Already a devoted fan (scratch that: obsessive fan) of Highlanders, especially in my romance novels, it should come as no surprise that The Saint is a top contender for my favorite book of this year. But not all Highland romances are the same, and it takes a special and very talented author, to create not only a hero for the reader to fall in love with, but also a whole cast of other characters for the reader to enjoy and connect with. Monica McCarty is such an author, and while The Saint is only my second journey into her work, I can promise you one thing—it will not be my last!
Helen de Moray is just the sort of heroine that I enjoy reading about—and wish that I could be. She's not only beautiful (perhaps not classically, but who cares?), but also very strong and determined, she cares about her family, and she works hard, especially doing what she loves (healing). She's not one of those heroines that whine all day; she's not one to complain when things get tough.
And, as she is soon to find out with Magnus “Saint” McKay, passion runs through her veins and she's been waiting for that one person to offer her what she's been missing in life—“more”. More love, more passion, more adventure; Magnus can fulfill all of those wishes and more for her.
Part of the secret Highland Guard, Magnus has always been teased by his fellow brethren for being so pure (not turning to woman and drink during times of celebration or relaxation). But they don't know that he's already found the woman of his dreams—and she turned him down. His pride hurt, he turned away from her, joined the Guard, and never looked back. Though he still thinks of Helen, the fiery lass he fell in love with when they were both younger, he's never tried to talk to her, to tell her how he felt—how he still feels. But when William, his Guard partner, goes home to marry Helen, Magnus finds that he is torn—between loyalty to his friend and love for his Helen.
Stubborn pride gets in his way again, and Helen goes through with the marriage, thinking that Magnus has no feelings for her. Soon after, she realizes her mistake—she sees the way he still looks at her, the longing and love in his eyes...and the tick beneath them that means he is lying. How can she stay married to William when her heart belongs to his friend? Various events lead to Helen becoming a widow only a few weeks after her wedding. But even then, Magnus won't come near her. It's almost like he blames her for something...or perhaps blames himself for something he had to do? Helen's determined to win his heart back though, and she will stop at nothing—even if it means crawling into his bed naked one night...
I loved Saint! From page one, he had my attention, and within a few short chapters he had stolen my heart just as easily as he stole Helen's. Saint (as he shall always be known as to me) was not only an extremely sexy man, but also one with a lot of heart and courage, strength and honor, loyalty and pride. He was a bit flawed—he wasn't perfect, and his relationship with Helen was truly messed up for the longest time, which leads to a great deal of heartache and pain on both of their parts. But it was partly because of all these things that I fell for him. I would have pushed Helen out of the way in an instant to take her spot! But I know how wonderful they are together, how much they belonged together, so I'll just quietly lust for him from afar instead!
As much as I loved Saint, he wasn't the only character that I liked. Helen, as I mentioned before, was a great heroine, both a perfect match for Saint as well as a good woman that I could respect and relate to as well. But then there were also a few of the secondary characters—from Helen's brothers to her friend and fellow healer Muriel, to the great King of Scotland, I enjoyed reading about them all, and look forward to reading more of their stories in other books (ie: the rest of the Highland Guard). McCarty did a wonderful job at creating vivid characters for the reader, and I loved the sideline romance we had in this one as well, between Will (Helen's oldest brother) and Muriel. In between panting for Saint, I was also rooting for them.
But perhaps the thing that I loved the most about The Saint is the writing. McCarty has a way with words, and every bit of her talent came through with this book! It's a lushly written historical, even though it is, of course, fiction, you can tell that much research went into her creating, as well as a passion for the time period and country, something that simply cannot be taught or faked. The story was brilliant—romantic and sexy, heart-warming and emotional, action packed and thrilling. I couldn't have asked for anything more!
I think my favorite quote goes a long way towards telling Helen and Saint's sweeping love story. The quote came during their first meeting, when he was only 19 and she a young lass of 14. Helen came across him, kneeling over his dog, racked with pain at the thought of what he had to do. But when she shows him that she can save the dog, we see right then that he begins to fall for her, and she for him!
“He would probably think her as odd as her father and brother did. She ventured a glance up at him from under her lashes. But he wasn't looking at her as if she were odd at all. He was looking at her as if...
Her breath caught. As if she were special.”
5 STARS! A spectacular novel of second chances and forgiveness, loyalty and passion, promises and secrets, The Saint is truly one of a kind! I can't tell you how much I loved it, how it killed me to put the book down, even for a moment. How the only thing I regret, even now, is not reading McCarty's other books in this series first. But I will promise you this: before the end of this year, I will be going back and reading all of her previous books, so that when her next release comes out, I'm ready for it, eagerly awaiting its arrival! If you are a fan of sweeping historical romances, ones that offer not only a great romance story but also a great adventure and even a touch of the historically accurate, than this is the book for you! After reading one other book from McCarty, I can honestly say that she has a rare talent when it comes to Highland romances, and one that I hope she continues to use for years to come.
Robert the Bruce consolidates lands and loyalty in a bold war for Scotland’s independence, as his elite team of warriors, the Highland Guard, fight for king, country . . . and love.
Magnus MacKay is the ultimate Highlander: tough, proud, able to master any terrain and to best his enemies. Called “the Saint” for his refusal to discuss women, as well as for his cool and steady leadership, Magnus hides a painful truth. It isn’t virtue or piety that keeps him silent, but a wound of love and loss that cuts so deep he cannot bear to speak of it. But when the woman who refused him is betrothed to his friend and fellow Guardsman, Magnus is tested by love’s battle cry.
A wild and innocent beauty, Helen chose family duty over her desire for Magnus. Now the anger in his eyes mirrors the tormented regret in her heart. But as deadly subterfuge stalks the King and his Guard, Helen vows to right her youthful mistakes with a woman’s determined spirit. Still, Magnus harbors secrets and an iron will not to weaken to temptation—or heartache—again. But as danger looms, it’s the kiss not of a saint, but of a sinner, that can save them.