This is the first book in a new series: The Return of the Highlanders. In the prologue, four young lads go to visit the local wise woman to hear their fortunes. She gives each a snippet of the trials and tribulations they will face and sends them on their way...
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publish Date: April 26, 2011
From the author's website:
THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS: BOOK I
Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.
After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes home to find his clan in peril. To save his kin, he must right the wrongs from his past . . . and claim the bride he's long resisted.
As a young lass, Sìleas depended on Ian to play her knight in shining armor. But when his rescue attempt compromised her virtue, Ian was forced to marry against his wishes. Five years later, Sìleas has grown from an awkward girl into an independent beauty who knows she deserves better than the reluctant husband who preferred war to his wife. Now this devilishly handsome Highlander is finally falling in love. He wants a second chance with Sìleas - and he won't take no for an answer.
Ian MacDonald and his three best friends have been gone from their village for five years, fighting in France. He comes home to find his father injured, his brother grown, and his clan being led by a heartless man after the death of their leader. He must help his best friend claim his rightful place as clan chief, which will not be easy since they keep getting attacked. He's also got to face his wife, Sileas, his childhood friend that he was forced to marry and hasn't seen since the day they married five years ago. He plans to end the marriage so he's free to marry someone else. When he gets home, he doesn't recognize the comely young woman sitting in his parent's room, and when his friend tells him it's Sileas, he can't believe it. He sees the lovely, smart, caring woman she's become; he also sees that another man in the village has been paying attention to Sileas, and Ian is jealous.
Sileas MacKinnon has loved Ian all her life and knows she'll marry him some day. Then, due to circumstances no one could predict, they're suddenly married, and it's nothing like she thought it would be. He's been gone since their wedding day. Five years later she's thinking about ending the marriage and finding someone else, someone who will care for her and wants to be with her. Then Ian comes home, and she finds he's still as handsome as he was before he left. But that doesn't make up for leaving her alone, and now he's going to have to prove he's good enough for her.
My thoughts: Margaret Mallory has introduced a great cast of characters in The Guardian. I liked Ian, then thought he was a bit of a jerk, then grew to like him all over again. Caught in an unfortunate (and innocent) situation, he's forced to marry gangly, awkward, 13-year-old Sileas, who's followed him around since she was small. He's angry and lashes out, then leaves to fight in France with his four best friends. When he came home he was all kinds of an idiot about how to treat his wife, but as Sileas made him work for her affections his character grew (just like in real life, sometimes they need a push, lol).
Sileas was a strong woman, enduring the pity of the villagers for her husband deserting her; becoming the glue that held Ian's family together while he was gone, nursing his father back to health. When Ian came back she refused to let him walk back into her life and take over, and I loved it!
Of course, you can't have a Scottish adventure without clan wars, intrigue, traitors and secret alliances, and The Guardian has plenty! Ian and his friends have to face treacherous relatives and land-hungry neighbors, and through it all attempt to guide their clansmen into choosing a new clan chief. There were some surprising twists that had me holding my breath to see how things would turn out.
The four friends who are the cornerstones of the series (Ian, Alex, Duncan, and Connor) are very engaging and I liked how they have different strengths to help each other out. The Sinner is book 2 in the series, and is his friend Alex's story. Alex is a bit of a womanizer, so I'm looking forward to reading about his exploits.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.