My Rating: 4/5
Author: Laurin Wittig
Title: Highlander Betrayed (Guardians of the Targe)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Hidden deep in the rugged Scottish Highlands lies the Highland Targe, an ancient relic guarded for centuries by clan MacAlpin. It is said the Targe can shield the heart of the Highlands from invaders and now, as part of his plan to crush the Scottish rebellion, the English king wants the Targe for himself…
Rowan MacGregor, orphaned niece to the chief of the MacAlpins and the rock her family depends upon, is worried. With the dwindling health of her aunt, the Guardian of the Targe, the protections that have kept the clan safe and prosperous are fading, and the new Guardian, one of her cousins, has yet to be chosen. Rowan wants nothing more than to see the clan protected again, but when it seems that will never happen, she despairs—even when a handsome and charming stranger comes to her aid.
Nicholas fitz Hugh is not what he seems. Half-English, half-Scottish, he turned his back on his Scottish heritage early in his life, giving his loyalty to England instead. Now he is a talented and cunning spy charged with finding and stealing the Highland Targe for his king.
But when Nicholas finds himself falling for the bonny Rowan and wanting to protect the family she holds so dear, he is forced to choose between his king’s will and his own: Will he betray his king and his mission? Or will he turn his back on the woman he has come to love?
Highlander Betrayed is a story of an English spy, Nicholas, who seeks out Scotland’s Targe (“a shield”) for King Edward. Nicholas’s father was English who forced himself on a Scottish woman. Nicholas grew up for 12 years in Scotland before he left to live with his father. Nicholas eventually becomes the most trustworthy and successful spy for King Edward. When King Edward wants to conquer Scotland, he sends Nicholas to retrieve the Targe – a shield that Scotsmen believe protects Scotland from invaders. With it, King Edward believes that he will be successful in his conquest. All does not go as planned. While staking out the MacAlpin’s castle – where rumor has it that the Targe is hidden, Nicholas veers off course rescuing the ladies of the castle from an accident. Now he must prove his worth if he is to learn where the Targe is hidden. However, Rowan (the Chief’s orphaned niece) throws Nicholas off even further – for Nicholas starts to fall in love with her. Nicholas must decide if he should trust his heart or loyalty to the king.
The story is written in third person, mainly following Nicholas and Rowan. Each has had a rough childhood. Nicholas’s mother could no longer look at her son as he grew to look like the man that had raped her. His father was a cruel man, but Nicholas prevailed and became successful in King Edward’s court. Rowan’s parents died when she was young. She doesn’t at first remember what happened, but we learn about it later in the book. She is a strong person that takes care of her family – especially her aunt that is dying. When the two meet, there is an instant attraction. However, Nicholas is a stranger in the clan’s land. On the other hand, he helped rescue Rowan and her cousin. Eventually his secret of being a spy will surface along with the Targe. But what will happen to the potential two lovers? Who will Nicholas betray? And, how will he escape the repercussions of his choices?
The plot moved a long well. The mystery around the Targe is slowly revealed. Also, the reader knows eventually the clan will find out about Nicholas’s job, so that part is not surprising. There is a little magic (Scottish lore) involved with the Targe and those surrounding it. Although not a paranormal read, I like this part of the story. The bad guy(s) was/were fairly one-dimensional though. It would have been interesting if the one person had a little more conflict with the events.
Overall, it was a good read. If you like historical Scottish romances with a little lore, then you might like this book.