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The Arrow: A Highland Guard Novel [Format Kindle]

Monica McCarty
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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9780345543950|excerpt

McCarty / THE ARROW

One



Berwick Castle, English Marches, 6 December 1312

There is nothing wrong with me.

Gregor drew his arrow back and let it loose. One shot. One kill. He wouldn’t miss.

He didn’t. The soldier froze in paralyzed shock as Gregor’s arrow found the narrow patch of skin between his eyes—­one of the few places unprotected by mail and the steel kettle-­cap the soldiers favored. The old Norse nasal-­style helm that the Highland Guard wore would have served them better. But even at this close range—­Gregor was no more than thirty yards away—­such a small target required skill to hit. Skill like that possessed by the greatest archer in Scotland.

A moment later, the Englishman’s mail-­clad body toppled to the ground like a felled tree. Before he’d even hit the ground, the next target already had appeared on the rampart. Gregor took quick aim and fired. He didn’t appear to think; his movements were as smooth and precise as a finely tuned engine of war. But the cool, effortless facade masked the intense focus and concentration underneath. Everyone was counting on him, but under pressure was when Gregor MacGregor was at his best.

Usually.

The second soldier fell as the arrow found its mark.

After nearly seven years fighting in the Bruce’s elite Highland Guard, no one was better at eliminating key targets in advance of an attack than Gregor. Targets. That’s how he had to think of them. An obstacle in between him and his objective that needed to be eliminated to achieve victory. And there had been plenty of obstacles over the past seven years.

But they were making progress—­real progress—­and the victory over the English that most had thought impossible was inching closer to reality. Since returning to Scotland from the Western Isles, where Bruce and those loyal to him had been forced to flee six years ago, the king had made steady gains in wresting his kingdom from English occupation. He’d defeated his own countrymen to take control of the North; Robbie Boyd, along with James Douglas and Thomas Randolph, had a firm grip on the lawless Borders; and the isolated former Celtic kingdom of Galloway was about to fall to the king’s only remaining brother, Edward Bruce.

All that were left were the English garrisons entrenched in Scotland’s castles, and one by one those were falling to Bruce as well. But none would be more important than Berwick Castle. The impenetrable stronghold in the Scottish or English Marches (depending on who currently had control) had seen more than its share of this war and had served as the English king’s headquarters on his previous campaigns. Taking it would bring them one step—­one big step—­closer to victory. But without siege engines, Bruce and his men had to rely on more inventive methods. Like the grappling-­hook-­and-­rope ladders two of Gregor’s fellow members of the Highland Guard were waiting to toss over the wall, as soon as he cleared the battlements of the enemy.

Gregor peered into the darkness, scanning the wall patiently, his pulse slow and steady. There had been three soldiers patrolling this section of the wall. Where was the third?

There! His reaction instantaneous, Gregor let loose the arrow at the first glimpse of steel as the soldier emerged from the shadows of the guardhouse. The man fell to the ground before he even knew what hit him.

Pop, pop, pop, and it was done. The targets had been cleared.

Gregor never missed. Which was why he was so valuable. When stealth was key, the Highland Guard could not risk an errant arrow or one landing in a part of the body that might give the enemy a chance to raise the alarm. Bruce’s success depended on subterfuge. And Gregor would do whatever he had to do to see Bruce permanently entrenched on Scotland’s throne.

Except that he had missed. Gregor bit back a curse of frustration. The third arrow had landed in one of the soldier’s eyes, not between them. To anyone else it might be on the mark—­dead was dead—­but not for him. For him, it was a miss.

And it wasn’t the first. The past few weeks—­months—­he’d been off by a few inches more than once.

It’s nothing, he told himself. A temporary rut. Everyone has them.

Everyone but him. He couldn’t afford to be anything but perfect. Too much was riding on this. The king was counting on him. And the small misses bothered him more than he wanted to admit.

Gregor took one more look before using hand gestures to let the others know that it was all clear. Leaving their position hidden in the shadows of the riverbank, the five men crept toward the White Wall. They were the advance guard. The men handpicked by Bruce to go over the wall first and open the gate from within to let in the rest of them. In addition to Gregor and his fellow Guardsmen Arthur “Ranger” Campbell, Lachlan “Viper” MacRuairi, and Erik “Hawk” MacSorley, Bruce had chosen James “the Black” Douglas for the honor of taking Berwick.

