THE RECRUIT - Monica McCarty
The Highland Guard Series, Book 6
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-52841-4
ISBN: 978-0-345-53599-3
November 2012
Historical Romance

Scotland and England, 1310

King Edward of England killed Mary of Mar's husband, the Earl of Atholl, for treason. Atholl was loyal to Robert Bruce of Scotland. Now Edward holds Mary's son David, fostering him in his court. After an abortive effort to flee to Scotland in which her sister was involved and is now missing, Mary ekes out a living selling her embroidery. Sir Adam, another Scot, but one who supports Edward, helps her. Sir Adam also has secrets he doesn't reveal to Mary. When Sir Adam arrives with William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, he tells her King Edward wants Mary to go to Scotland with them as part of a truce delegation during the Highland Games. Hoping to regain her son, Mary agrees. At Dunstaffnage Castle, where the games are taking place, Mary witnesses a pair coupling in the stable. She watches unable to tear herself away and leave as she should. The man's performance mesmerizes her. He actually wants to satisfy his partner! Never has she witnessed such passion. Her husband never saw her as a desirable women like he did so many other conquests during their marriage, but she had loved and idolized him.

Kenneth Sutherland is at the games in the hopes of gaining Bruce's admission to his secret guard. Bruce tells him if he wins all the games, he will accept him in the guard. However, the woman who had watched him in the barn has captured his imagination more than any other ever has. Even once they make love, he is not ready to give her up, and soon he learns Mary is the woman Bruce wants him to marry. His temper explodes, and his soon-to-be brother-in-law, MacKay (THE SAINT), thwarts Kenneth from gaining his last win by taking advantage of his anger. Mary flees to England.

So much happens in this story it is very hard to condense. Kenneth and Mary will encounter one another again under very different and dangerous circumstances. Politics, warfare, espionage, and love's distraction create havoc but make a thrilling story. Kenneth needs to prove himself. Mary wants to protect her son and prevent herself from loving someone who doesn't love her. Like its predecessors, THE RECRUIT has a strong historical background and characters from the previous volumes appear in this story, which always makes an even more satisfying read. Author Monica McCarty specializes in impossible romances that can captivate a reader. These are stand-alone books, although once one is read, a reader will want to sample more. The author's endnotes are always an interesting bonus.

Robin Lee