4am, I read the last page.
I sorely need an escape from real life this past week and tonight I thought: let me try Monica McCarty's new book. I rarely read books so close to their release dates. It just isn't done in my book. I like to wait a little bit.
I am not disappointed. It is a good story. Granted, it is not my favorite out of all 10 books but i don't have so many favorites to begin with. The Striker is a well-written romance with all the signature Monica McCarty intensity and fast pace. Brace yourself for impact because Monica McCarty's characters always always, have one hell of a struggle in coming to terms with various topics in life. In this book, it is youthful love, trust and betrayal.
Eoin (24) and Margaret/Maggie (18) met at court. He was a serious scholar/warrior, famed for his strategic mind, coming from a more refined family. Margaret was the "country girl", whose family while of nobility but was considered to be "crass". Both were supposed to make politically beneficial marraiges for their families but fate had something else in mind. They met and despite the initial resistence, they quickly fell in love with each other.
Poor Maggie suffered gossips and discrimination. She just wasn't what Eoin's family had in mind for Eoin's wife who should be sophistication impersonified. Eoin did not mind, he was in love. But young that he was, he wished for a smooth transition for Maggie, from a rather wild life of the single daughter in 9 children to the more restrictive life of being Eoin Maclean's wife, living with his less-than-friendly family. What made things worse, Eoin could not tell Maggie about his involvement in Bruce's grand plan. His assignments took him away practically right after they got married and in the first year they married, they had spent one night together as man and wife, when Eoin begged for a short leave to see Maggie. Their seperation came about 3 times after Eoin had reluctantly left Maggie alone and it came with the biggest betrayal of Eoin's life and more than 700 men died because of that. Eoin let Maggie believe he was dead, took off and never looked back. That is 50% of the story, how Eoin and Maggie came to be where they were, standing in a church when Maggie was about to marry someone else, the scene that the book opens with.
Maggie became pregnant after Eoin last visited her. Since Eoin left her for good after the betrayal, she raised her son with her family and Eoin never learned of his son until he returned to capture Maggie's father at Maggie's wedding to another man. For once I did not mind a child in the story. Husband and wife, father and son, reunification, shock, regret, distrust, meeting each other 6 years later, Eoin and Maggie were adults now, parents no less. They still loved each other, but 6 years were a long time. The more you love, the more the betrayal hurts.
The first half when Eoin and Maggie fell in love was significantly better than the second half, at least for me. It was more desperate and more emotional. They were both young and emotions ran rampant. Eoin and Maggie were kept apart a lot but their connections were strong whenever they were together. Eoin did not shy away from expressing his feelings. Not that he did not try to hide them. He just was unsuccessful at hiding them. Maggie, despite Eoin's love, withered in the marriage, being separated from Eoin, being despised by his family, being alone in a hostile environment, being kept in the dark about what her husband was doing. Their marriage suffered but they held on until they could not anymore. I felt sad about their young love. When you are young, you don't know how to love. You know to possess, not to cherish; to have, not to hold; to demand, not to understand. This is what is so great about Monica McCarty's characters. They are so real in their only-human predicament. Time may change, but humans will be humans.
The second half is about redemption and learning to trust in a very adult way. I could feel they both aged. Much less impulsive. Eoin wanted to start over, with someone else, anyone but Maggie. He saw his friends happily married and the 31-year-old man, wary of war and death, wanted that for himself. Maggie did not argue. What was she to expect? But Eoin quickly came around. He loved Maggie and that had never changed. He resolved to work on the marriage, starting over with Maggie and their 5-year-old son. I think it's good that Eoin and Maggie did manage to let go of the past early (about 60%), instead of having them butting heads until the last page. Eoin and Maggie returend to his clan in the last 30% of the book. This is when they finally dealt with their trust issue, when Eoin accepted that he must share his life with Maggie, the cause he belived in, the role he played in Bruce's army. It was all to be expected in this book. But the second half was missing some something for me. It was nice, just not oh my god freaking fantastic. I think it was the clan life that kind of bored me. I like the younger Eoin and Maggie, though the adult versions have their own appeals.
Maggie oh Maggie I had one word for her youthful self: cheeky. She was cheeky and impulsive. I usually would hate such a heroine but Monica McCarty made me like her. It's no small feat so I have to make an honorable mention here in my review.
My favorite so far is still [b: The Raider|6325690|Raiders' Ransom (Raiders' Ransom, #1)|Emily Diamand|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337782994s/6325690.jpg|4546537]. I have re-read that book 5 times and loved it every time . This book trials behind but honestly, still a much better story than a lot of books out there. Monica McCarty has my respect for creating one after another such charming stories. I love her writing, there is no other words for it.