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The Saint: A Highland Guard Novel [Format Kindle]

Monica McCarty

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Dunstaffnage Castle,

December 1308

He could do this, damn it. Magnus could withstand almost any kind of physical torture and pain. A tough bastard, they said of him. He needed to remember it.

He kept his gaze fastened on the trencher before him, concentrating on his meal and not what was going on around him. But the ham and cheese intended to break his fast stuck in his throat. Only the ale went down easily. Still, it wasn’t strong enough to quiet the tumult eating him up inside. If it weren’t an hour after daybreak he would have asked for whisky.

Although given the celebratory mood around him, he doubted anyone would notice if he did. The festive atmosphere reverberated from the wooden rafters laden with fragrant boughs of pine to the stone floor strewn with fresh rushes. The massive Great Hall of Dunstaffnage Castle was lit up like Beltane, with hundreds of candles and a roaring fire blazing in the fireplace behind him. But the warmth of the room couldn’t penetrate the icy shell around him.

“If you keep looking like you want to murder someone, we’ll have to change your name.”

Magnus turned to the man seated at the trestle table beside him and shot him a warning glare. Lachlan MacRuairi had an uncanny ability to find a man’s weak spot. Like the viper his war name professed him to be, he struck with deadly precision. He alone of the other members of the Highland Guard had guessed Magnus’s secret, and he never wasted an opportunity to remind him of it.

“Aye,” MacRuairi said with a shake of his head. “You look decidedly unsaintly. Aren’t you supposed to be the calm and reasonable one?”

During the training for the Highland Guard, Erik MacSorley, the greatest seafarer in the Western Isles, had taken to calling him Saint in jest. Unlike the rest of them, Magnus didn’t spend his nights around the fire discussing the next woman he wanted to swiv. Nor did he lose his temper. When it had come to choosing war names to protect their identities, Saint had stuck.

“Sod off, MacRuairi.”

The impervious bastard just smiled. “We weren’t sure you were going to make it.”

Magnus had stayed away as long as he could, volunteering for any mission as long as it would keep him far from here. But he’d left Edward Bruce, the king’s brother and newly created Lord of Galloway, two days ago to join the other members of the Highland Guard at Dunstaffnage for the wedding of one of their own. The wedding of William Gordon, his best friend and partner, to Helen Sutherland.

My Helen.

Nay, not his. She’d never belonged to him. He’d only thought she had.

Three years ago he’d joined Bruce’s secret guard in the attempt to escape his memories. But fate had a cruel sense of irony. Not long after arriving, he’d learned that his new partner had been recently betrothed to Helen. The Sutherlands hadn’t lost any time in ensuring she didn’t change her mind about marrying him. Magnus had anticipated a quick betrothal; he just hadn’t anticipated it would hit so close.

For three years he’d known this day would come. He’d come to terms with it. But if it were anyone other than Gordon, Magnus would have found an excuse to stay away. Despite his appellation, self-­flagellation was not something he succumbed to willingly.

“Where’s Lady Isabella?” he asked by way of a response.

MacRuairi’s mouth curved. It was still strange to see such a black-­hearted bastard smile, but these past few weeks since MacRuairi had won Lady Isabella MacDuff’s freedom a second time—­as well as, it seemed, her heart—­the sight had become more frequent. If a bastard like MacRuairi could find love, he supposed there was hope for anyone.

Except for him.

“Helping the bride get ready,” MacRuairi replied. “She’ll be here soon enough.”

Bride. That pricked. Even knowing that MacRuairi was watching, he flinched.

The smile left MacRuairi’s face. “You should have told him. He deserves to know.”

Magnus shot an angry glare back at the man who made it hard as hell to like him—­though somehow Magnus did. “Back off, Viper,” he said in a low voice. Gordon didn’t need to know anything. Helen had made her choice well before their betrothal. “There is nothing to tell.”

He pushed back from the bench, not wanting to listen to any more of MacRuairi’s prodding, when he noticed a group of men entering the Hall.

Ah hell. He muttered a curse, seeing the impending disaster and knowing there wasn’t a damned thing he could do to stave it off.

