Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The King’s Outlaws #2
Publication Date: 3/9/21
Number of Pages: 262
Gracious! I’m having to write this review without the benefit of any highlighted notes BECAUSE – I was so engrossed in the story I forgot to make the highlights. It is a fun, exciting read with characters I really liked. One of the best parts is that the heroine was strong, intelligent, and resilient without being a total shrew. Sadly, it seems that many authors equate a strong woman with being a shrew. You are going to love both Anya and Angus.
Angus Og MacDonald, Lord of Islay, never expected to be the leader of his clan. He was the second son while his brother Alasdair was a proud warrior and leader. Alasdair was killed in battle against the MacDougalls, but at least he took one of the MacDougalls’ allies with him, Guy O’Cahan. Angus has a dream – and that dream is to have all of the Hebrides under one Lord. If he succeeds in that, the people of the Isles will be safe, his people will be safe, and Scotland will be stronger for it. All he has to do is prove himself to King Robert the Bruce. He wasn’t off to a very good start in impressing the King after the ill-fated battle of Loch Ryan. While it wasn’t his fault, the King blames him for the capture of two of his brothers. He’s given the King and his forces sanctuary at Dunyvaig Castle on the Isle of Islay, but the welcome is wearing thin, especially with the King’s continued distrust of Angus.
Anya O’Cahan, daughter of Lord Guy O’Cahan, and ward of the Earl of Ulster since her father’s death, is a happy-go-lucky girl who doesn’t do well with rules, confinement, or those quiet skills required of ladies. She’d much rather be outside – drawing. She especially needs to escape after hearing that her betrothal to Lord Chahir O’Doherty would be announced in two days. She knows she is expected to marry a man of her guardian’s choice – and the choice could be much worse – she just doesn’t feel anything for him and she’s sure he doesn’t feel anything for her. She’ll do as she must, but…
Anya and Angus cross paths when Robert the Bruce decides to go to his father-in-law, the Earl of Ulster, to ask for help in obtaining the release of his brothers – as well as his wife Elizabeth and their daughter. When they arrive at Carrickfergus, under a flag of parley, they are greeted with a barrage of arrows and a battle ensues. They barely escape to their birlinns and manage to leave – but with the loss of several lives.
Anya is caught outside the confines of Carrickfergus when the battle begins. Yes, she’s snuck out of the castle again and now can’t get back in. She’ll just have to hide in one of the boats in her guardian’s fleet. Except – oops. She hides in the wrong birlinn and ends up in the North Sea during a horrendous winter storm. The only thing between her and death is the much-feared Angus MacDonald – known to all as Fairhair – and feared by all.
This was a delightful read and I loved both Anya and Angus. Angus was nothing like Anya believed – and Anya was everything Angus knew he shouldn’t want. They had quite a merry dance to get to their HEA. I almost despaired they’d ever get to the HEA, but they finally made it. It just took some very stupid actions by Angus to get there. Oh! And the epilogue is absolutely wonderful – it is set seven years into their future and well … just WOW!
I have to say, I didn’t care for Robert the Bruce in this book – but I’d almost bet that this depiction of him is closer to the real one than many of the others I’ve read. He had to be arrogant and ruthless to take on the task he had before him, and this book shows a bit of that. Now, I can hardly wait for the next book in the series, Highland Beast, which features Sir Arthur Campbell.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.