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The Hunter: A Highland Guard Novel
 
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The Hunter: A Highland Guard Novel [Format Kindle]

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

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Extrait

One

Coldingham Priory, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, English Marches

Ides of April, 1310

Ewen didn’t hold his tongue, which more often than not, caused him problems. “You sent a woman? Why the hell would you do that?”

William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, bristled, his face red with anger. It wasn’t the blasphemy, Ewen knew, but the not-so-subtly implied criticism.

Erik MacSorley, the West Highland chieftain and greatest seafarer south of the land of his Viking ancestors, shot Ewen an impatient glare. “What Lamont meant to say,” MacSorley said, attempting to mollify the important prelate, “is that with the English tightening their watch on the local churches, it could be dangerous for the lass.”

Not only could MacSorley sail his way through a maelstrom of shite, he could also talk his way out of one and come out smelling like a rose. They couldn’t have been more different in that regard. Ewen seemed to step in it wherever he walked. Not that he cared. He was a warrior. He was used to wallowing in muck.

Lamberton gave him a look to suggest that muck was exactly where he thought Ewen belonged—preferably under his heel. The churchman addressed MacSorley, ignoring Ewen altogether. “Sister Genna is more than capable of taking care of herself.”

She was a woman—and a nun at that. How in Hades did Lamberton think a sweet, docile innocent could defend herself against English knights bent on uncovering the pro-Scot “couriers of the cloth,” as they’d been dubbed?

The church had provided a key communication network for the Scots through the first phase of the war, as Bruce had fought to retake his kingdom. With war on the horizon again, the English were doing their best to shut down those communication routes. Any person of the cloth—priest, friar, or nun—crossing the borders into Scotland had been subject to increased scrutiny by the English patrols. Even pilgrims were being harassed.

Perhaps sensing the direction of his thoughts, Lachlan MacRuairi interjected before Ewen could open his mouth and make it worse with Lamberton. “I thought you knew we were coming?”

The thin, nondescript bishop might look weak, especially compared to the four imposing warriors who were taking up much of the small vestry of the priory, but Lamberton had not defied the greatest king in Christendom to put Robert the Bruce on the throne without considerable strength and courage. He straightened to his full height—a good half-foot under the shortest of the four Guardsmen (Eoin MacLean, at only a few inches over six feet)—and looked down his long, thin nose at one of the most feared men in Scotland, as MacRuairi’s war name of Viper attested. “I was told to look for you at the new moon. That was over a week ago.”

“We were delayed,” MacRuairi said without further explanation.

The bishop didn’t ask, probably assuming—correctly—that it had to do with a secret mission for the Highland Guard, the elite group of warriors handpicked by Bruce to form the greatest fighting force ever seen, each warrior the best of the best in his discipline of warfare. “I could not wait any longer. It is imperative that the king receive this message as soon as possible.”

Though they were in England, it was not Edward Plantagenet, the English king, of whom Lamberton spoke, but the Scottish one, Robert Bruce. For Lamberton’s efforts in helping Bruce to that throne, the bishop had been imprisoned in England for two years, and then released and confined to the diocese of Durham for two more. Although recently the bishop had been permitted to travel to Scotland, he was back in England under English authority. It was where Bruce needed him. The bishop was the central source for most of the information winding its way to Scotland through the complex roadway of churches, monasteries, and convents.

“Where did she go?” MacLean asked, speaking for the first time.

“Melrose Abbey by way of Kelso. She left a week ago, joining a small group of pilgrims seeking the healing powers of Whithorn Abbey. Even if the English do stop them, they will let her on her way once they hear her accent. What cause would they have to suspect an Italian nun? She is probably already on her way back by now.”

The four members of the Highland Guard exchanged glances. If the message was as important as the bishop said, they’d best make sure.

MacSorley, who had command of the small team for this mission, held Ewen’s gaze. “Find her.”

Ewen nodded, not surprised the task had fallen to him. It was what he did best. He might not be able to sail or talk his way out of a maelstrom like MacSorley, but he could track his way through one. He could hunt almost anything or anyone. MacSorley liked to say Ewen could find a ghost in a snowstorm. One wee nun shouldn’t give him too much trouble.

