The Book Worm: Review: The Saint

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: The Saint

the saint, monica mccarty, book review


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.
Genre: historical romance

Publishing date: March 2012

Offensive content: the violence inherent to war in the Middle Ages, and a couple of hot sex scenes.

The Saint is book 5 in the Highland Guard series by Monica McCarty and is, as all of the other books so far, a great read. But while it' not much longer that any of the previous four, somehow if feels heavier. There's a lot of angst around, a lot of scars that need to heal (both physical and emotional), and a lot more drama, so it took me longer to digest this book. Still, this series is a must for anyone who loves historical romance (and handsome highland warriors). 

The Saint brings us the story of Magnus and Helen , in love since their youth but separated due to family feuds and the war. Years ago, Magnus asked Helen to marry him, but she didn't say yes. Actually, she never really said no. She was too young and too innocent, and her brothers took her away before she could make up her mind. Then, much later, family duty forces her to marry William, Magnus' best friend and partner in the Highland Guard. That she goes through with the wedding is yet another mishap in her relationship with Magnus, because he's adamant that he doesn't love her anymore. And basically this pattern repeats itself throughout the book, long after William dies without ever consummating his marriage to Helen. Magnus loves Helen but the memory of her first rejection and his loyalty to William prevent him from approaching her: Helen loves Magnus, keeps saying that she won't give up, but then almost always falters when she has to make a decision. Of course there are lots other interesting twists and turns to the story, but after a while of reading slight variations of the same central plot over and over it becomes...well, a bit boring...and that's why this book deserves only 4 stars.

Other than that, Monica McCarty magically transports us, as usual, to another time and place in a very convincing way. Every detail is as historically accurate as possible (all duly explained in the author's note at the end), and all characters are wonderfully portrayed. The plot to murder the king provides adequate suspense and intrigue to keep the story flowing (even though you realize who the culprit is early on), the side story of William (Helen's brother, not her husband) and Muriel adds a bit of color, and there is still and interesting and unexpected twist at the end, which will be surely fun to follow in the rest of the books in the series.

The Saint can be read as a stand alone book, but I strongly recommend you to start at the beginning and read all of them in order. Or, at least, book one, The Chief, which is a must if you want to understand how the Highland Guard came to be (read my review of The Chief here). But overall, my recommendation is that you shouldn't miss any of them! 
There are already 11 published books in the Highland Guard series, and I hope to start book 6, The Recruit, very soon.
Happy readings,

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