The Rock is the eleventh book in the Highland Guard series by Monica McCarty. 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.
The Rock is the story of a smithy’s son that befriended the children of the local lord. Growing up he loved the daughter, and had a solid friendship (albeit with some power issues) with the son. However, as adults Thom is still in love with Elizabeth and she isa he practical Lord’s daughter prepared to marry fir standing and power as is tradition. There is where the struggle lies, Thom is willing to risk everything for the woman that has scorned and rejected him any every turn, and Elizabeth admires and lusts after Thom but is so rooted in the mindset of doing what is expected and duty that she is rarely willing to risk anything. There is plenty of daring-do, as Thom saves the day for Elizabeth and everyone else again and again, but because I was regularly frustrated by Thom’s devotion and Elizabeth in general I just could not enjoy this one. I liked the side stories, and background action, but the romance of this particular installment was not one that kept me happily turning pages. It might be time for me to put this series away for awhile.