Highland Warrior - Monica McCarty My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

This book would’ve been a 4.5 at least, if only I could convince myself that Caitrina was the best thing for Jamie. I mean I tried and tried and tried even more to sympathize with her knowing her plight in life but God she tested my patience! At about 20th chapter, I gave up because I’m not a saint like Jamie. Hers wasn’t love, I wasn’t convinced at all and I don’t think in RL they’d even had a future together. Even knowing the century long feud between the Campbells and Lamonts didn’t help. Jamie was scrumptious and ever so sweet, he was wasted on Caitrina IMO!

Caitrina’s father, the Lamont, is the chief of Ascog in Isle of Bute. She has three brothers; two older, one younger. From the 1st scene I thought she was very spoiled and knows how to use her charms (a thing I despise in a heroine) to wrap others around her pretty fingers. Caitrina was immature and had a mercurial temper, something to do with all those beauty that people can’t seem to have enough off. Yet, I was ready to give her the benefits of doubt. There are rumors that Lamonts are harboring the MacGregors, the outlaws of the Highlands. Basically, they lost their lands because they defied King James and his stupid machinations to ‘civilize the barbaric Highlanders’. The MacGregors are hunted by Argyll’s men and Jamie, who’s called his ‘henchman’. Argyll is the most powerful laird of all the Highlands and abides by King James’s rule. He’ll see that the outlaws are removed. Argyll and Jamie had suspicions about the Lamonts because of the shared history between the MacGregors and the Lamonts and also, for the basic Highland hospitality rule (whoever it is in your keep is your guest, no matter what and you keep that person safe with your life or something like that).

Jamie has been under Argyll’s tutelage from a young age. He has a close bond with the Earl, because of his father. He has a lot of respect for Argyll, knows him closely. It’s also that after their father’s death, Argyll has taken care of him and his siblings because of his gratitude. We get to know more of Jamie’s relationship with Argyll as the story progresses and about his family, his elder brother Colin and sister Elizabeth. Also of Duncan, the eldest, who’s a bastard by birth. There’s some trouble with Duncan that’s not revealed but hinted at, as was something with the MacGregors and Elizabeth. Jamie comes to the Lamonts to investivate this, under the ruse that he’s here to attend the games. He has also heard of the Lamont’s beautiful daughter. He thought he’d use the ruse of asking for her hands as well. But he didn’t know that with one look at her he’d be a goner! Their 1st meeting was kinda funny. Caitrina was retrieving a kitten from the tree. When her younger brother Brian took the kitten and scampered off, she was stuck. Jamie saw it all; the beauty with great body, raven hair and in nothing but a sark (medieval underthings I guess). She was getting ready for the dinner, wearing a dress from which she’s almost falling off and runs outside to save the kitten in that dress. That was kinda stupid. Then she takes it all off, with Brian’s help to climb the tree and she’s 21. I had hard time believing it all yet, as I said, I gave her the benefit of doubt. So she sees this stranger, tall, big, a warrior in everyway and is immediately attracted. She’s lived a very sheltered and coddled life, so she knows nothing much about met. But, she knows this much that she’s beautiful and can use it to her advantage. She tries to command Jamie at first, not knowing who he is or more importantly from which clan he is. Caitrina, all her life, knew how to hate the Campbells, not loving them. Her mother was a Campbell but because she fell in love with the enemy chief, her clan abandoned her. So not knowing, she commands and then wheedles for Jamie’s help. Jamie is amused by the whole thing, yet he’s very attracted her as well. Who won’t be for crying out loud? She’s just too beautiful! I didn’t think it has anything to do with brains (sounds rather shallow) since Cairtina proved more than once she’s lacking in that area! Now after the rescue, where Caitrina learns that the man is not only big and tall but really handsome, with blue-gray eyes and dark auburn hair. And he’s asking for a boon, as a kiss, for this favor. Caitrina shows that she’s angry but she wants to kiss him too. Her body won’t listen to her and they share a steamy kiss which leaves both of them for wanting more.