His partner in the Highland Guard and closest friend, William Gordon, broke into a wide smile and headed straight for him. “You made it. I was beginning to wonder.”

Magnus didn’t have a chance to respond. The other man he’d noticed—­the one who’d provoked his reaction—­prevented it.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Kenneth Sutherland demanded angrily.

Magnus held very still, but every battle instinct flared. Sutherland’s hand had gone to the arming sword at his waist. The moment he moved, Magnus would be ready. MacRuairi, too, having sensed the threat, had tensed with readiness at his side.

“He’s my guest, as well as my friend,” Gordon said to his foster brother and soon-­to-­be brother-­in-­law—­what the hell Gordon saw in the bastard, Magnus couldn’t fathom. It wasn’t often that the good-­humored Gordon sounded angry, but there was a distinct edge of steel in his voice now.

“Your friend?” Kenneth said, aghast. “But he—­”

Realizing he was about to say something about Helen, Magnus got to his feet and slammed his flagon on the table. “Leave it. What is between us has no bearing on today.” He eyed his old enemy intently, and then forced himself to relax. “The feud is in the past. Just like imprudent alliances,” he added, unable to resist prodding him.

The Sutherlands had aligned with the Earl of Ross and England against Robert Bruce. But after Bruce’s victory over the MacDougalls at the Pass of Brander in August, the Earl of Ross had been forced to submit. The Sutherlands had reluctantly followed suit a month ago. Magnus knew Sutherland’s pride must have still been smarting.

From what Gordon told him, Sutherland had acquitted himself well in battle and was considered a formidable warrior—­equal to if not surpassing Donald Munro and his elder brother, William, who’d become earl on his father’s death two years ago. But to Magnus’s mind, Sutherland had one fatal flaw: his temper. And if the angry flush on Sutherland’s face was any indication, it hadn’t lost any of its volatility.

“Bastard,” Sutherland growled, taking a step forward. But Gordon held him back.

The air, which only moments before had been light with celebration, was now charged with strife. Swords had been drawn, if not in fact then in spirit. In response to the threat, two sides had formed. Sutherland’s men had gathered behind him and the members of the Highland Guard who’d been nearby had come to stand beside MacKay, with Gordon caught in the middle.

“Let him come, Gordon,” Magnus said idly. “Mayhap the English have taught him something.”

He and Sutherland were of a similar height and build, but Magnus had no doubt he could still best him in a sword fight—­or with any weapon, for that matter. It seemed that most of his youth had been spent with the purpose of besting Sutherlands. If it wasn’t Munro, it was one of Helen’s brothers.

Sutherland bit out a crude oath and tried to break free from Gordon’s hold. He might have succeeded if a new group hadn’t entered the Hall. A group not armed in leather and steel but in silk and satin.

Focused on the threat before him, Magnus hadn’t seen the women approach until one woman stepped forward. “Kenneth, what’s wrong? What’s happening here?”

Magnus froze at the sound of her voice. The muscle slid from his limbs. For a moment he felt boneless, empty but for the fire burning in his chest. The fire that it seemed would never die.

Helen stood before him. Every bit as breathtaking as he remembered—­yet different. There was nothing unconventional about her beauty now. The freckles that had once been smattered across her nose had vanished in the creamy perfection of ivory skin. The rich auburn hair that had tumbled about her shoulders in wild disarray—­when it hadn’t been chopped indiscriminately—­had been tamed into a maidenly coronet of braids. The tiny, pixie features were no longer quirked with laughter and mischief but were soft in repose. Only her eyes—­a clear crystal blue—­and lips—­the reddest he’d ever seen—­were the same.

But it wasn’t her beauty that had drawn him to her, it was the irrepressible good humor and untamed spirit that made her different from any other woman he’d ever known. A lively sprite who was as hard to catch as quicksilver.

He saw no evidence of that girl in the woman standing before him now, but it didn’t change the fierceness of his response. His chest felt as if it had been put in a vise of longing.

