Friday, April 15, 2011
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.
As much as I've enjoyed Monica McCarty's earlier books, this was just an okay highlander romance which is centered on a cadre of warriors who are a sort of medieval Delta Force trained to aid Robert the Bruce in his fight for Scottish independence. This is the first novel in her new Highland Guard series, each one centering on one of the invincible warriors who has his own particular talent for something. Unfortunately, I found a lot of the book predictable, although I appreciated the settings that took place on Islay and Skye, two places I have planned to visit on my trip to Scotland this summer.
One of my problems with the story was alpha hero, Tor MacLeod. He was a tad "too much" for my liking. Dour and grim, the chief of his clan is no nonsense and his clan comes first with everything. This is not unusual for the period, but I barely found anything likable about him. Christine Fraser, our frazzled and often misguided heroine, did nothing for me, I found her naivete exasperating. Often taking chances and getting herself into fixes, without the adorableness often found in a Julie Garwood medieval heroine, she was just plain annoying! Granted, she is put in a terrible position, forced to marry Tor against her will. A sacrifice, no matter how drop dead sexy he is. He has no time for a wife and makes it clear that all he's interested in is "bed sport." How terrible! *grin* He's angry that he had to marry her in the first place because he "accidentally" ruined her. He was tricked into having to marry her by her father. As a result, he's cold to her during the day, leaving her on her own most of the time at his castle on Skye. But at night Christine sees a different side to hm. He becomes a considerate and generous lover. Now, if only she can get the lover Tor to be more lover-like during the daytime!
To add some drama, of course there's the usual lack of communication between them. Christine is jumping to all sorts of conclusions about an "other woman" who Christine is convinced Tor is carrying one with. It doesn't help that she is his former leman. She has no idea what her husband is really up to all the time (he's training the rest of the Highland Guard) and he sees no reason to tell her. He doesn't want to put her in unnecessary danger - but does he tell her that? No! Finally, when she really is in mortal danger, he realizes he loves his young and desirable wife, but of course, only once he thinks he's losing her, does he admit it to himself. Oh no! Will he lose her before he can tell her?
I suspect this series is going to have more fighting and battle action in it than in her previous series. The romance between Tor and Christine was almost secondary to Tor's training of his Highland Guard. We get to know many of his warriors, thus setting up future books in the series for each one. Unfortunately, I don't intend to read on in the series. It just didn't capture my interest enough and I found it a little boring. Give me an interesting heroine who's more than just a pretty face and body with some humor thrown in to the plot line. On top of that make the hero less granite faced - he needs to lighten up. So what if it's historically inaccurate - it would make him more appealing. Then, I might be more amenable to continuing on with the series. As it is, I think I'll pass.