THE HUNTER - Monica McCarty
A Highland Guard Novel - Book 7
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-54391
July 2013
Historical Romance

Scotland, 1310

Since his mother died when he was born, Ewen Lamont watched his father become a drunkard and a foolish risk-taker. Most of the Lamont clan stood with the English, so his father follows Sir James Stewart. Ewen is at a meeting of Scottish lords to decide whether to surrender to the English or join Robert the Bruce in battle when his father takes another crazy risk. This time it kills him, but before he dies, he makes Ewen promise to finish the castle at Ardlamont for his mother.

Ewen has served in Bruce's secret guard, a group of supreme warriors who have helped turn the tide running against Robert the Bruce. Known as 'The Hunter' because of his extraordinary tracking skills, Ewen hopes his loyalty and service will gain him land and help reestablish his clan. Bruce sends Ewen and three other guards to the Bishop of Saint Andrews to pick up a secret message, but they are late. The bishop has sent the message on with a woman, Sister Genna. This worries the guard as the English are aware of the messages sent to Bruce through the church. Ewen finds Sister Genna talking her way out of a dangerous situation while surrounded by a group of English soldiers.

Sister Genna is actually Janet of Mar, sister-in-law to Bruce. Janet is the twin sister of Mary (THE RECRUIT, November 2012). She knows most of her family believes her dead as Mary saw the explosion. A group of nuns saved her. Janet became determined to help in Bruce's war against the English by delivering vital information.

Janet is very good at what she does, and her confidence, cunning, and ability to talk her way out of anything have served her well. As a fourteenth century woman with modern ideas, she is believable. Yet, those same qualities put her at great risk when she believes herself invincible. Attracted by Sister Genna, at first Ewen knows his interest in a woman of the Church can lead nowhere. After he learns of Janet's position, he knows she is out of his reach, plus Bruce has betrothed Janet to Ewen's overlord.

The story is full of action and suspense, but the overwhelming and constant sexual note between the heroine and hero becomes distracting. Janet's position as courier and status within the Scottish court also stretches credibility a bit, but the other stories have also dealt with strong women willing to stand against the English no matter what, so this addition keeps to the Highland Guard series' high standards.

Robin Lee