I really must learn to give writers second chances.
I read [b: The Chief: Highland Guard #1|6620670|The Chief (Highland Guard, #1)|Monica McCarty|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1351573102s/6620670.jpg|6814836] by Monica McCarty before. That was my first book from her. I thought the book was ok, but the heroine really annoyed me with all her "why won't he love me?" After that, no matter how many raving reviews I have read about Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series, I could not bring myself to read another one from the series.
This book, the Raider, is not an easy book to like. Robbie, the hero, is as stone-hearted as humanly possible. Even a full-of-love Rosalin almost did not manage the daunting task of melting Robbie's heart. The struggle lasted the entire book and I swear to God, a few blood veins near my temple were about to pop when Robbie kept up his impossible speech about how everything was not meant to be. At times I wanted to scream at Rosalin, tell her to leave this pig-headed Robbie behind and let him wallow and rot in his pitiful life without her. It is, a frustrating book.
But frustrating goooooooooood.
Scotland of Robert the Bruce, was a dangerous time and place to fall in love. Robbie, a Scottish warrior and Rosalin, a English lady, had no business developing any tender feelings towards each other. But that they did. Robbie however, fought Rosalin every step of the way. Rosalin saw love and hoped for a future with the impossible Robbie Boyd. Robbie, too long in the war, saw absolutely no hope and decided the best he could do is to fight for the freedom for his people. He thought: it was not as if I ever had a chance in hell with Rosalin. If I refused to be with her, at least I got to do my job.
Robbie is ruthless, that is a fact. He harbored lots of feelings towards Rosalin but almost was never swayed by his personal emotions. He kept true to his character. As often as I flinched reading how insensitive he was to Rosalin's feelings, I cannot fault Monica McCarty for writing him this way. I think this is exactly how Robbie is supposed to be. It simply wouldn't do, if McCarty made Robbie into some "I will chance for love" kind of hero. He definitely protected Rosalin from everyone else, but the fact is, the real danger Rosalin faced, was always Robbie and his inability to see past the English/Scottish feuding.
I think the characterization in this book is fantastic. Robbie and Rosalin are exactly who they should be in this story. They both stayed true to their characters. No magical change of heart to appeal to the readers' tender feelings or needs for a swift happy ending. The plots are complex. I read every word, not wanting to miss anything in the story. The story kept a fast and intense pace. I felt like I was forced to go on one of those brutal rides through the Highlands because the story was so intense sometimes I felt the tightening of my own chest. It was like having a blistering wind coming at your face when you are riding against the wind.
I finished the book in one sitting, could not put it down. I now see why people love Monica McCarty. The intensity, the imperfect characters, the distrust and betrayal, she turned some ugliness in life into something that people long for in this book: the overdue happily ever after after much suffering.