I can’t help myself; I judge a book first by its hero. I need me a yummy alpha male and McCarty delivers it in Erik MacSorley, otherwise known as the Hawk. He is half-Viking/half-Highlander, deliciously yummy and another of Robert Bruce's elite Highland Guard. Erik is fun, cocky with enough skill to back the bravado, and always has a snarky remark and quick come-back. He is used to attracting his fair amount of attention from the lasses and flirts as a hobby.
This is where the story gets fun. Since most women fall for Erik’s charms, and rightfully so, he has no idea what to do when Ellie does not swoon over him. In fact, during Ellie's captivity she gets to Erik like no other lass has before. The interplay between them is charming, the dialogue well-written – I melted every time they interacted – and their first kiss is crazy delicious. The sexual tension builds at a steady rate as consummate bachelor Erik falls for a lass not his standard type.
Portrayed as simple and just mildly pretty, Ellie stole my allegiance instantly. Any average woman could easily identify with her. She is strong enough to hold her own against the bigger-than-life Hawk. Ellie might be innocent but she didn’t appear naïve. She is a dichotomy – both strong and intelligent while being insecure at the same time, mostly due to her belief she has inferior beauty. Only second best to a strong hero is an equally strong heroine and McCarty delivers.
The quirk in The Hawk’s storyline is that for much of the book, neither Erik nor Ellie divulge their truest identities. Ellie is actually Lady Elyne de Burgh, daughter to the most powerful Earl in Ireland, both loyal to King Edward and father-in-law to Robert Bruce. Ellie lets him believe she is a simple nursemaid while Erik lets her believe he's a dangerous pirate. While Ellie hides her identity from Erik at first for her safety, even after they are intimate she still doesn't share her identity because she is worried his feelings for her will change. It tore me up (yep, there were some tears involved… another of those confessions since I’m the one in the group that doesn’t cry from books!) that she couldn’t believe this amazingly yummy man could actually care for her just for herself and not because of her title or dowry. These misperceptions are woven seamlessly into the storyline and capitalize on the drama, tension and intrigue.
I was swept into the complicated path of Erik and Ellie's love story and absolutely adored them. While frustrated with Erik's reluctance to acknowledge his feelings (typical male), this same style McCarty showed in The Chief to drag out the initial acceptance of love does make for a suspenseful read. This Highlander series rivals Karen Marie Moning. I give The Hawk five chocolate dipped strawberries served with a kilt on the side. Savor this one, ladies.