He’d thought he was prepared, damn it. Thought he could do this. But nothing could have prepared him for the shock of seeing her after three long years. Three years of war and destruction. Three years when he didn’t know whether he’d live or die. Three years of telling himself he was over her.

Three years of delusion.

Realizing that Gordon was looking at him with a frown, he quickly got himself under control, schooling his features in a blank mask. But calm deserted him.

It was then that she noticed him. He heard her gasp a dozen feet away. Her eyes widened and her face lost every bit of color. Her expression reminded him of the men he’d seen in battle after they’d taken an arrow to the gut: startled, shocked, and pained.

Instinctively, he made a move toward her, but MacRuairi held him back. Gordon was already at her side.

Gordon his friend.

Gordon her betrothed.

Gordon the man who would be her husband in a few short hours.

His stomach knifed.

“It is nothing, my lady,” Gordon said, taking her arm. “A minor misunderstanding. I believe you’ve met my friend Magnus MacKay?”

His words had shocked Helen out of her trance. “Aye, my lord.” Because she couldn’t avoid it, she turned to him. But he hadn’t missed the slight stiffening of her shoulders, as if bracing herself. For one long heartbeat their eyes met. The lance of pain through his chest stole his breath. She nodded her head in acknowledgment. “My lord.”

“My lady.” He bowed politely. Formally. Marking the distance that must now be between them. This wasn’t the Helen of his youth, but a woman who belonged to another.

Lady Isabella saved the moment from further awk- wardness. She was in the group of women who’d entered the Hall with Helen and rushed forward to greet him. “Magnus, you’re back!” Grabbing hold of his elbow, she turned him back to the table. “You must tell me all that is happening in the south.” She pursed her mouth in Lachlan’s direction and gave an indignant toss of her chin. “He tells me nothing.”

MacRuairi lifted a wry brow. “That’s because I don’t want you grabbing a sword to join them.”

She reached over to give the infamous mercenary a gentle pat on the arm as if soothing a naughty child. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t have a sword.” She winked up at Magnus and whispered. “I have a bow.”

“I heard that,” MacRuairi snapped.

Magnus smiled, grateful for the distraction. But it was only temporary. He was acutely aware of the two people walking arm-­in-­arm down the long aisle to the dais.

Présentation de l'éditeur

Robert the Bruce consolidates lands and loyalty in a bold war for Scotland’s independence, as his elite team of warriors, the Highland Guard, fight for king, country . . . and love.
Magnus MacKay is the ultimate Highlander: tough, proud, able to master any terrain and to best his enemies. Called “the Saint” for his refusal to discuss women, as well as for his cool and steady leadership, Magnus hides a painful truth. It isn’t virtue or piety that keeps him silent, but a wound of love and loss that cuts so deep he cannot bear to speak of it. But when the woman who refused him is betrothed to his friend and fellow Guardsman, Magnus is tested by love’s battle cry.
A wild and innocent beauty, Helen chose family duty over her desire for Magnus. Now the anger in his eyes mirrors the tormented regret in her heart. But as deadly subterfuge stalks the King and his Guard, Helen vows to right her youthful mistakes with a woman’s determined spirit. Still, Magnus harbors secrets and an iron will not to weaken to temptation—or heartache—again. But as danger looms, it’s the kiss not of a saint, but of a sinner, that can save them.

From the Paperback edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1359 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 450 pages
  • Editeur : Ballantine Books (27 mars 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005BUG6R0
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°113.578 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  94 commentaires
22 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beautiful and emotional another hit for me 28 mars 2012
Par Ing @ As the Pages Turn - Publié sur Amazon.com
As a fan of the Highland Guard series and Monica McCarty's entire books, I am always excited about any upcoming releases. With the release of The Saint, the 5th book in this series, I was excited but wasn't salivating for it as much as I was for The Viper. I didn't have any high expectations or over-hype about the storyline building in my head. All I knew was I would enjoy it because the fact is, Monica has become an author I trust. I'd follow her wherever she would like to take me as a reader. I want to go on record as stating that I freaking love, love, love the snot out of this book. This was hands down my favorite book of this series and probably my top two books of all of Monica's books. It's always the quiet and unassuming ones that surprise you and this is the perfect descriptive for this book and the hero.

