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The Viper: A Highland Guard Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Monica McCarty
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 18 2011 Highland Guard
The war for Scotland’s sovereignty rages on—as Robert the Bruce is crowned king and the Highland Guard, his elite fighting force of legendary warriors, battle for land . . . and love.
 
Prized for his snakelike stealth and deadly strikes, Lachlan “Viper” MacRuairi is a warrior to enlist but not to trust. His only loyalty is to his purse, his indifference sealed by bitter betrayal. All that changes when Lachlan is tasked to protect and deliver Bella MacDuff to the king’s coronation—and the proud, lushly sensual countess unwittingly challenges him to his greatest battle yet: to love again.

Passionate and devoted, Bella has defied Britain’s king and her own husband to place the crown on Bruce’s head, and for this she pays a terrible price: Losing her daughter and her freedom to her husband’s vengeance. Imprisoned with barbaric cruelty, she vows to reclaim her child, even if it means selling her soul—and her body—to a dark, lethal warrior whose eyes glint like steel, but who makes her skin tingle and her breath race. Together they embark on a rogue mission with sinister twists and turns that threatens not only Bella’s gamble to save her daughter—but also her heart.

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The Viper: A Highland Guard Novel + The Saint: A Highland Guard Novel + The Ranger: A Highland Guard Novel
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Product Description

Review

Monica McCarty is the bestselling author of The Ranger, The Hawk, and The Chief, the first three books in the Highland Guard series, the Highlander trilogy (Highlander Untamed, Highlander Unmasked, and Highlander Unchained), and the Campbell trilogy (Highland Warrior, Highland Outlaw, and Highland Scoundrel). Her interest in the Scottish clan system began in the most unlikely of places: a comparative legal history course at Stanford Law School. After a short but enjoyable stint as an attorney, she realized that her career as a lawyer set against her husband’s transitory life as a professional baseball player was not exactly a match made in heaven. So she traded in her legal briefs for Scottish historical romances with sexy alpha heroes. Monica McCarty lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and their two children.

About the Author

Monica McCarty is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than ten Scottish historical romance novels, including the Campbell series, the MacLeods of Skye series, and the Highland Guard novels.

AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson, a native of London, England, is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very excellent Series!! April 3 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Absolutely love this series, the author is an incredible writer. I highly recommend to all!! Just don't take my word for it, try the samples first on your Kindle!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Highland Guard series March 8 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Highland Guard series love them all and all of Monica McCarty writing is very good. Looking forward to the next release.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Viper Nov. 17 2012
By Nicole Laverdure TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
By Monica McCarty "The Viper" of the "Highland guard" novels is a great medieval romantic suspense starring lead characters, Bella and Lachlan, who find love. Great characters, a tight plot, an atmospheric historical setting, and of course, well written, makes this book a must to read. I was hooked from the first page and could not put it down. I really liked the time period and the story
set in the Highlands. I will definitely be reading more books of Ms. McCarty
I highly recommend this book if your are a fan of medieval romance!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sexy Hero, but Emotionally Hysterical Heroine - Too bad. Oct. 20 2011
By Suzy Q-ed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am surprised to say that to me, this latest installment of the Highland Guard Series was just an average read. I was very excited to read The Viper because in the predecessor books, this character seemed very mysterious, arrogant, cynical and devilishly alluring. He did live up to these qualities and much more. I absolutely loved this character! He is everything above superior in such an elite warrior.

However, I did not like his matched heroine. She came across as too impulsive, flat boring and emotionally hysterical to me. You would think that after being held captive for about four years suspended in a cage above a castle she would learn to be more careful with not only the life of those around her, and especially our wonderfully acclaimed hero, but with hers as well; she makes too many careless mistakes and endangers so many lives on reckless impulses. Her story about wanting to reunite with her daughter, or get one glimpse of her daughter went on and on and her always being blackmailed with the chance to meet said daughter should she cooperate with her jailers, and ultimately the Comyn side of the rebellion was just too dragging and tediously repetitious. I found myself having to skim the pages with a great big sigh and "oh no, here we go again with our heroine going all out emotionally crazed and all over the place." With this being said, I truly felt that this couple was a complete mismatch.