Caitrina was daydreaming away about it. But later, from her brother Niall, she learns that the man she kissed is not only a Campbell but the Argyll’s henchman at that. It’s an epithet for Jamie but more of a cuss to all those who hates Argyll’s law in Highland. Caitrina is angry at this but not repulsed. She acts pretty hard to ignore Jamie, though it doesn’t work since her body is always attuned to his. Jamie takes it all as an amusement, always being treated like that from others and yet, somewhere inside he hopes that she’d see something different in him. The feast goes ok, Jamie has some clues but no strong proof of the MacGregors being there. Now, he really wants Caitrina for himself. He says as much to Lamont, who being a reasonable chief, knew that a connection with Argyll would help them ultimately. His sons, Niall and Malcolm are openly hostile to Jamie but do nothing. When the Lamont brings up the topic to Caitrina, she rejects downright (but remember, it’s not that she’s repulsed by Jamie or anything, she wants him alright but just being a hypocrite). She acts being repulsed even by the thought but her father tries to reason with her. Caitrina knows that she doesn’t know a lot of the ways of Highland life and how things are solved between clans because her father and bothers never saw fit to inform her. She dislikes being in the dark and ultimately she has to pay off for it. To foil Jamie’s plans or so to speak, she welcomes the advance of a man she rejected earlier but was almost raped when Jamie saves her. He kisses her and touches her. Afterwards, she so overcomes with anger (with herself for succumbing again like that) that she lets her mouth run. Jamie is angry too and tells her she’ll pay the price someday for such a cosseted life and POVs. Soon Jamie leaves.

In the meantime, at Dunoon , from Colin Jamie learns that Elizabeth has come to some troubles with the MacGregors. We also see how not very close Jamie is with Colin. Colin is very rash and short tempered, always in resentment of Jamie’s post and relationship with Argyll. Jamie waves those away. It seems like he was very close to Duncan instead of Colin. Anyway, while Jamie sorts this out, Colin rages Ascog, killing all of Catrina’s family. When she was about to be raped, again, Jamie comes to her rescue. Some guardsmen alerted Jamie of Colin’s actions and he rushed off to save her. But it was too late by then. He takes care of Caitrina, asking her nursemaid Mor to keep her for him and goes out to help the others and douse the fire. Mor takes Caitrina and the other few surviving servants and hides away. Jamie learns that Colin knew of the Lamont harboring the MacGregors and took it in his own hand to punish him. If only, Jamie thinks to his regret, he’s tell him and Argyll about his intentions about Caitrina it could’ve been avoided. And he keeps looking for Caitrina for the next 3 /4 months, not knowing if she survived or died. Oh, I can’t say enough of how sweet Jamie was!

Caitrina, meanwhile, goes to her uncle the Campbell of Toward. It seems like she’s changed a lot, as has her lifestyle. The shock has done its work. I was pretty sure this Caitrina has a lot of substance in herself. She lives like a pauper, though her uncle pleads her to use all the comforts he can offer. Same goes for her aunt. It seems like the Toward Campbells are very nice to her but Caitrina keeps her distance, knowing this can’t go on forever and she has to make a choice (possibly a marriage) for Ascog or whatever left of her clan. She also made sure no one knew of her survival since she was pretty sure Jamie was responsible for all these. You know, when he threatened her with those words, of coming to the real world soon. She took it literally (as she did everything in her life throughout the book- all surface meaning, not what’s underneath- what do you call a person like that?) and hates Jamie even more now. She somehow remembers him being there but she had no idea what Jamie actually did to save her. But Jamie soon finds her out. She tries to berate and accuse Jamie but her body; it doesn’t listen to her and still craves the man. Jamie is hurt by her behavior but knows it’s reasonable, after what she went through. I was in agreement with Jamie myself. Soon, Jamie talks to the Toward chief with a solution in mind. He wants to marry Caitrina and help restore Ascog. He was also willing to be responsible for all the Lamonts’ actions. Not only that, in return Jamie was would talk to Argyll about the MacGregors; if they surrender, Jamie would make sure that Argyll gives their chief and the others a fair trial. He knew Colin would be mad since he thought he deserves Ascog himself, but Jamie doesn’t care. The only thing he cares about is making Caitrina his wife.