This was the most ambitious—­and dangerous—­attempt they’d made to take a castle by subterfuge yet. Two stone guard towers along the riverbank of the Tweed were linked to the main fortifications atop the motte by the steep winding wall with the apt name of “breakneck stairs.” So scaling the wall and taking the lower towers was only the first challenge; they would then have to climb the breakneck stairs and take the upper guard tower before the English became aware of what was happening.

Their task would be aided significantly by the ingenious ladder. Sir James Douglas or, depending on whom you talked to, Sir Thomas Randolph (the good-­natured rivalry between the two men for the position of the king’s most trusted knight was becoming legend, and they often vied for credit for the latest escapade) had come up with the idea of attaching iron grappling hooks to a rope ladder fitted with wooden footboards. It was light enough to be carried by two men and far easier to hide than the fixed wooden ladders used to scale walls. This would be their first attempt at using one.

Gregor scanned the area of the rampart above for additional soldiers, as Campbell and MacSorley—­who as a seafarer had plenty of experience with grappling hooks—­went to work tossing the hooks over the wall and securing the ladder into position. With the fierce Island chieftain’s uncanny ability to slip in and out of shadows, MacRuairi would go up first, and Gregor would follow, setting up in position along the wall to observe and, if necessary, get rid of any unexpected problems while the rest of the men made their way up the ladder.

Observation was Gregor’s secondary role. It was his job to make sure they weren’t the ones surprised.

The first part of their mission went smoothly—­too smoothly, which always made him twitchy. He’d been on enough missions to know that the only thing you could count on was that something always went wrong.

But the ladders worked better than they could have hoped. Within five minutes, Gregor was in position along the wall where he could see both guard towers, and the other men had cleared the wall and dropped down beside him.

With the dark leather light armor, the blackened nasal helms, and skin darkened with ash, they blended into the moonless night. Only the whites of their eyes stood out as they looked to him, waiting for his signal. Scanning the area one more time, he gave it.

The men spread out. MacRuairi and MacSorley went toward the guardhouse leading up to the breakneck stairs, while Douglas and Campbell headed down the stairs of the lower tower to open the sally port to the sea, where the rest of their men—­a force of fifty, given the size of the garrison at Berwick—­would be waiting.

Gregor kept his eyes on the wall, ready to loose the next arrow if necessary, knowing the next few minutes would be the most dangerous. Discovery now would leave the five warriors at their most vulnerable: inside the castle with nowhere to go, surrounded by two towers of sleeping soldiers. Silence was imperative until the towers could be taken, and the gate opened.

Gregor’s ears pricked at a faint sound. His gaze shot to the second guard tower, where MacRuairi and MacSorley were a few feet from entering. His brethren heard the light clicking sound, too, and froze.

Gregor had his arrow nocked and ready. He drew it back, poised to let it sail as soon as the first glimpse of the white of a man’s eyes emerged from the shadows.

Tick, tick, tick.

Damn it, that didn’t sound like footsteps. It sounded like a . . .

Dog.

A moment later, a mangy-­looking terrier—­its head no more than a foot off the ground—­trotted out of the shadows toward the two warriors. It had probably been scavenging the castle for rats when it heard something and decided to come investigate.

With Gregor’s gaze fixed at the height of an average man, it took him a moment to make the adjustment down. Bloody hell. The thing was so ugly it was almost cute.

The dog scampered to a sudden stop. It was about a dozen feet from MacSorley and MacRuairi, giving Gregor such an easy mark he could shoot it with his eyes closed. But he didn’t. He looked at the pathetic excuse for a dog and hesitated.

The dog seemed to be having second thoughts about approaching the two imposing-­looking warriors, proving that it was smarter than its half-­starved, unfortunate appearance suggested. Appearing to lose interest, it started to turn away, when something flashed in the moonlight.

The blade from MacRuairi’s drawn dagger.

The dog darted into the shadows of the guardhouse like it had just seen a ghost, letting out a torrent of terrified yapping behind it.

God’s bones! The dog might be small, but in the quiet night air the shrill, high-­pitched bark might as well have been a thunderclap. It had the same effect: disaster.