Magnus the hero has always been the steady and quiet one. He didn't sit around the campfire boasting or talking about the next bed partner conquest hence his nickname the "Saint". He is always in control, was the impression I got in the previous books, so to see him so unglued when it came to Helen was funny and sweet. Monica really puts his character through the ringer. I could never imagine having to make the choices and do the things Magnus had to do in this book. My heart broke for him as I watched him battle his feelings for Helen because he wasn't able to forgive himself for the decisions he had to make. Magnus's character is very endearing. I fell deeply in love with him right along with Helen. Monica gave the readers another hero to fall in love with. With each book I find that I can't help falling for each of these guards. Magnus is steady, caring, loyal and tough but there is this side to him when he lets his guard down around Helen that had me captivated. And oh my goodness he is sexy. Ladies when he lets his control go hold on to your panties. I wanted to groan and nod my head right along with Helen during the seduction scenes!

Helen is my favorite heroine of all of Monica's books. Her character is so relatable and lovable. She realizes that she made a mistake when she walked away from Magnus so when she gets her second chance boy she goes for it. Her fears of rejection never stopped her from putting her heart out there for Magnus. She sets to prove to him that their second chance at happiness is possible and does all in her power to convince him he could trust her with his heart. Helen is one of the most kickass heroines of Monica's heroines. She can think fast on her feet and is resourceful. Helen has been studying healing from the healer in her clan so this skill was useful in many of the situations she found herself in. As tough as she was, she had a vulnerable side that captures your heart. Because of her interest in healing and her tendency to speak what is on her mind she finds that she doesn't fit in well with other ladies. Helen is someone I would love to hang with. She is caring, loyal, smart and a beautiful spirit.

The romance between these two was so sweet. I love how the story unfolded during a course of over a year. I was deeply invested and was rooting them along the way as they both stumbled and then finally found their way to each other again. I loved the glimpses of their childhood romance. They didn't see each other much but when they did you could feel how much they truly cared for each other. How special their connection was. The chemistry was off the charts. Boy did the scenes where they give in to each other rock my world with so much emotion and steam. You can literally feel how much these two love and want each other. The connection is poignant and sweet. The road to their happiness is filled with many funny moments as well as tragedies. When I closed the book on their story I felt such happiness as if I was the one who got a happy ending. What a fantastic couple Monica gave the readers in this book. I didn't want their story to end. I wanted to know more and see more.

Monica also gave us a secondary romance that I really enjoyed as well. The romance is between Muriel the healer of the Sutherland clan and William Helen's eldest brother. Readers get enough background stories on these two that you'll be invested. We also meet Kenneth the second eldest brother of Helen. I can't wait to see what Monica has in store for him. The Saint also gives readers a glimpse at the lives of the other couples and we catch up on what's been happening to them. I was excited that the previous heroines made an appearance. It was nice to see them all together and learn how they have bonded and become so close. The Saint continues to entertain with the action packed storyline full of battles and intrigue. The fight continues onto the next phase in the battle for Scotland's freedom and takes a tragic turn for the guards. The guards will come face to face with enemies that will have too many similarities to their fighting tactics.

The Saint has some plots in it that definitely is a game changer in the series. The twists and turns that have been subtly alluded to will come to fruition in this book. I was on a roller-coaster ride of emotions reading The Saint. I cried...oh how I cried, then I laughed and then I sighed. I have to say this is the first book by Monica that has made me cry. This book had me captivated from prologue all the way through the excerpt of the next book. I was flipping pages so fast and speed reading like a demon that once I closed the book I had to go back and re-read it again the next day.

