Acclaimed for her Scottish novels, McCarty dramatically raises the bar with her new Highland Guard novel. Using Scotland's first war for independence as the backdrop, she deftly handles
a complex plot and keeps the story effortlessly on track. Her well-developed characters are as beautifully portrayed as the archetypes of a classic fairy tale.
Christina Fraser is taken to the island of Islay, where her sister is to marry a powerful warlord to form an alliance to fight for Scotland's freedom. To protect her fragile sister, Christina offers herself in marriage instead.
Robert the Bruce realizes Scotland can throw off England's King Edward using guerilla tactics. Arranging a meeting at Islay is his first step to form a rebel army with Tor, Chief MacLeod, a Norse-blooded Highlander as its leader. Tor has vowed to restore his clan to their rightful lands and power, and no wife will drag him away from that promise. But even while training for battle, Tor is drawn to his wife and begins to comprehend the meaning of romantic and passionate love. (BALLANTINE, Apr., 411 pp., $7.99)