Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce is retaking his kingdom from the invading English. To win, he’ll need all the grit and courage of his elite band of warriors, the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.
Fiery, aggressive, and bold, Kenneth Sutherland is a true champion—skilled with any weapon and driven to win. Now Kenneth is ready for his greatest challenge: joining Robert the Bruce’s secret army to fight among the elite. Kenneth’s best chance to attain that honor is by winning the Highland Games. Focused and prepared for victory, he is caught off guard by a lovely wisp of a woman—and a stolen moment of wicked seduction. Her innocent arousal and her shameless hunger fire his blood. He will win his place in the guard—and in Mary of Mar’s bed. T
he 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?
And here is GhengisMom's review:
In order for a book to get an A, in my mind, it has to be one of those books that makes me keep the Nook App open on my phone so I can sneak in paragraphs while waiting at red lights. This usually means that I am in love with the characters. They’re like making a new friend that you absolutely hit it off with and for the first few weeks you’re kind of a glutton for their company.
This book was not like that for me. At about page 120, I looked at the top of my Nook and groaned. Holy hell I still had over 200 pages to go. I headed over to Amazon and Barnes and Noble to see the reviews, and they were overwhelmingly praising this book. So, what in the world was I missing?! I chalk it up to three issues.
Number 1: This was book number six in the Highland Guard series. I have not read any of the others, and so this one felt anchorless. The back story that was given was told like an inside joke that I didn’t get. (This must be a ridiculously fine line to walk as an author because if I had read the whole series, I would be extremely annoyed to have to read the entire set up in every single new book.) And because there are obviously books to follow in the series, there was not a satisfying end to the book. Major plot points were left as cliffhangers. Does she find her twin sister? Is she dead? What becomes of her relationship with her son? What is up with Sir Adam? So, this just didn’t work as a stand alone for me.
Number 2: I’m not a huge stickler for historical accuracies in historical romance. I kind of see it in some ways as fantasy, in the sense that the author is world building. I mean, yes there is a time period backdrop, but I’m not going to freak out about the dress being the wrong style/color/name. I’m reading a love story; I suspend disbelief.
I’m a big fan of the “Historical” Romance where by “historical” I mean “wardrobe and carriage settings for the fairly modern thinking/acting characters.” When Kate Noble’s characters employ modern slang while strolling in Vauxhall Gardens, I don’t bat an eye. I know what to expect. I like modern sensibilities to my “historical” H&Hs.
However, if you set up your story with full-on historical context, framing out the politics and such of the day while using real historical figures as your characters, then I think, “Ok. This author wants me to focus on the historical part of historical romance and take the history seriously.”
But, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t submerse me in history and then yank me back out with contemporary ideas and phrases. For example, you can’t set up the history and ambience of Robert the Bruce’s Scottish Highlands with the dangers and political pitfalls of the Scottish rebellion, and then have the brutish hero be attributed with thinking an obscure-ish French expression that doesn’t even get coined for several hundred more years.
“He didn’t usually shy from a fight, he amended his earlier thought. Until now. Sangfroid, he told himself.”
Sangfroid?! He told himself “Sangfroid?!” I might have gone with it if the narrator said it, but not the supposed historical character. He goes on to repeat this to himself five or so more times throughout the book, each time yanking me out of the story.
Or how about,
“God save him from a modern ‘independent’ woman! Sweet and biddable suited him just fine.”
What exactly is “modern” and “independent” in 14th century Scotland?
Another historical pet peeve: if you write about real historical figures, I get quite put out to read an afterward that basically says that most of what you wrote about these real people isn’t even true. Just make up the characters names then. Don’t smudge the line between fiction and nonfiction.
Number 3: I really liked and respected the heroine, Mary of Mar. I thought she was well-written and extremely sympathetic. What she went through when she lost her son and barely escaped prison and death after her husband was jailed and executed a traitor, was very compelling. You could feel the very real danger and anxiety that she lived with. I understood her reluctance to enter a relationship with the hero, who, on paper, looked an awful lot like her first husband who ended up with his head on a pike. I understood her desire to make herself homely and fly under the radar to avoid trouble with the king while being forced to live in England.
If anyone deserved a HEA, it was Mary of Mar! But Kenneth, the hero, was not a person I wanted the heroine to overthrow everything (her safety, her peace, her new relationship with her son) in order to pursue. He gave red, hot orgasms, but that was about all I could see he had going for him. I didn’t feel like the heroine was making rash judgments. I thought she was making sound judgments. (Judgments that turned out to be dead on accurate.)
Plus, I can never root for a hero who at any point in the book sets out to “punish” the heroine or “make her pay.” Which this hero does.
Are my historical issues nit picky? Perhaps. They clearly didn’t get in the way of many others’ enjoyment of this book. I give this book a C because I did get emotionally connected to the heroine, which is why I wanted her to steer clear of the hero. Plus, some pretty steamy encounters between the H&H. But, if this hadn’t been a book I was reading to review, I probably would not have finished it.