Margaret MacDowell is about to wed an Englishman in 1313. But a figure steps forward to halt the ceremony: her husband, Eoin MacLean, the titular “Striker” of Robert the Bruce’s secret Highland Guard force, whom she had thought dead. A long flashback to 1305 then shows how the couple reached this point. Mistrust keeps the reunited couple apart emotionally. Eoin believes Maggie betrayed the presence of Bruce’s forces, causing the deaths of many of his colleagues. And their son, Eachann, has been brought up by Maggie’s family to believe his father is a traitor. Will the three be able to overcome mistrust and hate amid the turmoil of the Wars of Scottish Independence?
McCarty includes more history than the superficial levels sometimes encountered in historical romances. The plot inspired me to look up more information about the conflict. The author’s note is particularly interesting, explaining which historical figures she used as models, and giving additional history not covered in the story. McCarty also provides complex characters: Eoin and Maggie have more sides to them than just being a couple to hang torrid bedroom scenes on. The Striker is a superior historical romance, from a series of 12 volumes about the Highland Guard.