The Guardian – Return of the Highlanders #1 – Margaret Mallory

Here is an author who can toy with the emotions of her readers which is a very good thing in my opinion. I felt so bad for the heroine in this story because the hero was such a jerk to her for so long.

Sileas escapes her house at age 13 after her horrible step-father tries to marry her off to his son from another marriage just to gain control of her castle and lands because she is the rightful heir. She runs into her friend, Ian MacDonald who she has adored since she was a wee lass. He allows her to travel with him towards his home and even shares his plaid with her to keep warm when they camp but in the morning, his uncle rides into camp and thinks Ian has defiled Sileas and forces them to marry.

Ian is livid and despite knowing Sileas was in a bad situation and a good kid, believes she has trapped him into marriage. He thinks Sileas is too homely and skinny with wild red hair so he will never be attracted to her. He does not consummate the marriage and runs off with his friends to France to fight. He is gone for five years and never writes or asks about how Sileas is doing.

Five years later, he and his friends are back from France to discover their clan is in trouble. Their chief is dead, killed at the Battle of Flodden, and his brother has taken over but does not care for the welfare of the clan. He only cares about power and his own comfort. Ian’s father lost a leg at Flodden and has taken to his bed, depressed so now Ian has to become the man of the house and figure out a way to help the clan.

Sileas has lived with Ian’s family, working her finger to the bone, trying to help them out and she has grown into a beautiful woman. Ian notices right away and all of the sudden is interested in her which irked the heck out of me. What a tool!

I can tell this is going to be a great series. The other characters are interesting and the ongoing struggle of the corrupt chieftain will definitely be intriguing.

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