recommend it to all lovers of historical romance, whether they’ve read the rest of the series of not. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
A nice historical romance that I ultimately enjoyed, Highland Guard was a lovely read. It wasn't perfect but I still liked it overall. Annys was a heroine determined to protect her home. She knew that she wouldn't be able to do it on her own, so she called for Harcourt to aid her. I liked how protective she was over her son and her home. My only issue with her was that I didn't understand why she was so reluctant to be with Harcourt again even though it was obvious that they still loved each other and the obstacle that had been in their way before wasn't there anymore. Her reasons seemed vague at best. But, I still liked her. Harcourt was a sweetie. He was determined to help Annys and would do anything for her. And I loved how he obviously cared for his son even from the distance that had been between them for the entirety of the little boy's life. He was great and I liked him. The romance was good. It was clear that Annys and Harcourt still loved each other. And they definitely had chemistry together. Annys's reluctance did slow it down and keep me from really getting into the romance, but I still thought they were good together. There were a few issues that brought the book down for me. First, I really wish we had seen more of Benet (Annys and Harcourt's son). I really wanted to see the building of a relationship between Harcourt and his son. Second, the story was predictable. I guessed exactly what was going to happen early on, so that kind of took away from any shock value. Third, and most importantly, the plot was slow. To the point where it dragged in some places. That kept me from getting completely drawn in to the story and the characters. Despite these issues, however, I still enjoyed the story overall. It was a nice read and addition to the series. It just wasn't the best of them.  *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is book 20 in the Murray Family series. Lady Annys MacQueen's home was under attack. She knew of only one person that she could call upon to help her, Sir Harcourt Murray. 5 years ago, Harcourt had agreed to father a child for Annys' husband to repay the debt of saving his life. Having gotten close to Harcourt during this time, Annys was heartbroken when he leaves without saying goodbye. Annys has never been far from his mind, so when she calls for his help Harcourt rushes to her aid. It's hard to ignore the passion to simmers just under the surface whenever they are near one another. They soon give into it just as their enemy strikes. Both have obligations to their home and people. Can they find a way to make their love everlasting? I love Howell's Murray series and this one is no exception. With this being the 20th book in the series, you would think that Howell would run out of good stories to tell but she clearly hasn't. I loved Harcourt and Annys. I hated that they had to hide their feelings for each other for the sake of her clan and her child. When they finally gave into their passions, I yelled a little cheer. Their son, Benet, was adorable and added much to the story. As did their pets, Roban and Roberta. I can't wait to see what Howell has in store for the Murrays next, but I know it will be awesome! Thanks go to Kensington Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
TammyS32 More than 1 year ago
I know if I am in a reading slump I can rely on Hannah Howell to bring me back. I am a huge fan of the Murray Family Series and this one did not disappoint. After the death of her husband, David, once of his cousin’s starts causing trouble for Annys. To save herself and her son’s inheritance, she has no choice but to contact Sir Harcourt Murray. The last time he was there he left David and Annys with a precious gift and the knowledge that he loved a woman that he couldn’t have. Will he be able to leave her behind again knowing she is free? Loved this read, plenty of drama and suspense and the chemistry between Annys and Harcourt is wonderful. Loved it!