So I got Denny off to his new job today ( which will be yesterday when this posts tomorrow), got home in time to make the school improvement committee, then popped in at home to grab the boys to go try to sell popcorn for the scouts, go home eat two peanut butter cups for dinner chased with a banana and ice cream for desert. Now here I am working on the blog while sipping some sleepy time iced tea, hoping to get some answers from a few authors to come visit for some Author Spotlights.
The Chief is the first book in Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series…..ah I know…but you all know how I love my kilted men.
Damn, I love her covers. My hats off to the art department and not just for the men, the kilts and the swords…gotta love the swords ladies… right SE over at Tartan Ink! There is a uniformity about the books that catches the eye and is very pleasing, they look very nice next to each other on the shelves as I’ll show you later. Each cover is in a different color but the background pictures shows us something related to the hero and I love the ones with the armbands. When you get to the end and see the covers for the entire series you’ll know what I mean.
The Highland Guard is a secret army of 10 select warriors, the best of the best. They are brought together by Robert Bruce to help him free Scotland from England and King Edwards tyranny and secure his crown as King of Scotland. Tor MacLeod is known as the best swordsman in the Highlands or anywhere else for that matter, a commander of men. That trait is how he is given his war name The Chief. A fierce Highland Warlord and Laird willing to do anything and everything to prosper and protect his clan from King Edward’s war on Scotland. He is determined to keep his clan out of King Edward’s notice and not becoming involved in the Bruce’s bid for the crown and Scotland’s freedom. While he is seeking the chance to keep his clan from warring with a neighboring clan over his brother’s theft of a bride, he is tricked and later extorted into marrying the lovely Christina Fraser. Tor agrees to secretly train the Bruce’s Guard but refuses to lead them once their training is complete, he is a hard man because he’s had to be. He watched his family slaughtered as a young boy and has had to protect and lead his clan since then. Tor has trained hard to be the best, he’s hardened not only his body but his heart so as never to be hurt again.
Christine Fraser is a pawn to her father who hasn’t been the same since he returned from imprisonment at King Edward’s hands. Her father tricks her into helping trying to trick and force the MacLeod Laird into an alliance through marriage. Christina has no plan to wed the warrior but tries to use the event as a way for her and her sister to escape to sanctuary in a nunnery. Unfortunately Christina does end up a bride believing Tor married her to protect her honor. She is heartbroken when she finds out he married her to save his clan from war, not to save her honor. She is not happy that the only tenderness and consideration Tor shows her is in the dark of the night before he returns to sleep with his men in the hall. The fact that Tor disappears for days at a time and doesn’t trust her at all is made worse when she notices that his previous leman also disappears at the same time and is often seen speaking privately with him.
Don’t you love it when the hero is bound and determined not to bend and give in to his feelings? Sometimes I want to shake the book ans tell the hero to take his head out of his arse and open his eyes before it’s too late. The pull to and fro gives him that angst that I just love as I am pulled along too. Watching Tor change and finally see what is right in front of him makes it all worthwhile. Of course, like I said there were a few times he needed to be beat over the head with a rolling-pin.
We are introduced to the rest of Bruce’s Highland Guard in this first book and the foundation is laid quite well for a wonderful series. I enjoy reading the author’s notes at the end. Monica did a lot of research, it must be because I love history that, that interests me so. And again cudo’s to the art department for the wonderful covers.
An elite fighting force like the world has never seen…
Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. To lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.
The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one—especially not his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his agreement to command the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to his bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.
Although her husband’s reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in the glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina’s reckless bid to win her husband’s love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war against England, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and open his heart—before it’s too late.
From Chapter Two: Christina and her sister Beatrix stumble into the middle of a fight between Tor (the golden-haired warrior) and his nemesis Lachlan MacRuairi (the dark-haired warrior).
As they drew closer the charge in the air intensified. With each step, her heartbeat raced faster. Her sister felt it, too. The quickening of Beatrix’s breath matched her own.