Sister Genna was used to finding trouble, so initially she wasn’t alarmed when the four English soldiers stopped them on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t the first time she’d been questioned by one of the English patrols that roamed the Borders from one of the castles they occupied nearby, and she was confident of her ability to talk her way out of any difficulties.

But she hadn’t factored in her companion. Why, oh why, had she let Sister Marguerite come along with her? She knew better than to involve someone else. Hadn’t she learned her lesson four years ago?

But the young nun with the sickly disposition and big, dark eyes so full of loneliness at being so far from her home had penetrated Genna’s resolve to avoid attachments. Over the past nine days on the journey from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Melrose, Genna had found herself watching over the girl who’d just recently taken her vows, making sure she had enough to eat and that the walking wasn’t tiring her overmuch. The girl—at barely ten and eight, Genna couldn’t think of her as anything else—had already suffered one breathing spell since leaving Berwick. Sister Marguerite suffered from what the Greeks called “asthma.” The lung ailment had taken her from her home in Calais in a pilgrimage to seek the healing powers of St. Ninian’s shrine at Whithorn Abbey.

But Genna’s journey had come to an end at Melrose, and when the time had come for them to part ways this morning, she’d found her throat growing suspiciously tight. Marguerite had looked at her with those soulful brown eyes and begged Genna to let her walk with her part of the way. And God forgive her, Genna had relented. “Just as far as Gallows Brae,” she’d told her, referring to the small foothill not far beyond the market cross where the church used to hang its criminals. What harm could come to the girl in the middle of the day, a stone’s throw from the abbey?

Plenty, it seemed.

Marguerite gave a startled cry as the soldiers surrounded them, and Genna cast her a reassuring glance. It will be all right, she told her silently. Let me handle it.

Genna turned to the thickset soldier with a tinge of red in his beard, whom she took for the leader. Seated on his horse with the sun behind him, she found herself squinting at the gleam from his mail. What little she could see of his face under the steel helm and mail coif looked blunt, coarse, and none-too-friendly.

She spoke at first in Italian, with its roots in Vulgar Latin, which it was clear he didn’t understand, and then in the heavily accented French that she used with Sister Marguerite and was more commonly understood in the area, which he did. Looking him straight in the eye and giving him her most reverent smile, she told him the truth. “We carry no messages. We are only visitors to your country. How do you say . . . p-p,” she feigned, looking for the right word.

He stared at her dumbly. God, the man was thick—even for a soldier! Over the past few years she’d run into her share. Giving up, she pointed to her pilgrim’s staff and the copper scallop-shell badge of St. James that she wore on her cloak.

“Pilgrims?” he filled in helpfully.

“Yes, pilgrims!” She beamed at him as if he were the most brilliant man in the world.

The man might be thick but he wasn’t easily put off. His gaze sharpened first on her and then on Marguerite. Genna felt her pulse jump, not liking the way his gaze turned assessing. “Why do you not speak, sister? What are you doing out here on the road alone?” he asked Marguerite.

Genna tried to answer for her, but he cut her off. “I will hear from this one myself. How can I be sure you are foreigners as you say?” He said something in English to one of his companions, and Genna was careful not to react. She didn’t want him to realize that she understood English. Not even Marguertite knew. “Look at those tits,” he said, pointing to Marguerite. “Bet they’re half her weight.”

Marguerite shot her a terrified look, but Genna nodded her head in encouragement, glad for Marguerite’s ignorance of their words. Still, Genna’s heartbeat quickened.

“We were saying goodbye, monsieur,” Marguerite explained in her native French.

His eyes sparked. “Goodbye? I thought you were on a pilgrimage?”

Fearing what Marguerite might unintentionally reveal, Genna interrupted again. “My destination was Melrose. Sister Marguerite seeks the healing powers of Whithorn Abbey.”

His eyes narrowed on the young nun, taking in her thin face and pale complexion. For once, Genna was grateful that the fragile state of Marguerite’s health was reflected in her delicate appearance.

