Sandy M's Reviews > The Ranger

The Ranger by Monica McCarty
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's review
Jun 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical

I’m so thoroughly enjoying this Highland “black ops” series that Monica McCarty has created. She’s taken actual events in history and integrated her idea of the elite and dangerous fighters needed during some of Scotland’s blackest days, giving each hero a military or superhero “power” to make him a mean, lean fighting machine. On top of that, Ms. McCarty has taken her stories to the next level, twisting the lives of the hero and heroine in such a way that the emotion is wrung out of you till there’s nothing left. Then there’s only happiness all around.

We, of course, met Arthur Campbell in The Chief where he trains with those hand chosen by Robert the Bruce to be part of his new Highland Guard. Arthur’s special abilities are a sort of Spidey sense, able to detect danger and people and the like seemingly out of thin air, which has caused problems for him in the past with folks becoming suspicious when he does his thing. Therefore, he spends a lot of time alone, it’s just easier that way. During the training, Arthur is tossed out of the Guard - there’s no tolerance for any behavior but following the rules and learning what they need to know. As I felt at the time, we find out in this book that it was all a setup so that Arthur could infiltrate the English, spy where needed to give Bruce and his men the edge in his quest for the crown and trying to keep peace in the Highlands.

Arthur’s latest assignment is to insinuate himself into the good graces of John of Lorn to learn what he can to hasten Bruce’s conquest of the man. He’s been waiting for this opportunity for fourteen years after witnessing his father’s death at Lorn’s hands. Vengeance has been so much a part of his consciousness for so long that not even coming face to face with the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen can deter him from his path. He’s relieved that Anna, Lorn’s daughter, doesn’t recognize him from a dangerous encounter a year before. He couldn’t leave her at that time to walk into the middle of an ambush, and now he may pay for that with his life.

So Arthur does the only thing he can - he avoids Anna or ticks her off, anything to keep her distracted. But things just don’t work that well for him. Circumstances happen that require both his extraordinary senses and his incredible speed, and Anna is much too perceptive - and irked that he appears to dislike her - so Arthur must be even more careful around her than he’s ever been before. But the woman has her own ideas, over and above what her father has asked of her, which is, of course, unbeknownst to Arthur. She sees things in him that no one else does, things he’d rather have left alone. Arthur’s tightrope becomes more precarious by the moment in this mission he never wanted to begin with.

What makes this book for me is the situations Arthur finds himself in that require the use of his abilities. More than once he saves Anna’s life with those abilities and that makes Anna suspicious. She never could imagine what she learns about this intriguing enemy of her family, though. The emotion between them goes back and forth between longing and hurt, because Arthur wants to do the right thing when it comes to Anna, even if there really isn’t a right way that will turn out any way but bad for her. But the man puts what he can into it, refusing to fail in his mission. The action scenes are done very well, sword fighting and flying arrows at the worst times.

The historical research that’s going into this series is incredible. Ms. McCarty has interwoven her characters into past reality that makes reading it a delight, even despite the dire circumstances of the time. I believe this is her best work to date, giving these characters such an emotional roller coaster in life to get through. It all actually seems impossible at the end, but then that’s why we read romance, for the impossible to happen.

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