I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is book nine in the Highland Guard series and it's a foregone conclusion I'm going to do everything in my power to get my greedy little hands on the previous books. I would also like to say, as someone who hasn't read the other books, the list of characters, who they were, and the foreword relaying the back story was very much welcomed.
Gregor "Arrow" MacGregor has fought alongside Robert the Bruce for seven years in the war against England for Scotland's independence. He is part of the Highland Guard, also known as Phantoms, an elite group of warriors; his special skill is marksmanship with the bow. (His mother's name is Lady Marion so I imagine there is a sly wink to a certain mythical hero) He is also "The Most Handsome Man in Scotland". This moniker, along with certain events from his past, has led Gregor to become very jaded, cynical, and guarded. He doesn't think anyone truly knows him or cares to know him beyond his pretty face.
On a mission to try and save a village from being ransacked from the English, Gregor meets Cate. Cate, fifteen at the time, attacked an English soldier trying to save her mother from rape, who in turn kills her mother, and throws Cate into a well leaving her to starve to death. Gregor rescues her, thus giving Cate a serious case of hero worship. He brings Cate to his home and gives her to his mother to raise. He visits a handful of times and Cate's worship begins to mature into love.
The story really begins when Cate is twenty and Gregor thirty-one and he comes home for a little rest and relaxation from the war. Gregor wasn't around her much while she was growing up, I never found it icky or weird when he starts to develop and acknowledge his feelings for Cate, even when he calls himself her ward. Even though the title of this book is "Arrow" I would almost argue this is more of Cate's story. She is the open, honest, and fearless woman we all want to be. It may seem like her love for Gregor was born from childish feelings, they in fact may have been, but she proves over and over that she really sees the true man behind the pretty face. It may make you feel frustrated as Gregor refuses and pushes Cate away again and again and Cate comes up with reasons to justify his actions. I found it refreshing to have a character think why is he reacting this way instead of flying off the handle and creating melodrama after melodrama. However, I'm not saying you won't want to slap Gregor a time or two and yell at Cate to just give up. These characters have sizzling chemistry together and you're going to love and hate them at times. One thing I promise you is that you won't ever be bored.
The pace is steady and will keep you reading and while the overall tone is a little lighter than what I usually favor, I was still captivated. I also thought when Gregor capitulates to Cate, it felt slightly rushed. He finally allows himself to give in to his feelings for her and then they're sleeping together and marriage is being discussed. There is also a Big Misunderstanding and even though it is contrived, I thought it worked well in adding something to the story. Furthermore, there are times when the large cast of characters are mentioned along with their nicknames, I started to feel overwhelmed but if you have read the previous books you'll probably just enjoy the reunion.
Overall, this was a heartfelt, at times maddening couple, historical romance story. Your emotions will run the gamut throughout this book. In the end, however, you will feel a sense of fulfillment and a strong desire to go and read the other books in the series.