Duncan Campbell is a natural born leader, possessing all the attributes for a Highland chieftain except for one: legitimacy. Forced from the Highlands for a crime he didn’t commit, Duncan has earned a reputation as the fiercest, most skilled mercenary on the continent. Vowing to restore his name and clear the cloud of treason hanging over his head, Duncan returns to the Highlands to find the one person who might hold the key to his freedom: the woman he’d once loved who’d betrayed him. But when he surprises her swimming in a loch, he finds himself facing the bad end of a pistol.
Told she was impulsive her whole life like her mother who’d destroyed their family when she’d run off with an Englishman over twenty years ago, Jeannie Grant had never believed it—until she met Duncan Campbell. The bastard born son of a chieftain was not a suitable husband for the daughter of a powerful Highland chief, but Duncan made Jeannie willing to risk everything. She gave him her innocence and he failed her, forcing Jeannie to learn the hard way what happens when you follow your heart. Now Jeannie is shocked to find that the brigand she’s shot is the same man who broke her heart all those years ago. But the hard, ruthless man is nothing like the charming young scoundrel she remembers. When their attempt to prove Duncan’s innocence uncovers a deadly secret, not only their lost love, but their lives hang in the balance.
After ten years of exile for a crime he didn’t commit Duncan Campbell has returned to the Highlands, his homeland. He is back to clear his name and claim his woman. Jeannie Grant’s betrayal still stings and he’s back to use her as a means to an end. 10 years ago Duncan was sent to court by his father to ensure Grant’s support in joining forces against the Earl of Huntly, the Campell’s and King James’ enemy. When he sets eye on Grant’s daughter he is lost and they fall in love, but treachery, political intrigues and secret alliances drives them apart and 10 years later Jeannie and Duncan both have a bone to pick with each other. She believes he abandoned her and her love for him. He believes she betrayed him.
Jeannie Grant is sensible, compassionate and headstrong. She’s a pistol-wielding lass, no longer prone to impulsivity since it got her into a lot of trouble when she was younger. She is a vibrant and spirited heroine despite her attempts to control her impulsivity.
Duncan Campbell is the eldest and bastard son of the Campbell siblings, dubbed the Black Highlander. He is in control, noble and proud but also focused, steely and ambitious. Duncan has asserted control over every aspect of his life but only Jeannie has the power to make him lose that control.
HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL starts in the present 1608 (chapter 1) and then chapter 2 takes us back to the events 10 years earlier that led to the animosity between Jeannie and Duncan that dominates the present which is told from chapter 9 and onward.
It had been a while since I read a McCarty book because I was a bit disappointed by the start of this trilogy, so I was a bit hesitant in starting the most recent and last one in the trilogy. I was partly right in my reluctance because much to my regret, this third installment of the Campbell trilogy was not able to do for me what the third book of the McLeod trilogy was able to do. It started out great, explosively emotional and very promising but a few chapters into the flashback to 10 years earlier my excitement started dying down a bit and I found myself drifting away during these chapters. Despite the lovely and hot love scene, that part of the book somehow couldn’t hold my attention.
I missed the Highlander “magic” in this book that I did find in McCarty’s first trilogy which I found much more impressive. As I stated in a previous review (I think it was book 1), save for the specific historical setting and the clan politics it didn’t really feel as much like a Highlander romance as the books in the first trilogy did. For me it could’ve been set in any other historical background.
That being said still the book read like clockwork. Especially after the flashback part, when it became more fast-paced and before I knew it I was at the end of another tale of betrayal, trust, raw passion, loyalty, duty and secrets. Monica McCarty writes Highland and Clan politics like no other author I’ve read. She has a way of setting up a back-drop that is sometimes even more enthralling than the characters she places in them and that’s what made this book very readable despite my misgivings about the pace and the way of telling the story of Duncan and Jeannie. Upon concluding this trilogy I must be honest in my opinion that for me it didn’t quite reach the level of the McLeod trilogy. I could not find the attention-grabbing magical writing and characters of that trilogy in this one. However I am still very much looking forward to Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series, which starts off with THE CHIEF (March, 23rd).
It was something in the tilt of her eyes, in the curve of her lush mouth, and in the ripe sensuality of her body that spoke to a man of one thing: swivving. And not just any swivving, but gritty, mind-blowing, come-until-you-pass-out kind of swivving.
It was too soon, but he found himself asking, “Marry me.” His heart, his breath, everything stopped as he waited for an answer, a sign…
The balance of his life seemed poised on an edge, waiting to tumble or soar at her decision.
The heavy warmth of desire spread through her body. It was a woman’s desire. Desire forged in the fires of heartbreak and disappointment and made stronger by experience.
Rating: 6.8 out of 10