A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Ghost- A Highland Guard Novel- by Monica McCarty- Feature and Review + Giveaway


An undercover warrior and her sworn enemy play a seductive game of cat-and-mouse in New York Times bestselling author Monica McCarty’s sexy new Highland Guard novel.

Joan Comyn swore allegiance to Robert the Bruce the day she witnessed England’s barbarous king torturing her famous mother, Scot patriot Bella MacDuff. Now the mysterious beauty slips into men’s hearts like a specter and entices England’s most illustrious barons to unwittingly divulge their secrets, then shares them with her king. Known only as the Ghost even among her Highland Guard brethren, Joan has become the most wanted traitor in England.

The man determined to uncover her identity poses her biggest threat yet. Alex Seton once stood with Bruce but now fights for the enemy. Though Joan knows she must avoid the handsome warrior or risk discovery, his knightly chivalry touches a place in her long since buried. When his suspicions grow apparent, Joan realizes she must do everything in her power to stop Alex from revealing her mission and convince the powerful fighter to join forces with the Highland Guard once more. But as the ultimate battle in the great war approaches, will Alex choose love or honor?



The Ghost (Highland Guard, #12)The Ghost by Monica McCarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Ghost by Monica McCarty is a 2016 Pocket Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I have had this book for a little while, but I’ve put off reading it because it is the final book in the “Highland Guard’ series, and I really hate to see this series end.

This twelfth installment features Joan Cromyn, a spy for the Scots, living in England with her cousins after she is stripped of her inheritance. She does her job so well, she had been dubbed, “The Ghost.”

Alex Seton was once in the guard, loyal to Bruce, but the war has dragged on for so long, he lost faith, believing that unless he could convince the English to work on a truce, the war would never end. To that end, Alex switches sides, hoping to find a way to end the war.

He has been commissioned to flush out the ‘The Ghost’, but he never anticipated running into Joan, Bella MacDuff’s beautiful daughter. He is shocked at how he reacts to Joan, but of course the couple can never have a life together, because her step-father would never allow her to marry a traitor. Can Joan convince Alex to rejoin ‘The Guard’, and fight once more for his own country?

Alex is perhaps the gentlest member of ‘The Guard’, and melted my heart. He is known for his gallantry and is teasingly referred to as “Sir Galahad”. What he tries to do here is something that has happened in all wars, when weariness settles in and no solution seems forthcoming. However, the English are just as mulish and he soon finds his heart and loyalties are torn more than ever before.

Joan, is an outstanding spy, and her boldness has only grown over time. But, it’s possible she is being watched and could be in grave danger. But, falling in love with Alex was never her intention, and it certainly complicates matters for her. What will Alex think if he ever discovers the truth?

I really enjoyed this last installment as it has a sentimental tone to it. The story highlights the strain and long term agony of war, and the toll it takes, but was also one of the most romantic and sensual stories of the series. I think Joan helped Alex find his way back, and Alex proved to Joan that there really are good, honorable men in this world.

I will really will miss this series. It is one of the very few that actually incorporated authentic historical detail, proving that historical accuracy enhances the romantic elements, and paints a realistic depiction of medieval days, the harshness of war, the grand love affairs, and the intense passions of the Scottish people.

Overall, the series closes on a high note with a special happily ever after.




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What do you get when you mix a legal career, a baseball career, motherhood, and a love of history with a voracious reader? In my case, a Historical Romance Author.

Like most writers, I’ve always loved to read. Growing up in California there was always plenty to do outside, but all too often I could be found inside curled up with a book (or two or three). I started with the usual fare: The Little House on the Prairie series, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, Watership Down, Nancy Drew, and everything by Judy Blume. Once I cleared off my bookshelf, I started swiping books from my mom. Some, like Sidney Sheldon’s The Other Side of Midnight, probably weren’t the most appropriate choice for a pre-adolescent—although they were definitely illuminating. I can still remember the look of abject horror on my mom’s Catholic-girl-face when I asked her what a virgin was. After that rather brief conversation, she paid a little closer attention to what had disappeared off her book shelf, and steered me in the direction of Harlequin and Barbara Cartland romances. I was hooked. I quickly read through the inventory of the local library and was soon buying bags of romances at garage sales.

In high school, with the encouragement of my father (who I think was a little concerned about the steady diet of romances), I read over eighty of the Franklin Library’s One Hundred Greatest Books ever written—including Tolstoy, Confucius, Plato, and the entire works of Shakespeare. Some of them were tough going for a teenager, but the experience would prove an invaluable foundation for college. After reading War and Peace, I wasn’t easily intimidated.

For some reason Monica decided to go into writing and not fashion.

After graduation, I loaded up the VW (Jetta not Bus) and trekked down I-5 to attend the University of Southern California, majoring in Political Science and minoring in English (see why all that reading helped!). I joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and when I wasn’t studying or at football games, did my best to support the local bartending industry. Ah, the good old days.

With that kind of fun, four years of college wasn’t quite enough. So leaving Tommy Trojan behind, I traveled back up north to Palo Alto for three more years of study at Stanford Law School. Once I survived the stress of the first semester, law school proved to be one of the best times of my life—garnering me a JD, life-long friends, a husband, and an unexpectedly intimate knowledge of baseball. (See “The Baseball Odyssey” below).

Law School was also where I fell in love with Scotland. In my third year, I took a Comparative Legal History class, and wrote a paper on the Scottish Clan System and Feudalism. So I immediately dropped out of law school and went on to write Scottish Historical Romances…well no, not quite. You see, I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. My father was a lawyer, I was a “poet” (i.e., not into math), and I love to argue. It seemed natural.

So I finished law school, got married, passed the CA bar, moved to Minnesota (with a few stops along the way), waived into the MN bar, worked as a litigator for a few satisfying years, moved back to CA, had a couple of kids, realized that a legal career and being a single parent for most of the year (due to husband's career) would be extremely difficult, and THEN decided to sit down and write.

And how did I end up writing romance? It’s not as divergent as it seems. What I loved about being a lawyer are the same things I love about being a writer—research and writing. The only thing missing is the arguing, but that’s what a husband and kids are for, right?

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