“Is that so?” he asked slowly. “I did not realize Melrose Abbey was a popular pilgrimage destination.”

“Perhaps not as popular as Whithorn or Iona, but popular enough for those who revere the lady,” she said, crossing herself reverently, and he frowned. Melrose, like all Cistercian abbeys, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

“And you travel by yourself? That is quite unusual.”

Genna had had a dog like him once. Once he got hold of a bone, he wouldn’t let it go. She just needed to find a way to get him to drop it. But first she had to make sure Marguerite was safely away. “In my country, no. Only someone possessed by the devil would harm a bride of Christ.” She paused innocently, letting him contemplate that. His face darkened, and she continued, “There is a group of pilgrims we passed on their way to Dryburgh Abbey,” which was only a few miles away. “I hope to join them for the rest of the journey. Perhaps you will be so kind as to show me the way?” Without waiting for him to answer, she pulled Marguerite into a hug. With any luck, Marguerite would be gone before he realized what she’d done. “Goodbye, Sister. Godspeed on your journey,” she said loudly, then whispered in her ear so that only she could hear, “Go . . . quickly . . . please.”

The girl opened her mouth to argue, but Genna’s hands tightened on her shoulders to stave off her protests.

Marguerite gave her a long anxious look, but she did as she was bid and started to walk away. She tried to slip through a gap between two of the horses, but the leader stopped her. “Wait there, Sister. We have not finished our questions yet. Have we, lads?”

The way the men looked at each other made Genna’s pulse take an anxious leap. They were enjoying this, and it was clear that it was not the first time they’d been in this position. Could these soldiers have something to do with the group of nuns who’d gone missing late last year?

She looked around for help. It was the middle of the day—mid-morning, actually. Surely someone would pass along this way soon. However, although the village was just behind them, the thick trees that shrouded the road like a leafy tunnel prevented anyone from seeing them. And even if they were seen, would anyone interfere? It would take a brave soul to stand up to four mail-clad English soldiers.

Nay, it was up to her to get them out of this. She’d tried appealing to the leader’s vanity and that hadn’t worked. Nor had appealing to his honor, which appeared distinctly lacking. The man was a bully, who liked to prey on the weak and vulnerable—which, fortunately, she was not. But he’d shown discomfort when she reminded him of her holy status, so she would concentrate on that.

A quick glance at Marguerite made her heart sink with dread. God help them, fear was bringing on one of Marguerite’s attacks! Though it had happened only once before, Genna recognized the telltale quick gasping of breath.

Genna didn’t have much time. Having lost patience with the soldier’s game, she rushed over to the girl and pulled her under her arm protectively. She murmured soothing words, trying to calm her down, all the while glaring up at the captain. “Look what you have done. You have upset her. She is having an attack.”

But the words seem to have no effect on the man. “This won’t take long,” he said. “Bring them,” he said to his men in English, presumably so she wouldn’t understand.

Before Genna could react, she and Marguerite were being dragged deeper into the forest, her staff lying useless in the leaves behind them. Marguerite was clutching at her frantically and let out a desperate cry when the soldiers finally managed to separate them.

Genna tried to appear calm though her heart was racing. “Don’t worry, Sister,” she said confidently, “this will all be sorted out quickly. I’m sure these good Christian men mean us no harm.”

It was a sin to lie, but in some cases, she was certain it would be excused. Genna didn’t need to understand the soldiers’ words to guess what they planned. But unfortunately, she understood every one of them, so she heard the chilling details.

“The old one is prettier,” the captain said, switching again to English to speak to his men. “But we’d better start with the sickly one in case she doesn’t last. I want to see those tits.”

Genna forced herself not to show any reaction to his words, but anger, and perhaps a twinge of fear at hearing them talk so matter-of-factly about rape and the death of her friend, surged through her. She had no intention of allowing that to happen. And seven and twenty was mature, not old!

The situation was deteriorating, but Genna had been in lots of sticky situations before. This might be stickier than most, but it wasn’t over yet.

