The first time he caught sight of Elizabeth Douglas, Thomas MacGowan thought she was a princess. To the son of the castle blacksmith, the daughter of the powerful Lord of Douglas might as well be. When it becomes clear that his childhood companion will never see him as a man she could love, Thom joins Edward Bruce’s army as a man-at-arms to try to change his lot. If he’s harbored a secret hope that he could close the gap between them, he faces the cold, hard truth when Elizabeth comes to him for help. She might need the boy who used to climb cliffs to rescue her brother from the hands of the English, but she would never see the son of a smith as a man worthy of her hand.
Thom is the most caring and noble male I think Ms McCarty has ever written and trust me, that is saying an awful lot! He may be low born but has aspirations and ambition that truly rival the most noble in the land. He has always loved the Laird's daughter, Elizabeth, but she just never saw him as he really is. Well that's not quite true as Thom is her best friend, most faithful ally, and fervent confident but life and war pulls the young friends apart.
Fast forward a few years and Thom is making a name for himself in Bruce's army, determined to become a knight. Thom is so close to fulfilling his ambitions in spite of prejudice when who should return to his life but the one lassie with the power to send him to his knees. Elizabeth remembers all of Thom’s strengths and his remarkable climbing skills could help save someone she loves, but will he want to help without incentive? Plus what will he do when he learns that not only does Elizabeth not see him as a suitor but she just might see someone else as far more worthy!
Elizabeth was so blinkered that I really wanted to shake her at times. I do understand The Rock is written about a time when class and alliances meant everything. Yes, Elizabeth has a duty to her clan but she felt weak and materialistic at times. Afraid of poverty and yet unafraid to face anything else, yes a completely bewildering character. Thom from the start realises and accepts his feelings but as the story unfolds he doesn't have to let her feel cornered and trapped by her station. One minute Thom loves Elizabeth and then the next he raises barriers that push her far, far away. Such burning passion between them (sorry no way could I describe it as simmering!) and yet the author doesn't rush the couple, but lets them make mistakes until their choices finally catch up with them.
It was fun seeing this side of the Douglas clan and just how they fit around the Highland Guard. Of course, Thom impresses with his natural abilities and seeing him come into his own was a heartwarming journey. A surprising turn from Bruce's nephew who really has hidden depths but sorry I can say no more about his role! Fans of history will enjoy the unique spin Ms McCarty puts on it but those seeking a story rife with romance and adventure will not be disappointed either. I've really enjoyed this series and can't wait to see what happens next
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.