I started reading this trilogy because I have read all of the books in Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series so far and am addicted to them so I thought I would read some more of her books.
From reading Monica’s other books, I’ve learned that the Campbell’s are a big name in Scotland and probably acquired most of their lands and their power in the time of Robert Bruce. Because they fought alongside him, he gave them lands and power. A lot of the land that Bruce gave them were lands of other clans who chose the wrong side.
Scotland’s history is so confusing to me and I don’t know much about it except that it seems to have gone from English rule to Scottish rule back to English rule….not really English rule but the two royal families did mix at one time. I know that Scotland had a lot of feuding and battles between clans throughout the ages. King James tried to stop the feuding by taking power from the clan chiefs but was not totally successful in the Highlands and Isles.
This book was set at the beginning of the 1600’s, 300 years after Robert Bruce’s reign. It didn’t elaborate in the book but I looked it up. King James VI of Scotland had just made a decree to wipe all of clan MacGregor out of Scotland. The clan had done something to offend him so he made them outlaws. To not become an outlaw, the clan members had to change their surnames. The members who refused became outlaws and hunted by the law.
Jamie Campbell believes that Scotland needs law and order and it is his job to see that outlaws are brought to justice. His cousin, the Earl of Argyll (Lord Justice General), has put him in charge of finding Alisdair MacGregor, the outlaw chief of Clan MacGregor. He believes that Macgregor and his men may be hiding in the hills of the Lamont chief. To harbor a MacGregor is a crime punishable by death but if the MacGregors invoked the ancient sacred obligation of hospitality, the chief of Lamont is honor bound to give them shelter.
Under the ruse of seeking the hand of the Lamont Chief’s daughter in marriage, Jamie travels to Ascog Castle, the Lamont home where they just happen to be hosting the Highland archery games but Jaime doesn’t count on falling for the lass.
Caitrina Lamont is adored by her father and three brothers and has no intention of marrying anytime soon. She knows that is the reason her father is hosting the games and keeps parading all the eligible men who she calls peacocks in front of her. She is adept at getting rid of her male pursuers and can usually wrap anyone around her finger. Her maidservant, Mor, warns her that one day, she will find a man that won’t be so easily deterred or wrapped around her finger and that she will have to marry at some point but Caitrina is naïve and has a narrow view of life because she has always been sheltered and believes she can live with her father and brothers for many more years. She never wants to leave them.
The Lamonts and the Campbells have a longstanding hatred for each other but almost everyone hates and fears Jamie Campbell who is called the Enforcer or Argyll’s Henchman. He’s known for being ruthless and being unmovable when it comes to enforcing the law. Caitrina is attracted to him but refuses him because he is a Campbell. He leaves her but warns her that she is too sheltered and that one day, her eyes will have to open to what is going on around her.
That days comes for her when Jamie’s brother, an overly ambitious and cruel man, and his men come to arrest her father for suspicion of harboring the MacGregors. Caitrina’s life will never be the same. She believes Jamie is to blame because of her refusal to marry him and because of his warning.
At first, I didn’t like Caitrina because I thought she was spoiled and dumb because she didn’t get into the business of men and had no clue what was happening around her but then after tragedy hit, I admired Caitrina’s strength. She was so heartbroken and sad but she grew up and decided that she never wanted to live in a bubble again.
I enjoyed this book but not quite as much as I enjoyed the Highland Guard series; maybe because it was the first book of the series. I’m going to read the next book to see how it goes.