Series: Highland Guard #1
Published by Ballantine Genres: Historical Romance
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.
Tor MacLeod, renowned for his skills with a sword and being a formidable Highland chief, is determined to stay out of Scotland’s war against England. His first dedication is to his clan and he doesn’t see the need to risk their livelihood in someone else’s fight. He gets entangled in a scheme where he ends up with a wife and an agreement to train an elite group of warriors for the Scottish cause but has no plans to command them when complete. His new bride, Christina Fraser, turns out to be more than he anticipated, determined to win his heart in spite of his efforts to the otherwise.
This is a fascinating story, entrenched in historical fact but made even more interesting with the fictional characterizations. The relationship between Tor and Christina is very complex. He agrees to take her as his wife because of a number of factors, none of them having to do with love. She, though initially repulsed by the fierceness of this warrior, is enamored of this man and works hard to gain his approval not only as a wife but a lover.
Meanwhile, the intrigue abounds as loyalties to England and Scotland aren’t always clearly delineated and there is a traitor in the midst of Tor’s clan. The warriors assembled for the elite force aren’t all on the same page and have divided allegiances to other clans. It takes all of Tor’s skills to accomplish his goals (in secret) for this group while also managing his clan. He’s also struggling with emerging feelings for his new wife that he’s just as determined to fight off as he is to fulfill his role as chief.
The story is so well written and effectively weaves fact and fiction. The tone of the dialogue is in keeping with the region and the era and every relationship is carefully developed. I loved the evolution of Tor and Christina’s relationship and while there were many steamy moments, you also experience her heartache as Tor refuses to commit anything more than physically. The ending is extremely exciting and satisfying and I definitely will continue this series.
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