Gregor unfurled the arrow, but it was too late. The dog was lost in the shadows and the damage had been done. They might as well have rung a bell inside the towers, as soldiers poured out to investigate.

The quiet, sleeping castle had become a hornet’s nest.

With them caught in the middle.

He swore, knowing that not only had the dog cost them their chance at surprise—­and the chance of taking the castle—­but they were also going to have a hell of a time getting out of here without being caught.

But he’d be damned if he let his friends die because of his mistake. Drawing his sword, Gregor turned to face the onslaught of soldiers who were almost on him and shouted the words that had become feared across Christen­dom. The battle cry of the Highland Guard: “Airson an Leòmhann!”

For the Lion!

King Robert the Bruce sat behind the large table that dominated the small solar off the Great Hall of Dunstaffnage Castle and stared blankly at the three warriors.

Why the hell did Gregor feel like squirming? Bruce wasn’t his father—­the king was only seven years his elder—­but Gregor hated to fail at anything, and having to explain it to the man who was the last person he ever wanted to let down made it that much worse. There was no one he believed in more than Robert the Bruce, and Gregor would fight to his dying breath to see him claim his throne.

A claim that could have been much closer if Gregor hadn’t buggered up.

A damned dog. They’d lost the chance to take one of the most important castles in the Marches because the best archer in the Highlands had hesitated to shoot a little flea-­bitten ratter.

Elite warriors didn’t miss and they sure as hell didn’t hesitate. Gregor was still furious with himself even a week later. Furious, aye, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst was how after he, MacSorley, and MacRuairi had narrowly—­very narrowly—­managed to escape the hornet’s nest stirred up by the damned dog at Berwick, Gregor had nearly gotten them captured a few days later in the village. Or rather, his damned face had nearly gotten them captured.

The king finally spoke. “We lost our best chance to take back one of the most important castles in the Marches from the English because of a dog?”

MacSorley winced. “Aye, well, it wasn’t much of a dog to speak of, but it could have raised the dead with that bark.”

“It was a bit of bad luck, that’s all,” MacRuairi interjected.

If Gregor needed any more proof of how badly he’d erred, the fact that a mean bastard like Lachlan MacRuairi was trying to cover for him said it all.

“I didn’t think any of you fell prey to something so human as bad luck?” the king said with a wry turn of his mouth.

“It wasn’t bad luck,” Gregor corrected. “It was my fault. I hesitated.”

Bruce lifted a brow. “To shoot a dog?”

Gregor gritted his teeth, humiliation burning inside him. He was an elite warrior, the best of the best—­he wasn’t supposed to make mistakes like this. He didn’t make mistakes like this. Bruce was counting on him. But he had, damn it, and it had cost them. He met the king’s gaze unflinchingly. “Aye.”

“In his defense, sire, it was kind of a cute little blighter,” MacSorley added with a grin. “And we did find out one thing that is important.”

“What’s that?” the king asked suspiciously, expecting the jest.

“The rumors are wrong: he doesn’t just break hearts, he actually has one.”

“Sod off, Hawk,” Gregor bit out under his breath. But the blasted seafarer just grinned.

The king appeared to be fighting doing the same. Gregor’s reputation was well known. But that wasn’t the way of it. If women wanted to throw themselves at him for something as silly as how he looked, he sure as hell wasn’t going to stop them. What was he supposed to do, fall in love with all of them?

“And there were no other problems? Campbell and Douglas reported how they managed to hold off the English long enough to open the sally port gate and escape. But they feared you might have been trapped trying to go after them.”

That was exactly what had happened, but with the Highland gift for understatement, MacRuairi just said, “It was nothing we couldn’t handle, sire.”

Robert Bruce hadn’t won his crown by being a fool. He narrowed his gaze on the man who’d been one of the most feared pirates in the Western Isles before he’d agreed to join the Highland Guard and fight for Bruce. “Yet it took the three of you a week to return, my best seafarer is hobbling, my best marksman can’t lift his arm, and you are wrapped up around your ribs as tight as a mummy?”

“I didn’t say there weren’t any problems,” MacRuairi clarified. “I said it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.”