Finally, I felt that this book lacked a bit of its own personality and uniqueness because our hero is caught and held captive towards the latter part of the book and pretty much mistreated in the same manner as the hero in the predecessor book, The Ranger. As much as I want to imagine these heroes being held captive in a dark cave/hole while completely stripped of their clothing and then escaping because their fellow Highland Guard members manage to disobey their king (Robert the Bruce) to get one of their own out of captivity is truly suspenseful, I really don't want the same captivity and rescue style repeating into another book. Surely Monica McCarty is much cleverer than this and why I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she must have been truly rushed by her editors into meeting a published deadline.

So, Monica McCarty will still remain being one of my favorite Highland Historical Romance authors and from having read the excerpt from the next book (I truly appreciate these as well as the author's historical research notes) in this series, am truly excited and anticipating its release (The Saint). However, I do hope that its hero will be beyond average and should he end up being captured by the enemy will not end up being stripped naked and thrown into a cave/hole like his other two colleagues; I rather he is stripped naked in a much more creative style and scene.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating heroine ruins the plot of this story Nov. 12 2011
By A - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was well written, and the historical details were great. Unfortunately, as others have already explained so well, the heroine, Bella, is just so stubborn and reckless in her goal to reunite with her daughter that she repeatedly endangers everyone, including her daughter, the hero, and the entire highland guard. The daughter is living in relative safety and comfort in England, while her mother flees across Scotland with Bruce and his guard. Considering that capture means torture and the possibility of betraying your comrades followed by a very public and gruesome punishment or execution, her actions and demands fell into the category of too-stupid-to-live. Her persistence in this behavior constitutes a serious fault in the plot of the story, and ruins what otherwise could have been a good book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Hero~Selfish, spoiled shallow heroine Oct. 31 2011
By C. Dingus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I must say that I have absolutely LOVED Monica McCarty's writing and her use of real historical events in her series. It gives her books authenticity and makes me feel as if I have traveled back into the Highlands. She is incredibly talented and I have looked forward to this book since I finished the last one in this series. However, I felt a little let down by this book.

First, the hero was great. I felt his character was believable and consistent and stayed true to himself throughout the story. Strong and silent, dependable and loyal. Who doesn't like a strong, silent bad boy? Although he was, at times, cruel and uncaring in his words, his story and his history gave the reader the ability to identify with him and understand that his lashing out was used to keep people out emotionally and could feel empathy for him. I felt he was the best part of the book. I loved him. The emotional strain between Lachlan and Bella when they at last reach the King, and Lachlan's return for his reward, felt real and pulled at my heart. You could feel the torture of the characters as if it were real. That section of the book made me want to keep reading.

Unfortunately, the heroine at turns made me want to leave her to the enemy, pitch her off her horse or throw her from the wall of the castle myself. Her complete lack of concern for others, including the man she claimed to care for and respect, made me unable to like or feel empathy for her no matter how she was treated. I felt she got only a fraction of what she deserved from the English for her horrible treatment of everyone in her life. Bella judges the hero by rumors before she ever even speaks with him; treats him as if he is dirt under her boot, then cries about his poor treatment of her. She wants him to continually risk his life, and that of all of his men, in impossible missions so she can have five minutes with her daughter. He agrees to go against the King to get a message to her daughter in the village after her cousins wedding because she swears that is all she needs to be happy. Then she risks everyone's safety because that isn't, after all, what she wants. Now that she is that close, she must SEE her daughter. Oh, then she must LET HER DAUGHTER KNOW SHE IS THERE and risks the life of all the men involved in helping her escape. She cares nothing for anyone around her and what they risk simply trying to help her. She comes across as stupid, selfish and shallow. Stupid, by allowing her jailers to use her daughter as a reward she never receives, while still falling for it time and again. Selfish by constantly asking Lachlan to risk his own life to help her and not being able to keep her word even one time when he risks everything for her. Shallow by judging him for what she sees as his faults without knowing anything about his story. In her mind, the fact that he will not do what she wants every minute shows that he has no feelings or loyalty to anyone. I seriously hated her. I failed to see why any man would want to spend the rest of his life with someone like her.