Caitrina at first thinks her uncle betrayed her by talking about marriage to Jamie but after her talk with Jamie in private, she realizes it’s the best solution. And in her mind, she somehow knew Jamie isn’t at fault. Jamie explained to her what happened that day and for what reason. She doesn’t believe that her father harbored outlaws but living a sheltered life, she didn’t know a lot of things and again, in her mind, she knows because of Campbell and MacGregor’s shared history, her father is capable of doing something like this. I mean see what I mean, surface meaning all the time! With Caitrina’s request that he won’t let Argyll or Colin attend the ceremony, soon they marry. They start living at Rothesay Castle, which is close to Ascog and convenient for Jamie to look after it, courtesy of Argyll. The wedding night scene was sweet, so were the other love scenes. No matter what she thinks of Jamie, as I’ve already mentioned, Caitrina wants him physically. When Jamie realizes being on top of her sparks her memory of that night when she was almost being raped, Jamie changed the tactic and helped her cope with it. He gave her all the reign so that she doesn’t feel trapped. I mean how much sweeter a man can get? He’s totally, irrevocably in love with her, even though he doesn’t acknowledge it. With all his heart, he hopes and prays that Caitrina would see beyond his Campbell birth and come to feel something for him too. Ah honey, you so deserved someone better than her!

After that their life was going ok, at least at night when the burden of the truth doesn’t mar anything. Jamie rounds up a few Lamont men; one was the old guard Seamus. Jamie’s plan was to do something to make them realize that it’s for their best that they call him the laird, without any harsh treatment of course. But, Caitrina, as soon as she got to know about it, thought Jamie would throw them into the dungeon and torture! Ok, someone shake me because this is killing me! Jamie is again hurt by her assumptions but soon Caitrina realizes her fault. Only she never remembered what Jamie did for her, whenever it came to the matter of her clan. Seamus tries creating trouble for them. Oneday, while in Ascog, Jamie is hurt while saving Caitrina from a falling beam of wood. Seeing how Caitrina was crying and stuff, I thought she’s finally come to her senses and believed that for a while too. She was fussing over him and so on, which makes Jamie so very happy. They suspect Seamus, since he was trying to create a wedge between them but no proof of it surfaces. One day, after he recovered, Jamie storms out of the castle with summon from Argyll, not telling Caitrina anything about it. He asks her to wait for his return. He also, explicitly, ordered his guards that Caitrina doesn’t go out of the castle, of course for safely reasons. Does she listen to it? NO! She won’t be kept into the dark, so she’s angry that Jamie said nothing about the missive, also she won’t be ‘dictated’ his decisions. Stupid woman! Had my eyes rolling in every few pages! Anyhoo, she clothes as a maid and goes off to survey Ascog. On the way, Seamus stops her and asks her to come away with him. Soon she learns something valuable about her family. Two of her brothers, Niall and Brian, are alive! She’s very happy. Niall tells her that he hid away in Ireland but hearing about her marriage to the ‘Argyll Henchman’, he came back. They all thought Caitrina made a ‘sacrifice’ for the clan when it was anything but! Caitrina tried talking to them but they’re so totally blinded by the vile gossips about Jamie (most of it false) and years of feud that it wasn’t an easy task. It also doesn’t help that, after everything he’d done for her, she’d be suspicious of Jamie’s motives when Niall said negative things about him. Niall also tells her that the MacGregor chief have been hanged, a total opposite of what her marriage contract said. She immediately suspects Jamie for lying to her. GOD!! But she tries to talk to Niall and make him believe of Jamie’s good intentions but Niall doesn’t care. Also the fact that Niall’s intended, a MacGregor, was raped by Colin’s men was another reason for his blinding rage for the Campbells. So he’s in league with the MacGregors into it and willing to live as an outlaw and not become the chief of Ascog. He wants revenge! After knowing that Brian is very ill, Caitrina tries to talk Niall into take him to Rothesay but he declines. Caitrina decides she’d talk to Jamie later. Niall makes her promise that she won’t tell anything to Jamie. You know, I could see why her indecisions were so prominent but I wished, really wished that she would go with her heart and her instinct, rather than her confused clan members. I was still hoping that she’d see it all soon, but, ugh!