“I think you’ve been around my little sister-­by-­marriage for too long, Viper; you’re beginning to sound like a damned lawman!”

Janet of Mar, the sister of Bruce’s first wife, was married to their fellow Guardsman Ewen Lamont, and the lass could talk her way out of a shite-­storm.

Gregor had had enough. The embarrassment of telling the king what had happened couldn’t be more painful than listening to these two try to cover it up.

He stepped forward and gave a brief summary of how they’d gone in to rescue Campbell and Douglas, fearing they’d been trapped, and instead become surrounded themselves. They’d managed to fight their way out through about thirty soldiers, but he had taken a blow to the arm with a sword, MacRuairi had broken a few ribs when a war hammer connected with his side, and an arrow had landed in the back of MacSorley’s leg while they were running from the castle. As the other men had been forced to flee, leaving them without a quick means of getting away, with the English swarming and MacSorley’s leg gushing blood, they’d thought it best to lay low at a safe house in the village until the English gave up their search.

“A sound plan,” the king said with a nod.

Gregor held back a grimace. “It should have been.”

“But?”

Christ, this was like pulling his own teeth. “But our presence became known and the English surrounded the cottage where we were hiding. Fortunately, the previous occupants had dug a hole under the floor to preserve their winter stores, and we hid in there while the soldiers searched.”

“That couldn’t have been too comfortable.”

That was putting it mildly. Three well over six-­foot-­tall, broad-­shouldered warriors jammed in a space no more than five feet by five feet for nearly an hour had been hell.

“Good thing my cousin smells so sweet from all that bathing,” MacSorley said, referring to MacRuairi’s well-­known penchant for cleanliness. “The whole place smelled like roses.”

MacRuairi gave his cousin the cold, I’m-­going-­to-­stick-­a-­knife-­in-­your-­back-­when-­you-­least-­expect-­it look that had earned him the war name “Viper.”

“You were damned lucky not to be taken,” Bruce said.

No one argued with him.

The king sat back in his chair, crossing his arms contemplatively. “So is anyone going to tell me how your presence in the village became known?”

Gregor didn’t need to look to know that MacSorley was fighting laughter and dying to make some kind of jest—­especially as it was one of his favorite topics to jest about. You’d think that after seven years he’d grow tired of it.

Gregor should be so damned lucky.

Usually, it didn’t bother him, but this time it could have gotten them all killed. His mouth fell in a hard line. “It seems the farmer’s young daughter couldn’t keep a secret and decided to tell a few of her friends we were there.”

“A few?” MacSorley said. “The enterprising lass sold nearly a dozen tickets to see the ‘most handsome man she’d ever seen in her life.’ ” He added the last in the dreamy, singsongy voice of a sixteen-­year-­old lass that made Gregor itch to put his fist through that gleaming grin.

“Tickets?” Bruce asked incredulously. “You can’t be serious.”

MacRuairi nodded, smirking. “Aye, at a half-­penny apiece. And all these years, we’ve been getting to look at him for free.”

Gregor shot him a glare. Now MacRuairi was making jests? Christ, hell had truly frozen over.

“I told you not to remove your helm,” MacSorley said, still smirking.

“For three days?” Gregor replied exasperatedly, raking his hair back with his fingers. It was so bloody ridiculous. It wasn’t the fact that he was an elite warrior in the Highland Guard taking on the most dangerous missions that was going to get him killed, it was his cursed face.

Although he had to admit there were times when it wasn’t a curse—­in the alehouse last night, for example, with that pretty, buxom serving lass who’d crept into his bed—­but it sure as hell didn’t have a place in war.

Just once he’d like to meet a woman who didn’t take one look at his face and pledge her undying love. Or at least one who wasn’t married to one of his brethren.

Gregor stood silently as MacSorley and MacRuairi exchanged a few more barbs pointed in his direction. By the time they were done, even the king was chuckling.

Aye, it was bloody hilarious. He supposed there were a lot worse things than having women throw themselves at him, but sometimes it began to wear.

After a minute Bruce sobered. “So how long do you think it’s going to be before someone connects ‘the most handsome man she’s ever seen’ who was part of the failed attack on Berwick with Gregor MacGregor, the famed archer and ‘most handsome man in Scotland?’ ”

Gregor cringed again. Christ, he hated that moniker. “I don’t know, sire.”

