Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The Recruit

The Recruit (Highland Guard #6)

by Monica McCarty 


Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce is retaking his kingdom from the invading English. To win, he’ll need all the grit and courage of his elite band of warriors, the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.
Fiery, aggressive, and bold, Kenneth Sutherland is a true champion—skilled with any weapon and driven to win. Now Kenneth is ready for his greatest challenge: joining Robert the Bruce’s secret army to fight among the elite. Kenneth’s best chance to attain that honor is by winning the Highland Games. Focused and prepared for victory, he is caught off guard by a lovely wisp of a woman—and a stolen moment of wicked seduction. Her innocent arousal and her shameless hunger fire his blood. He will win his place in the guard—and in Mary of Mar’s bed.
The ruggedly handsome hero-in-the-making stirs a heart that should know better. Mary vows that her surrender will be sport only—no promises, no heartbreak, just one night of incredible passion. Nothing, she swears, will persuade her to give up her hard-wrought independence and put her fate in the hands of another powerful man. But with every gentle touch and heart-pounding kiss, Kenneth makes her want more. Now Mary wants his heart. But is this determined champion willing to surrender everything for love?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kenneth and Mary’s story.   I have enjoyed many of Ms. McCarty other highland series, but the Highland Guard series is by far my favorite to date. The continuing saga of Robert the Bruce and his special band of warriors holds a special place in my scots-Irish heart. Being a history buff I also love all the detail and historically accurate facts that are weaved into the story.  I can’t imagine the amount of research required to get these stories written but I definitely have to say hats off to the author for all her hard work.  It definitely shows.
Kenneth Sutherland was introduced to us in the last book when his foster brother Gordon died under mysterious circumstances.  He comes into the group blaming Magnus MacKay for the death and determined to make him pay.  But he stumbles upon the greatest held secret of the age: the truth of the members of the Guard.  Determined to win his way onto the guard, despite resistance from Magnus, he comes to the highland games to show the world—and the king—his prowess in battle.  But there he comes across a major obstacle in the form of an enchanting and distractingly intriguing lass—Mary.
Mary has come back to her beloved Scotland after being stuck in the English lands of her late husband who was executed after a rebellion against the English crown several years earlier.  Finally having carved out a contented life for herself as a widow, she is approached by the English king’s men to serve as an emissary and spy at the upcoming highland games.   Meeting Kenneth definitely throws her into a tailspin and even though she resists any attempt by the kings to marry her off, she lets herself have one night of passion with Kenneth.  But boy does that night have consequences for everyone.
Kenneth and Mary are separated for several months after their initial association and it is only later when Kenneth is sent by the Guard to England as a spy that they are reunited.  Dealing with all the intrigue surrounding his mission, Kenneth is unable to resist the fiery beauty that Mary has transformed into.  He’s determined even more to make her is own, but knows that when the truth of his mission and allegiances comes out she’s going to feel betrayed.
Mary begins the story as a young widow who’s only ever had uncomfortable and unfulfilling sexual experiences with her late husband, but she soon realizes that making love with Kenneth is nothing like those past encounters.   Mary brings out the softer side of Kenneth and Kenneth brings out the passion and fire that Mary never thought she had.  Though they are both dealing with their own fears, suspicions, and doubts they are able to finally overcome and be the strong lovers they need to be for each other. Kenneth is a very sexual guy, something of a scoundrel you might say, though he’s not cruel about it.  He loves women and women love him and he initially sees no reason to limit himself to a single one.  But like with all good men he just needs a good woman to settle him down.
The political backbiting and scheming that are going on in this story is paramount.  King vs. king, man vs. man, and country vs. country.   Kenneth is playing a dangerous game and Mary is left out of it until the bitter end, when she is put to the ultimate test. Does she trust the man she has come to love to be acting in her and her children’s best interest?  The political climate of the book causes some intense moments of both action and introspection for the characters, but in the end everything works out, as history has dictated.
This book was extremely enjoyable despite wanting to reach into it several times to slap Kenneth in the head.  Mary was one of those characters you start feeling a little ho-hum about but in the end you love her and you know she is perfect for Kenneth.  The love between them is tried again and again and is forged even stronger for all the fire they must walk through. You also get to see some of your favorite members of the guard from previous novels and their wonderful wives.   I am very much looking forward to reading more about king Robert’s trials and battle for kingship and the Highland Guard that are set to make him a part of history.

Rating: 4.75 stars

Rose Rating: 


  1. I really like historical romances but I've never tried this author before. I'm gonna have to give this series a try since you make it sound so wonderful. Do you recommend I start with the beginning or can I just pick up this one?

    1. i definitely think you should start at the beginning of this series otherwise you will be a bit lost of the subtexts and overall story line. but trust me it's worth it to read them all. Or if you wanna try something shorter any of the McCarty Trilogies that are done are great reads as well.