The Book Worm: Review: The Chief, by Monica McCarty

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: The Chief, by Monica McCarty


Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. And to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.

The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war against the English. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one—especially not to his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his command of the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to Tor’s bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.

Although her husband’s reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes that something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina’s reckless bid to win her husband’s love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and to open his heart—before it’s too late.

Genre: historical romance

Publishing date: March 2010  

Offensive content: the book is set at the brink of war, so expect violence, both physical and psychological. Some hot sex scenes too.


I came across this book by chance, while browsing over at some time ago. The Chief is book one of the Highland Guard Series, which holds nine books and a novella so far, with two more books to be released later this year. I've read the first four books so far (The Chief, The Hawk, The Ranger and The Viper) and they're all great. 

Most of all, I really admire the way Monica McCarty weaves history and fiction together. The end result are totally realistic and believable books. From the foreword of the Chief: 

The year of our Lord thirteen hundred and five. After nine years of bloody war, Scotland is firmly in English hands. Edward Plantagenet, the most ruthless and powerful man in Christendom, sits upon the throne, and William Wallace, Scotland's great freedom fighter, lies in an English prison. All is seemingly lost, the voices of rebellion crushed by the mighty "Hammer of the Scots."
But in her darkest hour, the torch of Scotland's freedom will be lit once more. Against nearly insurmountable odds, Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick and Lord of Annandale, will make his bid for the throne.  
But he will not do so alone.
Lost in the mists of time, forgotten by all but a few, is the legend of a secret band of elite warriors handpicked by Bruce from the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles to form the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. 
 In a time when the veil between life and death is a mere shadow, Bruce's Highland Guard will stop at nothing but freedom from English rule.  
These are the stories of the men who answered freedom's call, and in the process, helped forge a nation.

You can Google around and you will find real historical references to most of the characters and the author's note at the end of the book clearly shows that there was a lot of background work needed to put these stories together.

Tor MacLeod is a dark, serious man, troubled by his past and bound by honor and loyalty both to his people and to his country. He's respectful, brave and, of course, handsome, one of a rare breed of men that are attractive at any point in time. The dangerous, uncertain background of the war between Scotland and England and the rough lay of the land in itself make him even more appealing. By the time you get to the Highland Guard's initial training sessions you'll be wanting one (or more) of these warriors for yourself...

Christina is a young woman that grew up both neglected and abused by her father and that comes into marriage with Tor to save her sister from that same fate. She's also very brave in her own way and I really admired her by the end of the book, even if I didn't agree with some of her choices in between.  She's also a perfect match for Tor, and you'll be rooting for them all throughout the book.

The romance? It's sizzling hot, of course. Christina and Tor's love story is well developed and believable and there is a happy ending (well, as happy and you can get in the middle of war). I guarantee that as soon as you finish this book you'll be looking for the second one (and you'll not be disappointed too - Hawk is my favorite of the Highland Guards so far...). 

But The Chief is so much more than a love story, it is a lesson in history, bravery and loyalty, on how men (and women) of courage keep going even when all the odds are against them, to fight for what they believe in. All in all, a great read!




  1. I have read several historical fiction books set during this time period, and I never tire of them! I love the historical aspect blended with the fictionalized characters for a wonderful story. Great review! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I totally agree! Care to share which books you love best? I'm always looking for good reads!

  2. I've never been able to get into this period in history. Maybe these books would do the trick? Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!

    1. These were a first for me too, but I'm loving the series. You should give it a try! Thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend!


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