That his anonymity in the Highland Guard had possibly been jeopardized was one of the worst parts of the whole fiasco in the village. They were all still reeling from the traitor Alex Seton’s defection to the enemy. He’d betrayed them all. God help their former brother-­in-­arms if they ever came face to face with him in battle. Although Seton’s former partner Robbie Boyd had been certain Seton would inform the English of their identities, thus far he hadn’t. But with what had happened in the village, Gregor knew it was only a matter of time before he was unmasked.

Having his identity hidden was one of the reasons he’d been so eager to join the Highland Guard. The anonymity—­the mask—­gave him freedom. He would earn a name for himself by his sword—­or rather, his bow—­and nothing else. There were no distractions like there were at the Highland Games. No well-­meaning relatives like his uncle Malcolm, chief of the MacGregor clan, telling him how to help his clan by marrying one of the women who were only too eager to take him for a husband. Gregor would defeat the English, help see the man who had been more a father to him than his own secured on the throne, and do his duty to his clan on his own merit. By deed and skill alone.

“Aye, well, neither do I,” the king said, “but I think it’s best if you stay out of sight for a while.” Gregor started to protest, but Bruce cut him off. “Only a few weeks. It will be Christmas soon anyway. I will send for you when we are ready to take Perth.” The king intended to begin laying siege to Perth Castle in early January. He smiled appeasingly. “God knows we can all use a little break. A few weeks to relax and clear our heads. I need you all at one hundred percent.”

The words were directed at all of them, but Gregor wasn’t fooled. The king knew Gregor had been struggling of late. That was the real reason for this “break.” Gregor had let him down. Shame twisted in his gut, but all he could do was nod.

“Besides,” Bruce said, handing him a folded piece of parchment, “this arrived from your brother a few days ago.”

Gregor let out a groan of deep dread, eyeing the note as if it carried the plague. Bloody hell, what had she done this time?

He took the note with reluctance, not wanting to know. Gregor hadn’t had much schooling, but his younger brother John had been meant for the church before their two older brothers had died, and he could write as well as read. Gregor had only a bit of the latter skill, but it was enough to make out the short missive. “Come as soon as you can. Emergency.”

Rather than raise alarm, the note only made him curse.

“Problems?” Bruce asked innocently.

He might be king, but that didn’t mean Gregor couldn’t glare at him from time to time. “It seems I’m needed at home.”

“Something wrong, Arrow? Don’t tell me those golden wings of yours have finally tarnished in your adoring wee ward’s eyes?” MacSorley said, guessing, as the king had, what had provoked the curse.

“She’s not my ward, you arse!” He ignored the reference to the lass’s mistaking him for an angel. Thank God for Helen MacKay. Until she’d arrived and assumed the nickname, MacSorley had called him Angel.

“Then what is she?” MacRuairi asked.

Hell if he knew. A termagant? A penance? God’s test of his sanity? The lass was always landing in some kind of trouble. From the moment he brought her home, she’d been causing “emergencies” of one sort or another.

Like the time she’d entered a local archery contest dressed as a boy in a hooded cloak and bested every one of the local lads, nearly causing a riot. Damn it, that was probably his fault. But he’d never imagined when he told her that she could learn to protect herself that the lass would take to warfare quite so enthusiastically. John, who’d been teaching her, said she was better than some men he knew. His brother was exaggerating, of course; she was only a lass—­and not a very big one at that.

But his first impression of her all those years ago had been right. The lass was a fierce little thing. A real fighter. She was also stubborn, proud, opinionated, bossy, and overconfident. All fine characteristics in a man, but not in a young girl.

It was hard to stay angry with her, though. She wasn’t a beauty by any means, but she was cute in an unassuming fashion. Until she smiled. When she smiled, she was as cute as the devil.

She also adored him. Which made him bloody uncomfortable. Especially lately, as she grew older. She’d become a . . . distraction. Which was exactly what he needed to be rid of.

“So when are we going to meet this wee lass?” Bruce said. Not such a wee lass anymore, Gregor recalled uneasily. The last time he’d been home—­a year ago, when his mother had died—­that fact had been brought home to him in an embarrassing fashion, when Cate had broken down crying and somehow ended up in his arms. And on his lap. “What was her name? Caitrina?”