Monica's highlander stories are like crack for me! When I am in the mood for stories about those hot blooded and virile men of Scotland, I know I can count on her books to fulfill that need. I am still amazed at how effortlessly and seamlessly Monica incorporates real live historical events and creates these fictional romantic story lines. Her books each and every one of them has a place on my keeper shelf. This book will go right up there along with the rest. I HIGHLY recommend this book and series to historical romance fans that love these sexy highlander stories. You can't go wrong when you pick up her books.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Hello Angst! 5 avril 2012
Par Danielle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Monica McCarty is one of those authors who has a certain talent for taking the reader back in time. When reading her Highland Guard Novels always I feel as if I am right there with the characters. Be it on a battlefield, walking the lush green grounds of a Highland castle, or just traveling down a dirt road wondering what will happen next. No matter what, she reels you in. There is just something magical about her books, and as a devoted reader I feel the need to express my disappointment in this newest book in the Highland Guard series.

The Saint, aka Magnus MacKay, is anything but a Saint. I went into this book expecting another fun, adventurous, sexy romance. What I have gotten my little hands on, however, is an angst-filled book that has me mad enough to start my own war! Magnus, in my humble opinion, is an arse of epic proportions! I truly didn't expect him to be such a childish, hateful man. I spent half the book feeling as if I were reading some teenage drama unfold. I may have rolled my eyes a few times to boot.

The female lead, Helen, spends the entire book chasing/pining after Magnus. Even after he has told her to her face (many times) he doesn't want her, (this was done mostly out of his pride & guilt - not actual truth) she still follows him around like a lost puppy who seems to enjoy being kicked repeatedly. Again, I find myself with another book that claims romance yet there is not much to work with! At least, not until almost the very end. Basically, after reading The Saint, I was left feeling confused as to what happened from the last book to this newest one. Has McCarty gone emo on us?! A little angst is always expected in a romance novel. We all know it can't be rainbows and unicorns all the time, but my goodness! There was nothing but angst here. In my opinion, you will need the patience of a saint to get through this book. Good Luck Lads & Lassies!
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 3.5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies 31 mars 2012
Par Lily - Publié sur Amazon.com
Though Robert the Bruce has been crowned King of Scotland, his reign is by no means secure. In fact, the king needs his Highland Guard - an elite, shadowy force of warriors - now more than ever.

Magnus Mackay is as fierce a warrior as any of his Highland Guard brethren. But Magnus - known as "Saint" for his calm demeanor and lack of interest in women - hides a painful secret. He's long been in love with Helen de Moray, the daughter of his clan's enemy and the woman who broke his heart when she refused to abandon her family and run away with him. Years have passed since Magnus has seen Helen but when they do meet again, it's on her wedding day. Helen is betrothed to Magnus's partner and best friend and for that reason, if no other, she can never be his.

Helen is determined to win back the heart of the man she so foolishly turned away when she was young and scared. But tragedy threatens to cause a divide between them that not even their love can overcome. Will Helen be able to break through the walls the Saint has built around his heart to reconnect with the man beneath the warrior's honor?

Nobody does star-crossed lovers like Monica McCarty! THE SAINT is filled with heartbreak, betrayal and hope. Love is lost, found and forced to go through the proverbial fires of hell to come out stronger than ever. Ms. McCarty had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning of THE SAINT, taking the story through twists and turns I could not always expect; something I love in a book.

Magnus and Helen are two people who are very clearly meant to be together, but the depth of the hatred between their two families is not something either can ignore. As youths, Magnus and Helen were idealistic, and I loved that Ms. McCarty showed that side of them - the happy young lovers who were not prepared to face the obstacles in their path. Though Magnus and Helen have matured in some ways when they meet again, there are a whole new set of problems facing them. You have to respect Magnus's sense of honor, but it's that same code of honor that threatens to derail any headway Helen makes with him. There was almost too much heartbreak in THE SAINT, but Ms. McCarty kept the book afloat with a subplot involving Helen's eldest brother and the overarching plot of the series about Robert the Bruce's quest to unify Scotland under his rule.

One of the things I love about Ms. McCarty's books is how she seamlessly blends history and fiction. I feel like I'm in this high-stakes war for Scotland's freedom as the Highland Guard fights for the security of Robert the Bruce's throne. In fact, my favorite moments of THE SAINT might actually be the attempts on the Bruce's life. Both Helen and Magnus are at their best when they're saving the king.