The story was a good one. The heroine could have made this story one of the best I have ever read, but I just could not stand the constant whining and blame and selfishness she spewed. For someone who did something so brave for her country, she should have been strong and smart and savvy. She was anything but. The emotional intensity between the hero and heroine were well written and charged with emotions. I am sad that I just could not stand the heroine. McCarty is so talented, but I have disliked several of the heroines in this series and I wish she would make one strong and smart instead of stubborn and immature.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Riviting Hero - Childish, Selfish, Know-It-All Heroine Nov. 12 2011
By C. Singleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Let me begin by saying that overall, I really enjoy the Highland Guard Series. I have read them all (in order) and I've pre-ordered the next book, The Saint: A Highland Guard Novel. The series concept is very refreshing.

I just finished reading The Viper, about 20 minutes ago and I have never been so glad to be finished with a book! Don't get me wrong. It's not that I didn't like the book. The problem was that it went on about 100 pages too long - see more about that at the end of my review. I agree with both of the reviews by C. Dingus and Suzette De Armas.

From the first book in the series,The Chief: A Highland Guard Novel (Highland Guard Novels), I was intrigued by the character of Viper (Lachlan) - tall, dark, brooding, and dangerous! In fact, the characters of all the heroes have been "fleshed out" well. ;) I've even found something about all of the heroines that I could relate to...until Bella. At first, I admired Bella for her loyalty to Robert the Bruce but as the story wore (and I do mean wore!), I was ready to lock Bella in a cage and wall it up!

For me, the problem is with the Bella character. I found her to be very inconsistent, as opposed to the characters of the heroes. Despite having no "inside" info of her own, she always thought she knew better than everyone else, meaning the intelligence the Guard was receiving. No matter what plan they came up with, it seemed that she just couldn't do it that way. Can we say, "immediate gratification" and selfish? For someone who professed to care, Bella didn't mind how many times her stupid decisions and actions brought the members of the Guard within a hair's breadth of being drawn and quartered, but only after being tortured.

As someone else said, it sort of seems that Monica McCarty was rushed to finish the book or came up short on the number of pages that were required to be written. Either way, in my opinion, The Viper should have been one of the most sizzling, interesting books out of the bunch but unfortunately because of Bella, the story just fizzled.

Now, having said all of that, would I buy it again or recommend it? The answer is YES but simply because you learn a lot more about Lachlan (Viper). It becomes crystal clear why Lachlan behaves and reacts as he does in the other books. You also get a reminder that outward appearances aren't always a true reflection of a character's (or person's) true self. Besides that, if you're planning to get the whole series, your collection just wouldn't be complete without The Viper. ;)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not all rainbows and sparkles Oct. 18 2011
By Escape Artist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I can't say enough about this series and how much I like Ms. McCarty's style. I like how she dialogues with actual historical events and tells you how they inspired her stories and characters (even they are hugely different). She makes the setting feel authentic (whether or not it actually is) and the famous background characters make the series feel incredibly epic. I also find it admirable that she is able to satisfactorily end stories in a believably happy manner. I mean, a 70-90% happy ending is much more genuine and fulfilling to me than a 100% happy ending, even if it is escapist literature.

"The Viper" is your classic jaded distant bad-boy meets spirited, principled, and optimistic woman. I really enjoyed watching their relationship unfold layer after layer over the course of years instead of the usual day, week, or month-long courtships that romance novels usually stick to. I relish McCarty's rich and complex characters and her devotion to both the male and female protagonist perspectives over the course of the novel. I am especially impressed with the strength of McCarty's female characters and their ability to not whine/become hysterical in certain moments/confrontations. Bella MacDuff is without a doubt in my top 2 for rock-awesome heroines in this series so far.
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