Gregor nodded, surprised that the king remembered. Six years ago, when they’d returned to camp after leaving the lass with his mother, Bruce had been horrorstruck by what had happened to the villagers. He, like the rest of them, had been deeply moved by the lass’s tragedy and had taken a personal interest in her.

“Aye, Caitrina Kirkpatrick.” Though his mother had called her Cate.

“How old is she now?” Bruce asked.

Gregor shrugged. “Seventeen or eighteen.”

“Hell, Arrow,” MacRuairi said. “If you want to be rid of the chit so badly, why don’t you just find her a husband?”

If he weren’t such a mean bastard, Gregor would have hugged him. Of course! Marriage! Why hadn’t he thought of it earlier?

There was only one problem. He had to find someone fool enough to take her on.

Revue de presse

Praise for Monica McCarty and The Arrow
 
“[Monica] McCarty’s gift lies in writing strong characters into wildly entertaining—often unexpected—scenarios. Readers can’t go wrong with her latest.”The Washington Post
 
“The Highland Guard come to life as McCarty fills her tales with historical accuracy and moving romance. The ninth in the series is well paced, emotional and powerfully told. Don’t miss it!”RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
 
“One of the best Highlander historical series out there.”—The Reading Cafe
 
“Heart-wrenching . . . The Arrow made a lasting impression on me.”—Under the Covers
 
“A mixture of passion, history, and great wit to create a tale to captivate your senses! To die for!”—Addicted to Romance
 
“There is danger, laughter, and sweet love and secrets revealed. All the characteristics of a wonderful read.”—Tea and Book
 
“Monica McCarty is an absolutely superior author! Her Highland Guard series has to be one of the absolute best Highland series out there! Fun, fast paced, fact driven and totally fantastic!”—Bodice Rippers, on The Raider
 
“McCarty is a master at writing Highlander romance . . . keeping her Highland Guard series fresh, with spectacularly riveting plots and fabulously romantic couples. . . . If you’ve not read this series yet, then I strongly suggest that you do.”—Night Owl Reviews, on The Hunter

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 870 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 416 pages
  • Editeur : Ballantine Books (26 août 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00I1ZG6WC
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°39.066 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Bien, mais il y a beaucoup mieux dans la série 1 septembre 2014
Par Veniza
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
L'introduction est beaucoup trop longue. Le livre est émaillé de scènes d'amour très détaillées, c'est lassant. Toute l'histoire jusqu'à la moitié du livre consiste presque en un huis-clos entre les deux amoureux : je t'aime mais toi tu ne m'aime pas, puis je ne t'aime plus mais toi tu m'aimes ... la fin pourrait être intéressante mais semble précipitée. Je recommande ce livre aux grandes romantiques qui aiment les histoires d'amour compliquées, mais si vous préférez les aventures avec des coups de théâtre et des rebondissements vous allez vous ennuyer... Lisez plutôt «Hawk»ou «the chief» ou «the viper» nettement plus étoffés et remuants.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  188 commentaires
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Featuring my favorite type H/He (a strong-willed, spitfire + alpha male); this novel excels in both the love and action scenes! 26 août 2014
Par BJ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
The Arrow is a thoroughly enjoyable, highlander, Scottish historical romance. Featuring my favorite type of heroine (a strong-willed, spitfire) and hero (an alpha male); this novel delivers both on the frontlines of love and the battlefield. There were even some cleverly interwoven plot twists, that were slowly revealed throughout the book, which kept me on my toes! This was my first experience with Ms. McCarty's writing, but it most certainly will not be my last! I have now found a new go to highlander romance author!

Cait knows what it's like to feel defenseless. She watched as her mother was viciously raped and murdered unable to help her, the day her village was destroyed by evil, English soldiers. The only saving grace was that, as a result, she met Gregor "Arrow" MacGregor, a laird in his own right and one of the most skilled archers in Robert the Bruce's army. Gregor, not only saved her that day, but also assumed the responsibility of her guardianship.

