Amy Jarecki has done it again — wrapped a beautiful love story into historical fiction. In this action-packed third installment of the Lords of the Highlands series, The Highland Guardian, Captain Reid McKenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth, becomes the guardian of his friend and co-conspirator, Nicholas Kennet’s daughter, Audrey. Nicholas is killed by English dragoons who sent cannonballs into Reid’s ship. The story was based on William McKenzie, the real 5th earl, and his friend, the widower, Nicholas Kennet, and his only child, Mary Kennet, who married the real-life 5th earl.
Reid expects to find a child as his ward. Needing to hurry home to organize the highland clans, he intends to send her to the finest boarding school, but Audrey is no child. She is a gorgeous and shy yet feisty 19-year-old woman. This was a time when women could not inherit property, hence the need for a guardian.
Like the first two books in the series, this one is set against the backdrop of the Jacobite Rebellion. Reid needs to settle Audrey’s accounts, and return to his duties in the effort to convince Queen Anne to name her half-brother King James of Scotland as her successor to the throne of England. Reid is charged with uniting the clans, and organizing them for “the cause”. These were dangerous times, when one’s opinion of the government must be kept under wraps; a time when there was no such thing as a free press. It was agreed that the clans would be peaceful until the death of the queen.
Because Audrey is female, she must be married, or there must be a search for a male relative to handle her affairs. Enter her nefarious and penniless half-cousin, the illegitimate son of her deceased uncle, along with a less-than-honest probate attorney. With all these life-like characters, the pace of the story quickens. I always hate for these stories to end. I want to know how their lives went on after the immediate danger had passed. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love The Highland Guardian.