Out of the corner of her eye she could see the men not ten paces from her. She fought the urge to shudder, realizing how much larger and more daunting they were up close.
We have to get out of here.
The causeway wasn’t far now. Twenty paces or so and they’d be safe.
All of a sudden, she heard a man let out a vile oath, followed by the blood-curdling crash of steel on steel. Before she could react, the crowd had tightened around them, cutting off their path.
They were trapped.
At first Christina feared that they would be caught up in the melee, but then she realized only two men were fighting—the same two warriors she’d noticed before.
A swordfight in the middle of the courtyard? Goodness, did these Barbarians fight everywhere?
She and Beatrix watched in horror as they attacked one another with a viciousness that could only mean one thing—a fight to the death. It was horrible. Violent. Their wild, brutal fighting style nothing like the “civilized” practicing she was used to on the lists or the tournaments she’d seen as a child.
Neither man wore mail, only the leine and padded leather cotun studded with metal—seemingly woefully inadequate protection against the penetrating steel blades of their swords. They both wore soft leather boots to just below the knees, leaving a gap of bare leg to the lower thigh.
The golden-haired warrior had his back to her, but she could see the muscles in his back flare as he swung the enormous two-handed longsword in a high arch over his head and brought it down with crushing force. The sword seemed a part of him—as if he’d been born with it in his hand.
The dark-haired warrior blocked it with one of his two short arming swords, resulting in a piercing clatter that shattered the peace of the day, making her ears ring and teeth rattle. He allowed his blade to drop to the ground, pinned beneath the other, but then he spun and whirled the other over his head to return the strike.
The warriors exchanged blow after deadly blow, neither showing signs of tiring, wielding their enormous blades as effortlessly as if they were made of wood and not steel. The ground reverberated with each terrifying stroke.
She should look away. She should attempt to escape. But Christina was as mesmerized as she was horrified by the brutal savageness of the spectacle before her.
Was this what the Romans had felt watching the Gladiators?
If they weren’t so obviously trying to kill each other, there would almost be something beautiful to their movements. Despite their powerful builds, they moved with leonine grace. In the back of her mind it occurred to her that if they weren’t so fearsome looking the men might be considered handsome. Nor could she ignore that there was something blatantly male and attractive about such brute strength. But the thought was fleeting and quickly forgotten in the heat and clamor of the battle. The clang of steel mixed with the grunts of the combatants and the ebbing and flowing murmurs of the crowd.
At first she thought they were well matched, but as the fight drew on she recognized the superior skill of the golden-haired man. His blade fell harder; his reactions were quicker and his movements more precise. He controlled every aspect of the battle.
Her gaze was drawn to him.
When it became clear that she and Beatrix were not in danger, she grew more bold in her observation, noticing the hard lines of his jaw, the wide mouth, and forbidding brow. The noble bearing that permeated the air around him. As the fight had started without warning, he wore no helm or bascinet to protect his head. His hair was actually more brown than blond as she’d first thought, but the sunlight picked up all the golden strands, making it appear much lighter.
She was fascinated by the way his muscles bunched and flexed with each blow of the sword. Looking at him, the idea of Lancelot bending steel bars didn’t seem so far-fetched. Such power would normally terrify her, but detached like this she felt a strange heat shimmering through her.
But she hardly had time to process the strange reaction before the battle shifted and took on a far more ominous tone.
Ok, I’m going to stop there…..now you have to go get the book if you don’t have it already to continue the battle.
I give The Chief 4.75 tail Swishes.
Here is a look at the rest of the series which you’ll be seeing soon. Click on the cover to go to the book page for more tidbits.
And coming out soon is book 6 The Recruit
Here’s how the covers look in my book-case.
I like how the titles are in the same place on all the books, the small picture and the author’s name all in the same place, makes them look so nice on the shelf, eye-catching to the reader, at least to this one.
So if you’d like to go check Monica out here are her links, enjoy everyone.