The second son of a clan chief, John Brunson, at a young age, is sent to live with the royal court. He's always resented the fact that his father seemed to have no interest in him, to only pay attention to his older brother who would one day become clan chief. He hasn't seen his family or home in 10 years. Now his king has sent him back home to gather his family's men to join the king's war against a traitor. His reception home is a cold one. He finds out his father has recently died at the hands of a rival clan. His brother is now clan chief and has no interest in helping the king. The Brunson clan is focused on revenge.
Cate Gilnock is also bent on revenge, and she shares the Brunson's enemy. After the murder of her own father and the brutal taking of her innocence she turned to the Brunson clan for sanctuary. John's father promised her revenge. She hides herself in a tough exterior, never letting anybody get really close. She is learning to fight so she will never be vulnerable in any type of situation. She ends up being John's answer in getting his brother to send their men to help the king. If John can persuade her to give up her drive for revenge, then his brother would be free to help the king.
It's almost comical John's thought process at the beginning. He thinks it will be really easy to persuade Cate. He's used to women throwing themselves at him at court. He thinks first to seduce her into following his will. Cate's not going for it. She trusts very few men and in the beginning John does nothing to persuade her he is worthy of her trust. That trust slowly builds, though, once he promises to help her with her revenge and they spend more time together.
John had to grow on me too. I thought he was a little too cocky at first. I wasn't sure if I was going to ever like him. But I think it was his way of dealing with his insecurities with his family. Part of him wants nothing to do with them, to return to his king. And another part of him wants to prove to his family that he is still a Brunson and belongs with his family.
Once John gets past his insecurities, I started to really like him. Cate did too. The more Cate starts to trust John, the more he is able to break through her shell. She's really vulnerable, but determined. Cate vows never to be put in a position again where she feels helpless, where she won't fight. I liked that drive in her. Really John and Cate end up helping each other get past their problems and insecurities. Trust and respect become major factors in their relationship. But it wasn't all seriousness. John ended up having a cute flirty side too.
I do have to say something about the cover. I adore it. I love the way both models are looking out towards us. I love the colors and the almost suggestive way she is holding his sword. But Cate's hair is short throughout the book and she mostly dresses in men's clothing. The cover Cate does not really match book Cate. That bothered me a little.
ARC provided through NetGalley.