Review: The Arrow (Highland Guard #9) by Monica McCarty

August 26, 2014 Review 0

Review: The Arrow (Highland Guard #9) by Monica McCarty

As King Robert the Bruce of Scotland plots to retake his English occupied castles, he needs the stealth and skill of his elite soldiers, the Highland Guard. Fearless and indomitable, no men are more loyal to their king, or cherished by the women they love.
The talents of legendary marksman Gregor “Arrow” MacGregor are crucial now, as Bruce moves to reclaim his Scottish holdings. Gregor is considered the most handsome man in Scotland, and his fame as an archer is rivaled only by his reputation with the lasses as a heartbreaker. But when his infamous face is exposed during a covert mission, Gregor is forced to lay low. He returns home only to find a new battle waiting: a daring game of seduction involving his now very grown up and very desirable ward, Cate of Lochmaben.
A born fighter, Cate was clinging to life when Gregor rescued her after a vicious English raid on her village left her mother dead. But five years later, the once scrappy orphan Gregor took under his protection has become a woman. Brave, strong, and skilled in warfare, Cate is determined to lay claim to the warrior who refuses to be trapped. The heat in his eyes tells her she has his attention . . . and his desire. But will Gregor allow his heart to surrender before danger finds them, and the truth of Cate’s identity is revealed?

Title: The Arrow
Author: Monica McCarty
Published by Ballantine
Source: Publisher
Published: 26 August, 2014
Genres: Historical Romace
Pages: 416
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Amazon
Visit the Author's Website

Stars: three-half-stars
Flames: three-flames

This historical medieval romance is the ninth in the Highland Guard series by Monica McCarty. It works very well as a standalone novel, as I hadn’t read any of her previous novels and followed along very well.

The first third of the book was steeped in very rich historical details. Many times, I felt as though I was reading an historical novel instead of an historical romance; in fact, I looked up the novel on a few sites just to verify that it was a romance. The details are interesting and definitely well-researched, but I felt they didn’t add very much to the storyline overall. Most of it could’ve been cut from the story, and the romance would’ve held together fine. I do admit to skipping over large passages of text to try to locate when the romance element would begin. The quality of the writing had me sticking with the story, and I’m glad I did.

Gregor MacGregor is the best archer in Robert the Bruce’s army, which is why he’s part of the elite guard known as the Highland Guard. These men are very skilled fighters, but Gregor is beginning to lose his edge. He’s unfocused and not as deadly as he once was – and after his latest blunder. Bruce suggests he return home for some much needed R&R.

At home, Cate, Gregor’s ward, has grown up from a scared child he rescued to a beautiful young woman. She’s determined to have Gregor as her husband, but first, she has to get him to notice her as something other than a child. Her antics are humorous and it was fun to watch her test – and ultimately break – Gregor’s self-control. Cate’s independence and training were very much part of her character; she can fight exceptionally well and beats many men at what we would term street fighting.

The miscommunication between Gregor and Cate – Cate’s biggest obstacle – was exceptionally well-written. (No spoilers here.) Cate is caught in a bad situation and Gregor sees her at her worst, making him question all sorts of things about her. His rationale for each of his assumptions is so sympathetic, I found myself nodding my head and thinking, “Yes! I would think the same thing!” I wondered how Cate would pull herself out of the mess she created, and McCarty managed to do so realistically, and with such great dialogue, I was a very satisfied reader. However….

Gregor’s biggest obstacle was a shock to me, and not in a good way. This was the worst part about this story…McCarty pulled a pretty serious faux pas here. There was infidelity on Gregor’s part, and it was really, truly terrible. I almost put the book down; I hate infidelity and find it to be a fully repugnant quality in a hero. There’s just no getting past it for me, and that did alter my experience from fairly satisfied to, “Eh. It was okay.” I strongly wished McCarty would’ve employed any other device to give these two any other obstacle; I wanted so much more for these two! Cate forgave him, and that was the most upsetting part for me. I was invested until that point, but it just made me sick and I found Gregor to be weak-willed from that point onwards.

While I really enjoyed the romance (until the infidelity), sometimes the story became bogged down by the many historical details McCarty wove into this fictional piece. However, it was enjoyable until the ending, so I give it three and a half stars.


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