Friday, May 1, 2009
A hand-picked cadre of warriors, they had the fierce courage of their Scots forefathers, combined with the stealth and cunning of the Indians who lived beside them in the wilderness. Battling the French in no-holds-barred combat, they forged a new brand of honor, became a new breed of men... MacKinnon's Rangers.
Iain MacKinnon had been forced to serve the British crown, but compassion urged him to save the lovely lass facing certain death at the hands of the Abenaki. He'd defied his orders, endangered his brothers, his men and his mission, all for a woman. But when he held Annie's sweet body in his arms, he could feel no regret. Though he sensed she was hiding something from him, it was too late to hold back his heart. In love and war, there are times when the only course of action is... SURRENDER.
I really, really loved this book! It was just my kind of romance. Historical, with a backdrop of Colonial upstate NY during the French and Indian War, plenty of action and adventure and a great love story that was wonderfully sexy and passionate - hot! I was swept up in this story and almost didn't want it to end! I wouldn't have known about this book if it hadn't been for Barbara at Happily Forever After who ran a contest - and I won (by default - but hey who cares? I got two autographed books as my prize!)
This book is primarily about Iain MacKinnon, a Ranger who with his two brothers, are transplanted Scottish Highlanders, the grandsons of the Laird of MacKinnon who perished at the Battle of Culloden. They've lived in Colonial America since they were young boys and have grown up to be braw fighters who know how to wield a claymore as well as a tomahawk. Iain is reminiscent of Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans, in fact much of the book is like it, since they both take place in upstate NY, near Fort Henry during the French and Indian War. Only this time, the hero is Scottish - yummm! Iain and his brothers are unfairly forced to be Rangers in the war by the surly British Lord William who is a commander of a nearby fort. He recognizes that the brothers would be a huge asset to him with their fighting prowess and Indian knowlege of battle and stealth. Three years later, they are still under Lord William when they come across Annie while out on a scouting mission.
Lady Anne Campbell has a tragic story. Raised in Scotland to a noble family, her father and brothers are killed at Prestonpans (on the loyalist side). She and her mother go to live with her father's brother who turns out to be a sadistic murderer. Annie pretty much witnesses the murder of her mother while having some sort of kinky sex - "unatural ways" - with him, and takes her family jewels and flees. But, she is caught and her uncle brands her a thief (on her upper inner thigh) and sends her off to the colonies to become an indentured servant for 14 years! After three months of suffering as an indentured servant, the family she works for is slaughtered by an Indian attack and she flees into the woods, running for her life to escape.
That's where she meets Iain MacKinnon.
Just as she thinks all is lost and she is going to be killed, Iain is there and stops the Abenaki Indian warriors by killing them and so begins the journey between Iain and Annie (as she calls herself, assuming a new identity for her freedom.) Annie is hurt and cold and Iain is tender with her and carries her on his back for miles and miles through dangerous Indian infested forests and woods. He has gone against all his well trained soldier instincts to save her, but he couldn't just let the Indians kill her, it would have been as bad as if he had killed her with his own hands! The bond that is created between these two during this time is great and long lasting. They come to know one another and even though Annie is intent on preserving her virginity she is sorely tempted by him, as he is to her. The sexual tension is fabulous, and the gradual build up of their feelings was a joy to read. I simply loved it! This story was so good and I was drawn into their plight and worried for them. Will they make it back to the fort safely? Will Iain get hurt fighting for her? Will she give them away with an inadvertent gasp amidst the enemy? It really kept me on the edge of my seat!
Finally, when they do reach safety, she helps nurse Iain (who gets 100 lashes for disobeying orders and rescuing her) back to health and gradually they are able to "get to know" one another. The sensual scenes between these two were something else. Not over the top, very well done, sexy, realistic and breathtaking! The author knows what she's doing! This one scene that involves shaving... *fans self*
I really loved both Iain and Annie. They made a great couple and deserved each other. Both are likable and radgie (love that word by the way!) and I was rooting for them every step of the way - I couldn't wait for them to finally get together and kiss! They deserved it after so much of what had happened to them and their struggles! Annie was brave yet realistic with her frailties. Young and pretty, her life had been turned upside down. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she deals with it and survives. Although she's unsure of Iain at first, she overcomes any prejudice she might harbor against him because he's a MacKinnon (their families are enemies). He appears uncouth to her at first, but that becomes nothing after she gets to know him. His natural nobility and command easily overshadows any misgivings she might have had about him at first. She grows to love his bravery and honor, his strength and cleverness - not to mention everything he does in bed! *swoon* She realizes just what a stroke of luck it was that brought them together when he first saved her. Kismet. But, even though Iain sounds too perfect to be true, he does have that "you are mine!" caveman streak in him. The barbarian in him comes out once in a while *sigh* Lucky Annie!
I don't want to spoil what else happens, but even after Iain and Annie's love is consummated, the story doesn't end there. Lord William has taken a fancy to Annie as well, and he gradually comes to realize he has met her before in Scotland. He enjoys playing games with her and Iain, only he's not very good at them and they keep backfiring on him. After a while, you sort of start to like Lord William. He turns out to be sort of a decent guy and not your stereotypical sadistic English jerk that you see so often in movies or books.
The other characters in the book are interesting too, but not too fleshed out, the other brothers I suspect are being saved for future books. Still, I enjoyed reading about some of the minor characters, many were endearing in their own ways and you feel badly when in battle if they're hurt or killed. The battle scenes were well written and gripping - really well done. The author did her homework and she truly has a way of sucking you in so you feel you are there facing battle, or hiding and praying the Indians or French won't find you. I felt I was there with them!
I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. Anyone who is a lover of the later books in the Outlander series will especially appreciate the setting of this book. A winner in every sense of the word - this is my kind of book! I'm sure this will be a re-read for me one day!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Barbara and Pamela Clare! I'm now eager to read my other prize from the contest, the 2nd book about the MacKinnon Rangers, Untamed.