Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: The Ranger

The Ranger
Monica McCarty
Historical Romance (Scotland/1308)
Highland Guard/Book 3
Ballantine/December 28, 2010

From Goodreads ~

Embedded deep behind enemy lines, Arthur “Ranger” Campbell is Bruce’s secret weapon as he wages his final assault on the enemies who stand against him. Recruited to join the Bruce’s secret elite fighting force for his prized scouting skills, Arthur’s razor sharp senses and ability to blend into the shadows make him the perfect spy. But when this shadow warrior must infiltrate the clan of the chieftain who murdered his father, his heart is locked on revenge. Inside he faces unexpected resistance from the sweetest of obstacles—a honey-haired siren who is his enemy’s daughter. But the vivacious, enchanting Anna MacDougall is a woman whose skill at uncovering deception rivals his own.

Intrigued by this ruggedly handsome newcomer to her father’s forces, Anna accepts the challenge his determined indifference to her arouses. Though anxious for the war to end and yearning for a quiet life with a good man to love, Anna is drawn to this mysterious knight whose eyes devour her but whose words push her away. But as danger, treachery, and the threat of looming war draw them closer into each other’s passions and secrets, a warrior made of steel must make a choice from the heart: love or revenge.

The third book in McCarty wonderful Highland Guard series is about Arthur Campbell who must play a game of cat and mouse with the enemy within their very ranks. I've been curious about Arthur or Ranger as he's known in the Guard. He's very loyal to Robert Bruce which makes his task of posing as a supporter of Edward beyond difficult.

Arthur Campbell's mission is a test of his abilities. Then he is additionally tested when he meets Anna MacDougall. She is the daughter of his greatest enemy, one that Arthur has swore revenge upon. Of course they fall in love but Arthur knows they have no future. I loved how conflicted Arthur is. On the one hand he has his mission which is critical to the cause he believes so strongly in. On the other hand he is falling fast for Anna and sees no way it can end well. He was continually walking a tightrope creating a tense and suspenseful situation.

Anna MacDougall is an unconventional woman of her time. She is well educated, with even her father asking her opinion. She adores her father and enjoys helping him fight Robert Bruce aka King Hood, any way she can. I love when authors give us intelligent heroines, especially in historicals. I think we expect contemporary heroines to possess intelligence but given the constraints regarding education placed on women throughout history, it's always refreshing to have a historical heroine with the brains to challenge the hero.

The love story is filled with numerous obstacles, the obvious being Anna and Arthur on different sides of the war. It wasn't an easy road to HEA, which made it all the more priceless when they got there. It didn't help that Anna was blinded to her father's faults. She practically worshiped him and even with evidence to his brutality, for an intelligent woman, she took far too long to realize his loyalty wasn't with her. The action and suspense run high through much of the story. McCarty does well keeping the balance of political intrigue and romance in place. And while the politics were certainly present, I never felt they overshadowed the romance.

I wanted to add one minor problem I have with this series. The covers. I really wish publishers would move away from the man-titty covers and give us covers that better reflect what's inside. Yes, the heroes are all well muscled but this is such an intelligent and well written series that there is far more than man-titty between the pages. I would direct pubs to the lush and beautiful covers of historical fiction. They are not only gorgeous but give a feel for the time period. JMHO

I'm really enjoying this series. It has everything I like about historical romances. In a way, it's more like a historical romantic suspense than strictly a historical romance. However you label it, this series is not to be missed if you're looking for something different than your regency and Victorian romances.

Rating: A-

Books in this series ~

The Chief
The Hawk
The Ranger
The Viper (October 25, 2011)


  1. This sounds like a good series - how have I missed it so far? I've read part of the Campbell series and really liked that one. I'll have to look this one up.

    Thanks - great review.

  2. I think it's hard for girls who are daddy's girls to face their faults, especially when it has so much repercussions... and it seems to me Anna's father wasn't a bad father to her. Makes it even more difficult.

    I think Ms McCarthy is a very talented author and very good at highlanders romance... Just too bad they're not my favorites ^_^;

  3. Tracy ~ I have one of her other series on the tbr pile that I need to get to. Really enjoy her writing.

    Nath ~ Awe, too bad you don't like highlander romances. McCarty is really good at them.