HIGHLAND MASTER - Amanda Scott
The Scottish Knights Trilogy, Book 1
Grand Central's Forever
The Scottish Highlands, 1401
She probably shouldn't be wandering the forest on her own—her father and brothers would certainly take her to task for it if they were at home—but she has her wolf dog Boreas to alert and protect her. Besides, she has her dirk with her, and she knows how to use it. Lady Catriona isn't known as the Mackintosh Wildcat for nothing. Still, the dog and her woods craft are both telling her something is amiss, though not particularly dangerous. She proceeds cautiously and comes upon a man lying facedown in a pool of blood. When Boreas brings her a spent arrow with blood still tacky on it, she understands what must have happened. As the man is lying on her family land, she does what she can to clean his wound and helps him to the castle.
Nearly five years ago, Sir Finlagh Cameron took part in a trial by combat ordered by the king to settle the feud between the Mackintoshes and the Camerons. The thirty champions from each side swore an oath to abide by the outcome. Before Fin's father died in his arms during the battle, he made Fin swear an oath to take vengeance on the Mackintosh war leader. Fin became the sole survivor on his side and he threw himself into the rapid river rather than fight on. I won't give a spoiler by saying why, only that it didn't occur to him at the time that some might think it cowardly. But I will cut to the chase to say that the man he swore to wreak vengeance upon is Catriona's father, Shaw Mackintosh. Fin has not come to the area for that reason, however. He's still conflicted over having sworn two contradictory oaths. He hasn't even gone home since the battle but has been in service with Davy Stewart, Duke of Rothesay, heir to the throne of Scotland and the present Governor of the Realm. It is on business for Rothesay that Fin—who only gives his name as Fin of the Battles—travels in the area. Shaw is not in residence, but the man Fin seeks is, Catriona's grandfather, the Mackintosh.
If you like conflicted heroes and the feisty heroines who add to their conflict, you will love Fin of the Battles and the Mackintosh Wildcat.
Amanda Scott has an uncanny knack of picking up her readers and plunking them down right in the middle of her storyworld. The physical settings, the tenor of the times, the characters, the language, and the political and family tensions, all present an unmatched air of authenticity to her work. I like the way Ms. Scott lets readers in on some of the inspiration for her stories and that real people and events are included in her novels. (There is also a quick preview of the next in the series, HIGHLAND HERO, coming out in October next.)
HIGHLAND MASTER is an eminently satisfying read.