Blue Ribbon Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Original Review Link
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.
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.