The soldiers didn’t bother taking them very far, almost as if they knew no one would dare interfere. Bruce might control the north of Scotland, but the English reign of terror was still in full force in the Scottish Marches. The English operated with impunity—except for the occasional raid or ambush from Bruce’s men. The English were no more than brigands with authority, Genna thought. But soon Bruce would send them running back to England. She had put herself in this position to help ensure that happened.

They entered a small clearing in the trees, and the men released them with a hard push. Both women stumbled forward, Genna barely catching herself before falling to her knees. Marguerite wasn’t so fortunate, and Genna watched in horror as her gasping intensified. She couldn’t seem to get off her hands and knees, as if the effort was too much for her.

“I see she’s ready for us,” one of the soldiers snickered.

Genna bowed her head, muttering a prayer in Latin so the men wouldn’t see the heat rise to her cheeks in anger. She might be innocent, but she’d been in enough barns with rutting beasts to understand their meaning. Apparently, men were no different.

The captain was eyeing Marguerite’s raised bottom. When his hand reached under his habergeon mail shirt to loosen the ties at his waist, Genna knew she had to act fast.

She stepped between them, trying to turn him from his foul intent—or at least turn it to her. “My sister is ill, sir. Perhaps if you tell me what you are looking for I can clear up this misunderstanding, and we can all get on with our duties. Ours to God,” she reminded him, “and yours to your king.”

It was clear he’d forgotten the original purpose for which he’d stopped them. “Messages,” he said, his gaze drifting impatiently to Marguerite behind her. “Being carried north to the rebels by churchmen—and women,” he added. “But treason will not hide under holy vestments any longer. We’ve had reports that many of these messages have passed through Melrose Abbey. King Edward intends to put a stop to it.”

“Ah,” she said, as if in sudden understanding. “Now, I see the reason for your suspicion, sir. You were certainly justified in stopping us, but as I told you, neither Sister Marguerite nor I carry any of these messages.” She held out the leather bag she carried with her belongings for him to inspect. Bending down, she reached for Marguerite’s small purse, trying to ignore the frantic gasping of her friend’s breathing. Comfort would have to wait. Untying it, she held it up to him. He barely glanced inside before tossing it away.

“See?” she said. “Nothing to hide. Now that we have proved to you our innocence, you have no cause to detain us.”

He was angry; she could see that. But the longer she delayed him, the more time he had to think about his actions—his unjustified actions. He seemed to be hesitating when one of the men suggested, “What if it’s hidden someplace else, Captain?”

She pretended not to understand him, but a cold chill ran down her spine as a slow smile spread up the captain’s mouth. He reached down and tore off her veil. She cried out as the pins were ripped free, and her hair tumbled down her back in a heavy silken mass. Her hands immediately went to her head, but there was no way to hide it.

She swore under her breath at the reaction it provoked, hearing the exclamations and oaths. The long golden tresses were her one vanity—her one connection to her past identity. Janet of Mar was dead; it was silly to hold on to what she’d been. But she couldn’t bear to cut her hair as most of the nuns did. And now that vanity might cost her.

The captain let out a slow whistle. “Would you look at that, lads,” he said in English. “We found ourselves a real beauty. Wonder what else the lass is hiding under those robes?”

No amount of training could have prevented her from flinching at the words she was not supposed to understand, knowing what he meant to do. Fortunately, he was too caught up to notice her reaction. He pulled her to her feet, put his gauntleted hands at her neck, and ripped the coarse wool fabric of her scapula and habit to the waist.

Marguerite screamed.

Genna might have too. She struggled, but he was too strong. He tore the cloak from her neck and tugged the damaged gown past her shoulders. All that prevented her from nakedness was a thin chemise that was far too fine for a nun—another indulgence—but he didn’t notice. And after a few more tears, that was gone too. Wool and linen had been reduced to strips of fabric hanging off her shoulders. She tried to cover herself, but he pulled her arms away.

The captain’s eyes grew dark with lust as his gaze locked on her naked breasts.