Cait's love for Gregor continues to blossom as she grows up in his household. There she grows-up and is offered the opportunity to train in combat, a privilege usually reserved for men. Cait becomes so adept at it, that many years later, as Gregor is returning from a mission, he is shocked to find that the "lad" who is skillfully beating up on another is none other than his willful ward, Cait.

Even more demonstrative of her big heart, and further evidence of her mischievousness as far as he's concerned, Cait has taken in three children, who she believed had been abandoned, on the thinly veiled pretense of them being Gregor's "natural" children.

Soon Gregor who, at Robert the Bruce's orders, is supposed to be resting and recuperating before his next mission, after having his identity possibly compromised, is getting anything but R&R. Instead, he finds himself constantly being tormented with "inappropriate", lascivious thoughts of Cait. But Cait is determined to prove that she is now a woman, and that her intense love for Gregor, is not a mere infatuation.

Notwithstanding the undeniable fact that Cait is now a beautiful, full grown woman, there are a number of forces conspiring against their HEA. From the throngs of women who are constantly throwing themselves at Gregor, who has been professed to be the most handsomest man in all of Scotland, and trying to "trap" him into marriage, to the danger posed by secrets that both Gregor and Cait are hiding from one another, this love match will have to overcome a number of hurdles and threats, some of which will definitely take you by surprise!

I can't say enough good things about this romance! The sexual tension, romance and passion was well done, as was the character development of the hero and heroine, who both had to overcome substantial emotional impediments. Moreover, the action and attention to historical detail were also well implemented, further rounding out this five-star story!

Additionally, one feature, that went above and beyond my typical read was Ms. McCarty's Author's Note. So often, as a historical romance reader you are left to wonder as to exactly how much of a story is based on historical facts. Ms. McCarty takes the guesswork, and related research, out of the equation by providing a very enlightening, detailed account of her own research into the events described in The Arrow. This was an unexpected, and a highly appreciated, bonus!

All in all, I highly recommend The Arrow to lovers of highlander romances.

Source: I received a review copy from Random House Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 LOVE McCarty's Work! 26 août 2014
Par Leah Weller - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
Scotland - 1307

The English are hunting down The Bruce's men. They are killing the men, raping the women, beating the children, and at times killing them all, as they come to villages they feel are harboring those men. Cate hears them hurting her mother. She runs in hitting the man raping her mother, then is made to watch as they kill her, then take 10 yr. old Cate and drop her in a well and leave her for dead.

Gregor MacGregor is with Eoin MacLean, Ewan Lamont, and Tor "Chief" MacLeod, the leader of the King's secret band of elite soldiers known as the Highland Guard. They come upon the burnt out village. All women and children had been brutally killed. Gregor hears Cate's calls from the well and rescues her. She is starved and dehydrated. When Cate sees Gregor she thinks she's dead and seeing an angel. The Earl of Hereford's men had done this. Her mother was dead and Cate had no one... but she had her angel. She never wanted him to let her go. Gregor felt such a need to protect her, which left him confused because he's never felt this way about anyone. For her, he felt it through every bone in his body. Cate proceeds to tell him her father is dead although he really abandoned them when she was 5. He agrees to take her to his mother to stay with her. Over time, he comes to learn she's a tomboy....and a fighter for sure! She's always into something and it drives him batty.

Dunstaffnage Castle, December 1312

Gregor was standing in front of The Bruce, feeling about an inch tall, trying to explain why they failed taking the most important castle because he hesitated in shooting a dog that started barking, giving them away. He's been off with his shots for months now. The Bruce decides to send him away on a break over Christmas to let things cool down. He also received a note from his brother about an "emergency" and he knows it's about Cate. He's wondering what she's done now.

Cate has kept herself in trouble the last 5 years. She dresses as a boy and is constantly besting them all in archery contests. She's stubborn, speaks her mind, and if fierce. Everything a girl shouldn't be. She also wasn't a girl so much anymore. She's become a woman and Gregor is finding it hard to ignore how she makes him feel. His mother is dead and he doesn't know what to do with Cate. MacRuari suggests marrying her off and he agrees but wonders if he can find someone strong enough to take her on. What he doesn't realize yet is that she's set her sights on him.He eventually finds someone who wants to marry her but she doesn't want to marry anyone but Gregor. He breaks her heart by trying to deny he loves her and wants her for himself. She confront him telling him exactly how she sees him, how she loves him, then walks away leaving both their souls in pain. Monica's writing just pulls me in so emotionally, this part brought me to tears.

