**advance reader copy received via NetGalley**
I enjoyed the 11th book in Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series. I really appreciated the history that she deeply interweaves into her stories, and I love the emotional depth that she creates in her characters. I have a few quotes that I would like to add, but this was an advance reader copy containing a disclaimer telling us not to quote without verification, so I will refrain until I get confirmation. Set in and around Douglas, Roxburgh, and Edinburgh areas of Scotland, the characters spend a bit of time along the borderland as the men are actively working against the English for independence.
Elizabeth Douglas and Thomas MacGowan were unlikely childhood friends – the daughter of the laird and the son of the village blacksmith. As they grew older, their relationship strengthens, and Thom puts his heart on the line…only to have Elizabeth dismiss his feelings. When he hardens his heart and moves on, he closes Elizabeth out. Once she tracks him down, her insistence on connecting with him as a friend only aggravates the feelings he has suppressed over the years. Thom finally decides to fight for Elizabeth, but can he trust Elizabeth to fight for them?
I was aggravated with Elizabeth as a character. I was not a huge fan of her oblivious outlook and unreasonable expectations. I think because I liked and connected with Thom so much she kind of seemed more trouble than she was worth. Honestly, though, we see similar situations today and they tug on the emotions just as much as this one did. I think fans of the series enjoy this book, and fans of history will love the in-depth author’s note at the end.