Her heart froze in terror. For one moment her confidence faltered.

“What does she have on her back, Captain?” one of the men said from behind her. Genna wanted to thank him. His words—his reminder—struck the fear from heart, replacing it with fiery determination. She would get them out of this.

She spun on him, not bothering to cover herself. “They are the marks of my devotion. Have you never seen the mark of whips and a hair shirt?”

The men startled. Genna knew what they saw: the horrible lines of pink puckered flesh that marked her pale back. But she didn’t see them that way. The scars were a reminder, a badge she wore to remind her of a day she could never be allowed to forget. Of a man who’d been like a father to her whose death was on her soul. These scars had made her stronger. They’d given her a purpose.

“I’ve never seen scars like that on a woman before.”

“I’m not a woman,” she snapped at the man who’d spoken. He was younger and not as certain as the others of the course his captain had set upon. “I’m a nun. A bride of Christ.” She hoped this was another one of those times that a lie wouldn’t be considered a sin. She pulled down the shreds of cloth that remained, turning slowly so each man could see. “Touch either of us and you will suffer eternal hellfire. God will punish you for your transgressions.”

The younger man went white.

She looked back to the captain, her eyes blazing with the fury of her conviction, daring him to come near her. “Our innocence is meant for God. Take it and you will suffer.” The captain started to back away and Genna knew she had won. She stepped toward him, unrelenting and uncowering. “Your body will burn with the fire of your sin. Your manhood will shrivel to black, your bollocks to the size of raisins, and you will never know another woman. You will be damned for eternity.”

Revue de presse

Praise for The Hunter
 
“[Monica] McCarty breathes life into her memorable characters as they face dangerous adventures. The fresh plots, infused with romance and passion, are also brimming with history and drama. She’s outdone herself with this fiery story of a forbidden love. What a fantastic addition to the series!”—RT Book Reviews
 
“McCarty creates an enjoyable romance with torrid chemistry, appealing characters, and believable historical situations.”—Publishers Weekly
 
The Hunter is another strong addition to an excellent ongoing series about the lives and loves of the Highland Guards. . . . The research of the time period is very well done, and with an earnestly believable personal story woven in seamlessly. This is another highly enjoyable action-filled read for fans of the series, but can easily be read standalone.”Fresh Fiction
 
“McCarty is keeping her Highland Guard series fresh, with spectacularly riveting plots and fabulously romantic couples. . . . McCarty is a master at writing Highlander romance. . . . If you’ve not read this series yet, then I strongly suggest that you do. The Hunter is a must read for all historical romance readers.”—Night Owl Reviews
 
“The adventures of the Highland Guard never disappoint in providing excitement and political intrigue in this series. The historical aspects of the era are finely woven into the wonderful storytelling. . . . But, the romance is the real jewel this time and made The Hunter a truly exceptional story.”—The Book Nympho
 
Praise for Monica McCarty
 
“Monica McCarty is a master of blending fact and fiction.”—Romance Junkies

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1552 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 402 pages
  • Editeur : Ballantine Books (25 juin 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00AUSCOT2
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°9.580 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Courageuses femmes 17 février 2014
Par Veniza
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Dans ce livre nous avons une héroïne enfin à la hauteur du héros, elle le surpasse même en témérité. Janet de Mar se déguise en none italienne afin de servir de relais dans la transmission d'infos vers Robert the Bruce, bref elle espionne ! Cette femme intrépide fait néanmoins l'objet de surveillance qu'elle arrive toujours a déjouer, même quand les situations se corsent.
Notre ami Ewen dit "the hunter" tombe amoureux d'elle et est chargé de la faire rentrer en Écosse. Cependant la belle n'a qu'une chose en tête, terminer une dernière mission qui devrait véhiculer une information capitale pour sauver Bruce.
Y parviendra-t-elle ? Heureusement que Ewen veille.....
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  124 commentaires
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 So much better! 29 juin 2013
Par Reader and Reviewer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I absolutely adored the first few books in the Highland Guard series, but the last two not so much. So, I was a little nervous going into The Hunter. I am glad to say that my concern was misplaced. With The Hunter, Ms. McCarty has returned to my top Highlander authors list.