Jamie, in Dunoon, is mad angry at Argyll because of his treachery. It’s apparent that he’s blind whenever it comes to the MacGregors. Jamie threatens to leave his job but he was aware of the fact that he needed Argyll’s influence though. Anyway, Argyll tells him of the rumors of Lamont boys being alive and living as outlaws. Jamie tells him, in return of his treachery, Argyll has to be lenient with the Lamonts if any of them are indeed alive. He comes back to Rothesay after looking for the Lamont boys but it proved fruitless. Caitrina came home running from the cave where Niall and Brian were hearing of his arrival from Mor. Jamie suspects something but he’s so overcome to see her after such a long time that he relents. Caitrina of course distracts him so that he doesn’t ask any questions. Then the news of the MacGregors come up. Jamie suspects that Caitrina knew. And Caitrina is angry learning Jamie is still working for Argyll. She actually very vehemently demands that he choose between Argyll and herself. Jamie replies by asking her to choose between him and her brother. Beforehand, I also thought, Jamie should’ve left the job but I understood Jamie’s reasoning while Caitrina didn’t or rather decided to be stubborn about it. But when the news of her brothers come up, Jamie was being very gentle about it thinking of her reaction, Caitrina is immediately suspicious. Yah, don’t even ask! Jamie understands something so he asks her about it and she finally decides to confide in him. Jamie is hurt that she hid it from him but of course, he’d do anything for her, anything!

Caitrina is confused now, if she’s done the right thing by telling Jamie. Imagine me almost at the end of my patience and utterly annoyed! I didn’t mention it but Colin pays a visit to Rothesay when Jamie was away because he was attacked and recognized Niall in that lot. Colin was also why she confided in Jamie. So she takes Jamie and his men to the cave. Niall is furious and acts all betrayed. Jamie tries to convince them when Seamus grabs Caitrina on a knifepoint. Jamie panics but takes care of it. Niall understood that no matter what, Jamie’s feelings for Caitrina are genuine. When he send her away with some of his men to get treatment, Niall and Jamie comes to an understanding; that Jamie would arrest them for the sake of it and take them to Argyll. He’s very sure Argyll would keep his word and be lenient to Niall. Brian would stay in Rothesay and be treated. But Caitrina knows nothing of it. So when they all come back, she hears from a maid that Niall would be taken to Dunoon and she immediately... yes you’re right, thinks Jamie betrayed her. Oh, I don’t even feel like writing anymore, how immature and impetuous she was when it came to Jamie. When Jamie comes to her and asks after her injury she cuts him off and goes on to a tirade of how he betrayed her. Oh good lord, the man only wanted a little trust and he got nothing in return. Even Jamie understood, without trust and respect, they have no future together. Caitrina won’t listen to ANY reasoning at all. This makes it all the more disgusting since it’s not as if she didn’t understand Jamie’s logics, she definitely did. What she wanted was to have her way about her brothers and make Jamie choose between herself and his duty to Argyll. I agree that after what Argyll did to the MacGregor chief, it’s a bit scary to trust with her brother’s safety; the one she just got back. I so agree that this is a very difficult situation. But this doesn’t solve the problem of her utter lack of trust in Jamie or his capabilities. Also, she knew well enough how he feels for her. They fight, with Caitrina saying horrible things to Jamie and I wanted to strangle the b*tch! But, when she understood she won’t win, she kept saying how much she loves him and manipulates him to make love. Caitrina thought that Jamie has relented on her brother’s matter, that Niall won’t be taken to Dunoon and Jamie, thought the she finally got the matter. But it’s proven wrong soon when afterwards, as she blurts out her thoughts, hurting Jamie again. Jamie now knows it was all her ploy to get what she wanted. At daylight, Caitrina wakes up to find that Jamie is ever more determined to do his duty. Niall tells her it’ll be alright but nothing would make her see reason. She fights with Jamie, again, in front of everyone and tells him... to GO AWAY and never come back. OMFG! B*tch!!! I wish he kicked her outta his life because she’s not worth all this crap he went through!

Caitrina is sad, finally understanding that she’s done it now and plans something to win Jamie back. Before leaving for Dunoon, she talks to Brian. From their talks, it’s very apparent that someone as young as Brian even understood things that Jamie couldn’t get into Caitrina’s thick head for the whole book. I wasn’t interested in the ending at all and there weren’t any epilogue, thank God! I couldn’t go through anymore of Jamie’s misery and Caitrina’s moronic actions. But, as usual, I loved the authors note in the end and the historical facts in it. 4 stars simply because of Jamie and the fact that, at least for the half of the book, I enjoyed it very much.

A picture of Rothesay Castle in the Isle of Bute:

Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute

The beautiful Isle of Bute:

Isle of Bute