THE SAINT is the fifth book in Ms. McCarty's HIGHLAND GUARD series, but Ms. McCarty provides enough information that the book can be read as a standalone. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be delighted to revisit some of their favorite Highland Guard warriors and their wives, however, and there are always more warriors yet to get their happily-ever-afters to pique the interest. I finished THE SAINT a well-satisfied reader and I'm looking forward to Ms. McCarty's next HIGHLAND GUARD book.

Review courtesy of Romance Junkies
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 a wee bit to much angst/but, a great read as always 28 mars 2012
Par D. Hurst - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
I won't go into to much of the book since those first two reviewers did a wonderful job explaining the story line. I think all of Monica's books are well written and brings out the Characters well. However, in this book, to me, it was a case of a wee bit to much with the angst. The hero is very well written but, after awhile I thought maybe he was missing a few screws since he couldn't see what was standing right before him, love. I get that his friend and he were close and that it was hard on him but, he also (in the previous book), knew that his friend Gordon really wasn't all that keen on marrying Helen nor did he know her that well. I also understand the reason for the 1 1/2 year separation (when Helen goes home), since she was married and there needed to be a time for morning properly. The bedding with Helen and Gordon, or lets say the non bedding, didn't quite fit the story since it didn't solve much for Mangus in the end. So it didn't seem to matter, really.
I loved William and Mureil's story and would have loved to see it more developed in the book, even though they were secondary characters.
I still highly recommend this book and really all of Monica's books. I am surprised that the next book, if I read it correctly, will be about Helen's brother, and not about some of the other Highland Guards that have been around longer. But, still......Bring on the Recruit!
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Another terrific addition to the Highland Guard series! 31 mars 2012
Par K. Davis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I've read all four, and now five, books in this series. Monica McCarty is a talented writer. She does a tremendous job of weaving action, adventure and passion into these books. The pacing is excellent. A solid balance of narration and dialogue make the story flow smoothly. I finished this in three sittings and it would have been less if I'd had time to just sit and read all day. And Monica McCarty's books definitely make you wish you had all the time in the world to just sit on the beach, under an umbrella, and read the day away.

The comradery of the guard is one the best elements of this series. The members together are clearly talented and exceptional fighters and they are serious about what they do, but they are also hilarious together. The element of humor from the jabs that make at one another is a nice element of this series, because it lets you see these characters in a different light and gives a nice break from the main focus of the romance. I promise she doesn't stray too long from that focus, but the subplots of the battles and missions are a well-written and developed element of McCarty's work.

Speaking of subplots, a new development in McCarty's writing is the addition of a subplot that focused on another romance. This romance doesn't involve a guard member, so you wouldn't expect to be invested, but in fact, you are. McCarty does a nice job developing these characters, in the limited amount of space she has to work with for a subplot, so you actually do care about these people and get caught up in their story as well. It was a nice, unexpected element.

Now to the main man: Magnus MacKay, the Highland Guard member featured in this book, is unique and endearing because of his self-restraint and ability to control himself, in all situations. So to see him break is dramatic and exciting. It is also important to note that even with five male protagonists in this series, all of them have distinct and unique qualities that don't overlap. It's impressive that she's been able to create such dynamic leading men. If you read a description for each of them, you'd be able to pin point exactly who the character is without knowing his name. They all contain qualities women want in men (courageous, protective, confident (but not cocky), sincere, honest, determined, dedicated, reliable, physically capable of keeping them safe, intelligent, patient, easy on the eye...the list could go on) but they also aren't flawless, which makes them more realistic. But, of course, and perhaps most importantly, they are highlanders at heart, so all guard members share a common thread (even the English Knight, though I'm sure he would never openly agree).

Another note: You can read these books out of order, but it is nice to read them chronologically. Each book provides a recap of what is happening, so a new reader to the series won't be lost. That being said, McCarty does plant seeds in each book that are applicable to future novels.

This isn't a super comprehensive review (I know), but I did want to say that I enjoyed this book, as I've enjoyed each book by McCarty, and I would recommend The Saint and all novels in this series to any fans of the historical highland romance genre.
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