Ewen is the chieftain of a minor clan. He is strong and loyal. He has all the qualities that make up a great chieftain. He is known for his tracking and evading skills. Because of this and his unquestionable loyalty, Robert the Bruce requests his help.
(I wonder if request is the right word. I can not imagine The Bruce requesting anything :)

Evan is given the task of tracking a missing courier and making sure that information makes its way safely to The Bruce. The courier is unusual to say the least. First of all, she is female. Secondly, she is an Italian nun.

Finding Sister Genna is the easy part but returning her safely to The Bruce is a whole nother ball game.

Sister Genna is not really a nun. She is actually Janet of Mar. Whom everyone believes to be dead. Janet is really a true and very loyal Scot. She is pretending to be a nun to aid the Scottish rebellion.

The English suspect that the church is being used in the Scottish rebellion. So, Janet is in danger. Now she must trust in Ewan to keep her safe.

Janet has never considered marriage. She always thought of herself as a soldier of the rebellion. She believes love will get in the way of her helping The Bruce bring the thrown back to Scotland. That changes when she meets Ewen.

Ewen is also attracted to Janet, but he is horrified that he has romantic feelings toward a nun. This attraction adds even more trouble to an already dangerous mission.

Janet makes some stupid mistakes on their journey to The Bruce. Mistakes that not only put her life in danger but also Ewan's. Thanks to Ewan's intelligence and skills, they make it out alive.

Do you want to know if they made it The Bruce? How about the feeling they share? Did they finally give in to their hearts? Well, you will have to read The Hunter to find out. I will tell you that it was an action packed journey, with lots a twists and turns on the way.

As always Ms. McCarty's writing was amazing, and I loved that she returned to a more romance based plot. She captured my interest and then my heart. I do believe Ewan is my second favorite Highland Guard member. Coming in second only to Hawk. (I mean really how could anyone compare to Hawk?)

Why the four stars? Well, I got tired of waiting for someone to act on their feelings. I also thought that Janet kept her nun charade going a bit too long. Other than those two things, this book was an awesome read.

Would I recommend it? Yes

Review for Netgalley
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Review for The Hunter by Monica McCarty 27 juin 2013
Par Alyssa - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Hunter by Monica McCarty
Book Seven of the Highland Guard series
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

The war for Scotland's freedom continues as King Robert the Bruce battles on. At his command is an elite army of trained warriors, soldiers dedicated to their king, their country--and to the remarkable women they love.

Prized for his unbeatable tracking skills, Ewen "Hunter" Lamont accepts a dangerous assignment: locate a missing undercover courier. But this is no ordinary target. Ewen has met his prey before as "Sister Genna," a fiery, forbidden woman forever etched in his memory after one stolen, sinful kiss. Now that he knows her real identity, he's more determined than ever to keep her safe. But without the protection of the veil between them, fighting the allure of the beautiful lass may be the toughest battle this extraordinary warrior has ever faced.

After her ill-fated attempt three years ago to rescue her twin sister, Janet of Mar has found salvation acting as a royal messenger--until she surrenders to a darkly handsome warrior whose rough, sensual kisses stir feelings the woman in her can't deny. But when betrayal leads to danger, and a crucial communiqué is put in jeopardy, Janet has no choice but to put her faith in the hunter who can find anything--perhaps even her heart.

What I Liked:

Okay, so, I'm not exactly sure what kind of historical fiction this book is, but it is dubbed "Highland", so I'll go with that. It's not the typical historical fiction I've been reading - like, Regency London, and that sort. This seems like medieval historical fiction, in Scotland. But whatever. This book was FANTASTIC.

I didn't know what to expect from this book, since it isn't the same era of history that I am used to reading, but I loved it! Ewen and Genna really dazzle readers in this book, as they run and chase and fight their way to the King, and to themselves.

That being said, the plot of this book is outstanding. I was never very bored in this book, as there was constant action throughout the book. I was a bit confused in the beginning, with Ewen's history, but I read on, and could see how that history came into play in the novel.

