THE SAINT - Monica McCarty
Highland Guard Series, Book 5
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-52840-7
April 2012
Historical Romance

Scotland, 1308

Magnus MacKay, known to King Robert the Bruce's secret Highland Guard as ‘Saint,' has seen his king through much already during the war with England. Now new danger emerges for the newly declared king: winning over alliances and factions to keep his position. His fellow guards gave Magnus the nickname ‘Saint' because of his disinclination for trysts with the women he encounters. Little do his fellow guards know Magnus lost his heart four years ago to Helen Sutherland, the daughter of his clan's enemy. He is devastated to attend William Gordon's—his friend and partner in the guards—wedding to Helen.

Helen knows she is unusual for a ‘lady.' She prefers to wander the clan's lands, to watch the birthing of animals, and to learn healing arts instead of the expected ladies' occupations of sewing, concern with fine clothing, and playing instruments. Unfortunately, at the very moment Magnus proposed, her brother Kenneth interrupted them and demanded Helen give up Magnus or her family. Four years later she allowed them to arrange a marriage with a friend of the family, William Gordon. When she sees Magnus, though, long dormant feelings return with a jealous vengeance. How could she possibly marry William feeling how she does about Magnus? But she does.

These star-crossed but chaste lovers have many battles to endure. With Magnus's guilt, his need to keep his actions secret, and Helen's brothers' objections to her choice, the two seem to fight impossible obstacles. Another problem is the fact not all Scotsmen want Bruce on the throne, and those against Bruce will stoop to any villainy to achieve their goal, which puts the king in constant danger. One of those men has an interest in Helen, too.

THE SAINT follows its preceding stories in a rich, historical Scottish background. Many of the former characters play small parts in this story, but the focus is on Magnus and Helen. They are both worthy, if misunderstood, characters. Their love is tangible, their sacrifices noble, and it will take many changes in both theirs and others' outlook to pull this romance together. Like all of the former stories, readers need not have read the previous books to understand the action in this one, which makes it a great series to read.

Robin Lee