We have Maddy, Pip, and Eddie... children that have been left at the gates while Gregor has been gone ,with each mother claiming they are Gregor's by-blows, that Cate has taken in as her little family. John, Gregor's brother who's been running the castle in Gregor's absence. John is just itching for Gregor to stay home and take over as Laird so he can go fight for Bruce. Then there is Seonaid who has teased Cate relentlessly for years. This is one you will love to hate.

This story is filled with passion, heart break, perceived betrayals, trust, loyalty, and a deep abiding love. I find with each story I pick up by Monica McCarty that I am always left feeling enriched from having read it. Out of 20 years of reading,this entire Highland Guard series will always remain one of my favorites.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Yes I did like Cate! 21 septembre 2014
Par Danielle @ Coffee and Characters - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
4.5 Stars
Who could resist Gregor MacGregor? I certainly could not. The Arrow is a brilliant addition to the Highland Guard series and one that was highly anticipated. Monica McCarty did not disappoint. Gregor aka Arrow is well known as the most handsome man in all of Scotland and the title grates on him. Gregor hates being known for little more than his face and is use to woman throwing themselves at him for superficial reasons but Cate, Cate is different from all those other woman. She’s strong, brave, and determined to show Gregor that her love for him is based on more than a pretty face.

Watching Cate as she tries to get Gregor to see her as more than just his ward was a struggle at times. There were moments when I wished I could reach into the book and smack Gregor upside the head for being so dense and when Gregor began losing faith in the tender feelings he was developing for Cate, when he began second guessing her intentions based on his jaded past, well then I really wanted to smack him. Couldn’t he see how much she loved him? Could’t he tell that she would never be anything but genuine about her feelings for him? Men can be such morons sometimes.

Thankfully when all seems lost, Gregor finally pulls his head from his arse and we are able to put our faith in him once more. The Arrow had so many unexpected twists and turns that I was constantly biting my nails, waiting to see the story unfold. Monica built a world with a strong foundation based on history but managed to captivate our hearts with her beautifully written characters who’s hearts are more true than words can express. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next and am pleased to say that The Arrow is truly a great read.

There have been many criticisms regarding Cate our heroine, but what I gathered from the story is that Cate is strong. She is brave and stubborn and refuses to back down. She helps others and takes in those who need her. She has a strong desire to build a family, to gain the sense of belonging and security that was denied to her a child. Cate has struggled in life and had to face the rape and murder of her mother when she was only fifteen years old but that pain and that experience has not broken her. Cate is determined to be in a position to defend herself. She trains in warefare and can take down a man twice her size. How anyone can believe that she is unworthy of being our heroine, and unworthy of Gregor’s affections astounds me but that said, it is my belief that Cate is the perfect match for our Arrow and just as in the story when Seoniad was unable to see past her jealousy and desire for Gregor, I feel our readers are unable to see past their expectations of who the most beautiful man in Scotland should be with based on his looks, verses who our Arrow should be with, based on his heart.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Can't be the same Monica that wrote The Highlander Series. 16 janvier 2015
Par Francesca - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:MP3 CD|Achat vérifié
A story set in the Highlands should have at least the tone and words of the times.

This story read as a contemporary with no plot or excitement. It was geared more for the younger audience with the exception of the hundreds of pages involving thoughts, acts, lustful imaginings of sex between a man who is so experienced that he acts like a 15 year old, and a virgin who is so in love with him , that I still don't know how and when as he was never home.

I can't believe it was written by the same author that wrote the Highlander books.

I found it extremely boring.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Disappointed 13 septembre 2014
Par Carmens123 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Love you, Monica, but a little disappointed for the first time....ever. We've been waiting so long for Arrow to come out that, really, the pressure to meet everyone's expectations must have been astronomical at times. Not enough action, not enough of the rest of the Guard interacting, Arrow as basically a spoiled brat, and the scene at the alehouse.....so disappointed....I didn't care what happened to Arrow after that. I'm going to reread it and see if I feel the same way. Now, your previous novel with Boyd (Raider).....off the charts 5-Star good!!! :)
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