The characters were very, very well-written. I was impressed by how three-dimensional the characters seemed, and how much depth even the secondary characters had. Genna (Janet) is such an awesome heroine - believe me, she is truly an excellent messenger. She got herself out of sticky situations time after time after time. Ewen is incredible as well. It's remarkable to see why he earned his title as "the hunter".

The romance is wonderful! It was not instant and earth-shattering, but the chemistry is pretty sizzling. Genna (Janet) is a fabulous heroine, and Ewen really complements her. Both of them are very clever and intelligent, and they constantly try and outsmart each other. It's adorable and endearing to "watch" the two of them struggle within themselves, to discover what is best for themselves and each other.

I loved the ending of this book! Even when I thought the climax was over, and the falling action had fallen enough, and everything was smooth sailing, it wasn't! Ms. McCarty had readers interested up until the very last word of the very last page - because everything didn't wrap up all at once.

Overall, I loved this book! I wish I could have started at the beginning of the series (this book is book SEVEN), and perhaps I will!

What I Did Not Like:

This is really a small thing, but I feel like this book was so long. I usually love long books, but some scenes and descriptions could have been cut down. There's nothing like non-stop action, and then a huge description to kill the buzz.

But it wasn't a big deal. I skipped some of the longer descriptions (like in the very beginning), and I was fine while reading the book!

Would I Recommend It:

Totally! If you like medieval fiction, this is definitely one for you!

Rating:

4 stars. Now let me go back and read the previous six books :D
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Utterly scrumptious!! (And I don't just mean the cover.) 9 août 2013
Par A Night's Dream of Books - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
(REVIEWER'S NOTE: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I REALLY liked this book!!)

This is my first McCarty novel, and it surely won't be the last! Furthermore, I definitely want to catch up by reading the previous books in this great series!

As is evident from the "Author's Note" at the end of the book, McCarty has done her research well. This novel is based on real people. The Lamont family really existed, and one of them was even named Ewen. Robert the Bruce was also a historical person. He was the King of Scotland, and really was involved in the war against England for Scottish independence.

Against this fascinating background, McCarty has created a very compelling, very sweet romance. Ewen Lamont, otherwise known as "The Hunter" for his expert tracking skills, is a very handsome young Scottish patriot. He's a member of the Highland Guard, a fictional band of secret 'phantom warriors' who harass the English forces at every opportunity.

Aiding the Scottish war effort is a group of couriers who secretly deliver messages to Robert, thus enabling him to send his Highland Guard to ambush the English with deadly accuracy. These couriers include nuns and priests, incredibly enough. In the book, they are known as 'couriers of the cloth'. One of them is 'Sister Genna' an Italian nun. Except that she's not really a nun, nor is she even Italian. She's really Janet of Mar, the fictional twin of the real-life Mary of Mar. Her identity is kept secret so that she can carry on her work.

Ewen and 'Sister Genna' meet when she and a young novice named Marguerite are accosted by English soldiers while on a 'pilgrimage'. Ewen and MacLean (another member of the Highland Guard), who had been sent to look for 'Sister Genna', suddenly appear, and attack the soldiers.

Ewen is instantly attracted to Janet, whom he of course believes to be a nun. However, he's also upset that a woman is engaged in the dangerous activity of carrying messages to the Scottish king, in the middle of a war. He makes it clear to her that he totally disapproves of this, even as he fights his growing feelings for her.

The author introduces some interesting psychological conflicts into this gradually blossoming relationship. Ewen has issues regarding his late father, while Janet has been carrying a burden of guilt regarding her twin sister, Mary. She feels that she must somehow atone for this by continuing to assist Robert the Bruce as a courier.

Ewen becomes more and more intent on protecting Janet, while she contends that she doesn't want to be coddled, and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

The plot moves along quickly, alternating between danger and the tensions --psychological as well as sexual -- between the two leads, thus ensuring a page-turning, very entertaining read.

