Mary of Mar is a widowed countess. Her son was taken from her when her husband was found guilty and executed for treason against Edward. She has made do with what she has had to her whole life. She was a bride and mother at fourteen, basically abandoned by her soldier husband. She literally had to grow up very fast and she lost very much at an early age. She always wanted to be important to a man and have him love her, something she didn’t have from her husband. He viewed her as an obligation and a child, whereas she was in love with him. She had a twin sister Janet, who disappeared after a bridge explosion during the battle for the crown. She is allowed a small amount of time to see her son and she has to try to support herself with embroidery due to the seizing of her late husband’s estates.
Kenneth Sutherland is the heir to the earldom of Sutherland. He’s a scrapper of sorts. He is a second son but was named his older brother’s heir due to the current earl’s barren wife. He lost a close friend of his in the last year and has had a hard time dealing with that. His sister is married to his arch enemy and main tormentor. He wants so badly to be one of ” Bruce’s Phantoms” or part of the Highland Guard. He has one chance to impress Robert Bruce and be admitted into the Guard. He sees Mary and instantly knows he must have her, at least once. This happens and Mary sneaks away. Her act of sneaking causes him to lose focus and the contest, therefore losing his chance. They are then separated for some time, she to try to hide her pregnancy and him to undergo training for the Guard.
This story wasn’t bad but I really didn’t connect to the characters. Kenneth was introduced in the last book after the death of his friend, Gordon, who was a member of the Guard. I was irritated with Gordon’s death in the last book and think Monica McCarty’s killing off of a main character was not a great idea. In McCarty’s defense, she does mix true events and fiction in her writing, so maybe Gordon’s death was a part of history. I just wanted to read about the rest of the original members of the Guard, not a newcomer. I would’ve liked to know more about him before he got his own story.
Monica McCarty is an auto-buy and auto-read for me. She always delivers and this book is no exception. My issue with the character was a personal preference and should not discourage anyone who has a desire to read this book.