The 3rd book in the highland guard series to which I must rate 2 stars.
I am now familiar with Monica McCarty's style. She takes the time to build up the backdrop of the story. Sometimes it takes 30% of the book to just get the scene ready. But I felt that in other books, the background is either rich in historical details, which is one of the reasons why her historicals are great, or the background really shows you how the lead characters were connected from the beginning, despite how short their acquaintance was "back in the days", which draws you in the core relationship right from the beginning even if you know that the lead characters will be apart for a while before the real story kicks in.
The Arrow, Gregor MacGregor, has played secondary characters in other books and he seemd really interesting, too. I had hoped for a more heart-wretching story for him. I mean, a handsome guy like MacGregor, you gotta have him grovel a bit. That is just my female pride talking.
But I don't know what Monica McCarty was thinking. She chose a brat for MacGregor. A girl he saved years ago, taken into the MacGregor household as his ward, who had been harboring teenage fantasies about Gregor since he saved her from near-death 5 years ago.
From the get-go I had trouble with Cate. I never like a tomboy for my heroine. It is just not my thing. Cate is a tomboy at heart, not exactly what you would call "feminine". I also do not like a woman chasing a man, it does not matter how much she likes him. I find that distasteful. Again, it is just not my thing. I am a rather "haughty" female myself in love. If a guy does not show me that he is worth my time, it does not matter how much I like him, I would never spare him a look. And Cate had her eyes set on MacGregor since 15. MacGregor told her repeatedly that he did not want her. What did she do? She thought oh no we are perfect together, he just needs to see it. And she went on acting like a pathetic ninny. Pardon my language but really, Cate disgusted me.
I am definitely seeing a pattern in Monica McCarty's books. Her heros are all very pig-headed and rather non-commital. They have strong feelings for the heroines but refuse to acknowledge them. This is fine, really. I am not crazy about those heros who spend the entire book chasing after his lady loves. I mean, where is the story if they were so in love from the beginning?
The heroines are all very sure of their feelings and pursue the men. Most of the time the heroines are practical, which I think saved them in my eyes. They enter into a sexual relationship with their heros knowing that there would be no promises. They went in with their eyes open, no fantasy about happily ever after. This is important for me, or I would find it difficult to respect the heroines. And they have other suitors which give them more leverage in the romantic tug-of-war. Usually, Monica McCarty finds the right balance. I find the women sometimes a bit forward but they do have enough self-respect for me.
I cannot say that for Cate. I wanted to strangle her from the beginning. She is the etipome of everything I dislike in a heroine, trying too hard, too emotionally needy, too desperate for attention and love, too calculating, too manipulative, not feminine enough, not kind enough, not soft enough. A silly woman who lost touch with the reality.
Why and why did Monica McCarty not make MacGregor grovel? He deserves to grovel in dirt. He should be secretly loving a woman who turns him down again and again and again. I think he should have a low social status, and fall in love with the laird's daughter. That should teach his pretty face a lesson.
There are only 3 more highland guard books that I have not read, 2 coming out this year and 1 more next year. I pray with my patheticly romantic heart that Monica McCarty gives me 3 unforgettable books with lead characters to die for. Please please please no shrews, no tomboys, no child-like women waiting for love, no mothers who want more than anything to be with their children, no warrior princesses. Do what you will the heros, they are usually the same anyways, give me a kind lady who knows herself, who has steely inner strength, who does not raise her voice to make a point, who does not suffer greatly from inferiority, who is practical, who has grace and dignity.
The Arrow is a huge disppointment for me, I am almost inclined to rate it 1 star. God knows I have done it to similar books from beloved authors. I am feeling charitable today. That is the only reason why the book gets 2 stars from me.