The action scenes in the novel are very well done, and I kept reading to see how Ewen and Janet would get themselves out of one scrape after another. Janet is not only adept with her words, which can sway even hardened soldiers, but she's also very handy with a knife.

Now, as for the love scenes....ah, the love scenes.....Ms. McCarty has a very nice touch with these, infusing them with just the right amount of longing, passion, and sweetness! There's enough description to tantalize the reader's senses, but it's all very romantic. I don't like erotica, which is much too graphic for me. These lovely scenes were indeed sexy, but they were also laced with the tenderness and care that only people truly in love can feel.

Some of the other Highland Guard members also make an appearance in this novel, as does Robert the Bruce himself. In spite of his fierceness and authoritative manner, he actually does respect Janet as a person, which I found to be highly unusual, considering the time period.

For historical romance fans, this novel is a pure delight! It is the story of two strong personalities who ultimately realize that they can't live without each other, and learn to compromise in order to do so. Furthermore, the historical setting creates a perfect backdrop for all the emotional intensity of this relationship. I really enjoyed the ride!
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 3.5 Out of 5 25 juillet 2013
Par FaeRhi - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
From the moment I saw that this book involved Scotland and a highlander, I wanted to read it. I have an affinity for all things Scottish, even though I've never visited the country myself (though I desperately want to). It's one of the main reasons that Gerard Butler is my perfect man, though he has many other fine qualities as well... but don't get me started... -starts to stare off into the distance- ... ahem! Sorry! Back to the review!

Janet is a woman known by many names, and working undercover for the King (Robert the Bruce) to deliver important information about English Troops and where they'll attack next. She is a nun, an apprentice, a daughter and a twin. Ewan is part of The Bruce's Highland Guard, or "Phantoms" as the people call them. Amazing warriors, able to take on entire squadrons all on their own. Ewan's war name is "Hunter" -- the best tracker in the land. And when Janet goes missing, Hunter is sent to find her. And find her he does...

This book had moments that were thrilling and moments where I found myself skimming paragraphs that I didn't think were necessary or just dragged on. This is the first book by Monica McCarty that I've read, so I don't know if it's a common trait to have run-on sentences or if it's singular to this one book. The quote above is a perfect example. While some of them work for the book, others just get a little silly and your brain is fighting to catch up to what the sentence even began with. There is a four-page kiss in this book -- no lie. Four. Pages.

Over-all, it's a good book, but the parts that I skimmed due to the story running stagnant were detractors. And it happened in all parts of the story -- sex scenes, history, battles and general story line. So a 3.5 out of 5 from me.

However, I did anticipate one special moment and when it happened, I did, in fact, giggle.

"Damn it, Janet!" (-insert singing- "I LOVE YOU!")

If you're awesome, you'll get the reference. (Reviewed by Ginny)

Good Quote:
"And moments later when she looked into his eyes, as he stroked her to the very peak of passion, when her breath caught, her body clenched, and warmth spread over every inch of her, shattering into a blinding light, Janet knew something else: she was glad she wasn't a nun."
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great historical romance 19 août 2013
Par DLI - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I received this book as an advanced copy from Library Thing. I am usually dead set against reading a series out of order but as this is Book 7 I did not want to wait to read the others first before reading this and writing my review. And although there are some obvious references to other characters and previous story lines, this book can easily stand on its own.

I enjoy historical romance and this book did not disappoint. Set in the early 1300s, Ewan "The Hunter" Lamont is a typical alpha male highland warrior with a wounded past. Named "The Hunter" because of his exceptional tracking skills, he is tasked with finding a missing courier. He has met this courier before a Sister Genna and felt guilty about his strong feelings for the beautiful woman of the cloth. But Sister Genna is really Janet of Mar whose sister was previously married to the king. She is a strong willed and brave woman doing her part to help her king. I liked the fact that she was no damsel in distress but instead an equal match for Ewan. They of course have to fight their attraction to each other, especially as Ewan has been told by the king that he is to find Janet and bring her back to be married to another.

There is plenty of action to keep the reader intrigued and a HEA ending as to be expected.

I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series.
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