Highland Outlaw (Campbell Trilogy #2)

Highland Outlaw - Monica McCarty When I saw the blurb about this book meant that the Hero was a MacGregor and the Heroine a Campbell (and Jamie Campbell's sister, Elizabeth!), I was intrigued. After the set up in the first book, I wondered how that would be possible. And I wondered if this series was all about star-crossed lovers or enemies as lovers theme, which I found out it is.Patrick MacGregor is one of the outlawed MacGregors, forced from their lands and clan by King James' vengeance for some particularly brutal massacres that the MacGregors were supposed to be behind. Whether or not it's true depends upon whom you talk to; history isn't clear (I looked it up), but then history is also usually written by the victor. It's true that the MacGregor clan, name, and tartan were outlawed, but it's unclear if they deserved any more censure than any other clan; mostly they simply fell on the wrong side of those in power.So the MacGregors are "broken" men - men without a true clan or laird. Patrick witnessed his father's and mother's brutal deaths; he and his brother Gregor and their clansmen have been on the run since Patrick was only 10. Patrick's uncle Alasdair is the most sought-after MacGregor; but Alasdair has talked King Jame's out of banishment and hanging before. Unfortunately, from the 1st book, we know that's not the case this time. The Earl of Argyll intentionally uses the letter of the law where an agreement is concerned, only setting Alasdair's feet on English soil before yanking him back and hanging him and 25 of his men from the cross-roads.When we meet Patrick, he and his brother have accompanied a clansman to some Highland Games, where the clansman will show off his archery skills. Patrick and Gregor will keep watch and create a diversion, so that they can all get away safely. But Patrick overhears a particularly crass conversation between some men, discussing one of the men's intended bride in gross and mocking terms. And Patrick witnesses that intended bride overhear, too, and then slip in the mud, landing on her backside. Rather than rushing to her aid, her fiancee simply laughs with his friends. Incensed, Patrick rushes to her aid and is taken in by her beauty and humility... and empathizes with her embarrassment. Patrick helps her up, almost losing the chance to get away. Who is the intended? Elizabeth Campbell, of course - the cousin of the Earl of Argyll and the sister of Jamie Campbell, the earl's Enforcer, determined to capture all MacGregors.Fast forward in time... In book 1, Jamie thought his sister had been kidnapped, so he left Caitrina and her people to find his sister. In this book, we learn that Patrick and his brother Gregor are part of that plan. Except that Gregor and most of their clansmen will attempt to attack the carriage that Elizabeth is in, so Patrick and his men can ride to their rescue, thus endearing themselves and securing places as part of Elizabeth's guardsmen. Then Patrick plans to seduce Elizabeth, who's already had 3 failed engagements; Patrick will convince Elizabeth to run away with him and elope, and by marriage, he'll regain part of his family's lands and money through her dowry. But he has to accomplish all of this in a way that secures the dowry so that it can't be ripped away when his real identity is revealed.There's a deep-seated hatred for the Campbells and all who benefited from his family's deaths and the loss of their lands. But Patrick is, of course, drawn to Elizabeth and she to him. The question is never will she find out, it's when and how. Gregor is feral and fierce; his time of living from the land, watching his people and men starve, and being an outlaw have stripped away any feelings other than revenge and anger. Which eventually pits Patrick against his own brother.Can love overcome? And even if Elizabeth does elope with Patrick, what kind of life will they have? How will any type of happily ever after occur?--------------------Surprised the heck out of me! Again, a story that could have so easily taken the usual or safe route did not. It was a full-blown story with rich characters and situations that walked the fine line between predictable and completely surprising. The way that the predictable parts of the story resolve is what's surprising - yes, you might know what's coming or what's eventually coming, but the way in which it happens and how those involved react is not as predictable as you thought. And that's both intriguing and compelling.The author allows us into the minds of her main characters - to see the depths of emotion and the events that caused them to think and act as they do. Yes, it's a love story, and based on the 1st book you *think* that love will conquer all... but you literally have to wait until the last pages of the book to find out. Because true love is not selfish - it wants what's best for whom it loves, even if that means walking away... or does it?