(Highland Guard, #11)
By: Monica McCarty
Publisher: Ballatine Books
Published: Dec. 29, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
The first time he caught sight of Elizabeth Douglas, Thomas MacGowan thought she was a princess. To the son of the castle blacksmith, the daughter of the powerful Lord of Douglas might as well be. When it becomes clear that his childhood companion will never see him as a man she could love, Thom joins Edward Bruce’s army as a man-at-arms to try to change his lot. If he’s harbored a secret hope that he could close the gap between them, he faces the cold, hard truth when Elizabeth comes to him for help. She might need the boy who used to climb cliffs to rescue her brother from the hands of the English, but she would never see the son of a smith as a man worthy of her hand.
As kids, Thom was the castle blacksmith’s son and Elizabeth was the young lady of said castle. Even though it was unheard of for people of their class to become friends, but as children they never saw anything wrong with it. However, as they grew older Thom’s feeling for Elizabeth grew into love and pretty soon he found himself being put in his place. In order to get over Elizabeth’s rejection of him, he enlists in Bruce’s army in the hopes of becoming a knight and being granted lands of his own. However, a few years later he runs into the very woman who sent him away, Elizabeth. She’s no longer the teen he left behind, and he’s no longer the boy who left home to join the army.
I have really enjoyed the Highland Guard series so far. The author is very talented and the series is really well written. I always find myself taken back in time with these books. I feel like I’m right there with them fighting. However, The Rock was not one of my favorite stories and the reason for it was Elizabeth. I really disliked her from the start. She’s this flighty girl who doesn’t realize the pain she causes other people. She continues to drag Thom along, refuses to marry him because in doing so she would be lowering herself to his caste and that’s just unacceptable, but when he tries to move on she cries over the injustice of him not being hers. WHAT?! The entire time she seeks him out, pushes the boundaries, and then rejects him because he is beneath her. This went on for the entire book. I mean, she’s betrothed to another but because she saw Thom walk off with the lady he intends to marry, she gets all hurt and upset and tries to seduce him. I just did not care for her character at all. I felt like Thom was so better off without her. I really wish this book ended differently.
One thing that I love about these books is that you can read them out of order. You could even read them as a stand-alone if you want. The author catches you up on what’s going in in the prologue before jumping into the story. Plus, every book concentrates on a different character. However, every book is always going to have the men of the Highland Guard in it and thus will have a lot of references to previous books. I have not read the novella that dealt with Elizabeth’s brother, Jamie. I’m pretty sure I’m glad I didn’t because he character was just as bad as Elizabeth’s. I can only imagine how irritating he was in his own book. So, while I did feel like I was missing something when they kept bringing up something with him and his wife, it didn’t ruin the story for me.
The Rock–like all of the Highland Guard books– is a really well written historical romance. Each book focuses on someone different so every book seems different and new. If it wasn’t for Elizabeth I probably would have enjoyed this story a whole lot more. Unfortunately, she kind of ruined the experience of the book for me. Regardless, this is an enjoyable series that I will continue reading. Up next is Ghost’s story (the only female in the group that we have yet to meet) and I can not wait to read it.
“One day Elizabeth Douglas would regret letting him go. One day she would see the man he was and want him with all the longing and desperation that he felt right now, but by then it would be too late.”