I cherish my Monica McCarty books. Especially my Highland Guard ones. Every single one has an element of real Scottish and English history, and yet, it’s mixed so well with fictional narratives of a love story we all wish had really happened. The passion exuding from every page was heart wrenching (to me, at least). And I, honestly, couldn’t help but think, “What if those same events happened to me? Or in modern times? Would I react the same way?”
Fact: Ms. McCarty’s characters are not all lovable. Most of them seem painfully real. Human. Extremely flawed, but surprisingly, not annoying (again, to me, at least). I often wondered, in the course of reading “The Striker,” if I would ever forgive and forget the same way these fictional characters did. At a time of strife, war, and pure uncertainty, could love conquer all?
Bah. Who cares?! All I can say is: “The Striker” heroine, Margaret “Maggie” McDowell, was a Juliet who didn’t attempt suicide, but who instead was impatient, impetuous, coy, strong, and stubborn. At times, I even thought her stupid. Ironically, I also thought she was right. Hence, very human. Her incessant pleading with her husband, Eoin “Striker” MacLean to take her away from his family home seemed bratty and exasperating. She, however, had a very legitimate reason: his family and his lifelong friend treated her like shit. A year of feeling like you’re worthless (and a whore) can be a downer, to say the very least. However, Margaret’s betrayal of Eoin that caused a huge, tragic loss to Eoin and his compatriots’ cause was – in a word – devastating. There was even a moment that I wanted to stop reading this book because Margaret was pinning her egregious mistake on Eoin, who had kept his being part of Robert The Bruce’s elite guard from his wife. I thought this was emphatically idiotic of her, as Eoin had told her not tell anyone of his presence, for it was a matter of life and death. Then, what did she do? She told someone. Ergo, human. And………. imbecilic.
I wiffed and waffed also on my opinion of Eoin. On one hand, he was loyal, brutish, young (too young, in the beginning of the book), too idealistic, and confused (also in the beginning of his relationship with Maggie). He also had no control over his lust over his wife. That’s how they got into trouble in the first place. His Romeo to her Juliet inadvertently spun an ongoing civil war erratically off its distorted rails. Together, they made mistake after mistake after mistake. In the end, though, their love conquered and persevered. So, yes, I really liked “The Striker” and I hope the next one in this series is just as mind-numbingly good, emotionally heavy, mentally exhausting… or, perhaps, even better.