Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: The Chief by Monica McCarty

Title: The Chief
Author: Monica McCarty
Series: The Highland Guard, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: 23 March 2010

An elite fighting force unlike the world has ever seen...

Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. And to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.

The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland's war against the English. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one—especially not to his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his command of the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to Tor's bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.

Although her husband's reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes that something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina's reckless bid to win her husband's love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and to open his heart—before it's too late.

What a perfect book at the perfect time for me! I'm glad a whim made me decide to start this, because a good historical Highlander romance was just what I needed.

Christina is a young woman stuck in a bad situation - her father's one of the biggest a-holes I've ever had the displeasure to read. He abuses her, uses her, and dishonors her. That she still manages to have a kind, giving, optimistic soul after years of his treatment is something of a miracle. Her fantasies of a knight in shining armor were showed her to be incredibly naive, but I liked the journey she went on - from a frightened rabbit that's incredibly naive, to a strong woman who knows her worth. Her decision towards the end literally made me cheer, because she put herself first, knowing that she deserved so much more than what she was being given.

I simply adored Tor. He's gruff and stubborn as hell, but - like Christina - I saw through to the generous, caring, loving soul beneath. He's hardened himself to nearly everything because that's what he thinks it takes to make his clan prosper, and survive...until his new wife starts breaking that down, softening him. That he didn't even realize what was really going on was pretty humorous at times. I wanted to smack him upside the head a couple of times because he was being so thickheaded, but I understood it, too. He needed the brutal kick to realize exactly what he had, and when he did I loved how he went for it, to hell with everything.

In addition to two great characters that I was rooting for to find a way to be what they both deserved, this story marks the start of a series about the best warriors that Scotland (and England) have to offer in the coming war between Edward Plantagenet and Robert Bruce for the kingdom of Scotland. Each of these warriors will be getting a book, and I can easily say I'm very much looking forward to reading about this unconventional team.

I'm pretty far from an expert in this era in history, however I was completely immersed in the reality of the time in The Chief. It's clear that Monica McCarty knows what she's talking about, I was always comfortable in her history - my thoughts readily confirmed by the details of liberties taken and actual historical notes in the Author's Note at the end.

The Chief is the first book in The Highland Guard series, with the eighth due out in February of 2014. I have a lot to catch up on, and it's going to be my absolute pleasure. Ms. McCarty pens a wonderful romance, full of characters I can root for, set at a pivotal moment in history. I can't wait to dive back into her world.

Grade: B+

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