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MacKinnon's Rangers, #2

Born of Viking blood, they learned Honor and Loyalty as the stripling warrior sons of a Highland Chieftain; Courage and Faith when exiled to the Americas after the Jacobite fall at Culloden; Survival and Friendship as they became men in the bosom of the Stockbridge Indians. And when pressed into service, during the French and Indian War, by the grandson of that same Hanoverian King who killed their Grandfather in the Jacobite uprising, they learned Strength and Perseverance. They formed a brotherhood, a band of warriors skilled in woodcraft and battle. They became MacKinnon’s Rangers, laying the foundation of today’s Army Rangers.

Amelie Chevaunt is a convent raised French-Abanaki living at Ticonderoga with her Father, a French officer. Her mother died in child birth when she was two and this is the first time she’s lived with her father, the first time she’s belonged. But when the fort is attacked by British soldiers, she loses her father to a Ranger’s bullet and in turn learns to hate the men that took away the only thing that mattered to her.

Morgan MacKinnon is a man of lore and legend among the French and Abanaki. They claim he is Chi bai, a spirit, for surely no mortal could accomplish what a MacKinnon’s Ranger can. With Ian – see Surrender the first book in Pamela Clare’s Mackinnon’s Rangers series – released from service, Morgan is now in command and they’re about to make the French miserable by blowing up their shipment of gun powder. Only it’s a trap, realized too late, and when Morgan rushes in to save one of his men – because that No Man Left Behind code of our modern day Army Rangers began with these brave men – he’s shot and orders his brother, Connor, and his men to retreat; he knows he’s mortally wounded.

But Moran is too valuable to be allowed to die and he’s nursed back to health by Amelie under order of her Guardian, the French General in charge of Ticonderoga. They plan to interrogate him and then release him to the Abanaki who would torture him to death by fire. Only Amelie learns he’s not a ruthless monster but a kind caring man, and she’s falling in love with him. When the opportunity arises Amelie fights for his life and Morgan is given a chance to be honored for his Scottish aristocracy as well as his fighting skill. He’s offered to join the French and teach their men all the skills he learned as a Ranger in exchange for his life and his freedom.

Morgan knows he’d never betray his brothers or his men, so it’s a fine line he must walk when he agrees to “turn traitor” against the British. He’s now become a spy of his own making. And oh doesn’t that add a degree of sexy to Morgan MacKinnon? But when Morgan is caught spying by Amelie, he does the only thing he can think of, he drags her into his room and kisses her. When the General discovers them in a compromising position, Morgan knows he’ll be turned over to the Abanaki for torture. Only Amelie doesn’t confess to his spying, and so they’re forced to be married. And Morgan finally discovers he’s living the life he and his brother’s should have been given instead of being forced to serve Wentworth.

And yet no matter how he wishes it so, he cannot stay, because to stay would be betraying his brothers and his brotherhood. And so he must leave behind her heart and part of his soul in the name of honor and duty. But his escape goes awry when he’s knocked out and captured by a jealous French Lt., who wanted Amelie for himself, and Abanaki set on revenge. When Amelie wakes to discover Morgan is being kidnapped she’s dragged along only to be nearly raped by the Lt. before being turned over to her mother’s people.

But French and Abanaki aren’t the only ones in the woods that night; the Rangers are nearby. And so they’re rescued by Morgan’s men and now Morgan’s priorities have changed. He’s taking Amelie with him because she’s no longer safe in Ticonderoga. But Morgan isn’t safe on either side of the war and soon discovers General Ashworth wants to use him as an example for other defectors whether he’s innocent or not. Ashworth plans for him to hang at the end of the noose. Amelie’s guardian wants her back to punish Morgan for his betrayal and offers British officers, being held prisoner by the French, in exchange for Amelie. It becomes a fine line for Morgan and his Rangers to walk as they try to save not only his life but both Amelie and Morgan from an impossible fate; learning to live without the other.

Some may feel this is simply a reprint under a new publisher – Berkley – but it’s not that simple, nor a correct assumption. There’s a whole Novella’s worth of story added to an already five-star read. Picture it this way: If the first publication of Untamed were a chocolate cupcake, most would be satisfied. Hello it’s chocolate! But Untamed 2.0 (As Ms. Clare calls it) isn’t your ordinary chocolate cupcake; it’s the rich double-chocolate cupcake with a decadently creamy center, covered in thick, luscious, ganache. In short, Untamed is sinfully delicious and calorie free, unlike that cupcake. It’s sensual, emotionally charged and an incredibly talented weave of explosive fiction around a solid core of historical fact that will have you turning page after page as you lose yourself in this incredible fictional portrayal of the War That Made America.

P.S. Don’t forget the Kleenex as you prepare to snuggle up under a warm blanket with a cup of cocoa, and that cupcake to begin your journey with MacKinnon and his Rangers.

Book Blurb for Untamed

When he awakens sweet passion in a convent-bred French lass, Morgan MacKinnon finds himself cursing the war that's forced him to choose between upholding his honor and pledging himself to the woman he loves.

Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2012 5.00