Our story starts in Outremer. The two Saracens are scouting a camp. They finally find what they are looking for and motion to Sin, their slave. They tell him which tent he is to enter. There he will find the man that he is to kill. Sin makes it to the tent. The only thing that he has known from his masters is cruelty. They feed him just enough to keep him alive and torture him endlessly. Only when he has killed to their satisfaction does he even get to sleep in a bed. He is dressed in rags. Every time that he has tried to escape, they have always managed to capture him. The beatings and the torture that follow an escape attempt are too horrible to even remember. He needs to get away from them. All of these thoughts are going through his mind as he looks down at the sleeping man he was sent to kill. He finally decides that if anyone can help him escape, it will be this English King. Sin wakes the man up and offers his loyalty to Henry in return for helping him escape his masters. Henry sees a child holding a dagger over his throat and canít understand how the lad even managed to get past his guards. Henry accepts the offer, knowing that Sin will always give him his loyalty.
Our story next takes us to London twelve years later. The Lady Caledonia of the Clan MacNeely was captured and taken as hostage, along with Jamie, her little half-brother. She has been in London for three months now and hates it. She wants to get home so badly it hurts. She keeps trying to escape, but so far has not been able to accomplish her goal. Sin has just arrived back at Henryís Court. He has grown into a hard self-reliant man. Henry uses Sinís skills to his own advantage and Sin has killed more than once in the name of the man that he owes any allegiance to. Henry and Sin are talking privately. Henry tells Sin that he has too many enemies nipping at his heels and need to settle at least one of them. He has come up with a plan to do this. He plans on marrying Caledonia, who is cousin to the Scottish King, to an English knight. The knight will have the task of finding The Raider and handing him over to the King. The knight that Henry has in mind for this task is none other than Sin himself. Henry wants to use Sin because Sin is half Scottish. Sinís father was the Laird of the MacAllisters, one of the most powerful of the Highland Clans. Sin knows the language and Henry knows that he will not have to worry about Sin doing the job. Sin has no intentions of every getting married. He has also sworn never to set foot in Scotland again. At first, he flat out refuses. Eventually, he tells Henry if he can find an ordained priest to perform the ceremony, he will comply. Sin knows that Henry wonít be able to because he has been ex-communicated countless times.
Sin literally runs into Callie while she is trying to escape once again. He becomes captivated by her beauty. Sin is also shocked by the fact that Callie doesnít turn away him and run from him as everyone else does. She actually stands up to him. Callie is also quite taken by Sin. He is the most handsome man that she has seen. She is drawn to him by the aura of pain surrounding him.
Henry finally manages to find an ordained priest that is willing to perform the wedding ceremony. Sin will have no choice but to hold to his word and marry Callie. Before the wedding can take place, Sin has to save Callie from her escape attempts more than once. Sinís boyhood friend Simon shows up in London and volunteers to accompany him to Scotland. The wedding takes place. Now the four of them have to get to Scotland and Sin must find The Raider.
Sin has known nothing but pain his entire life. His mother never wanted him. She sent him to his father right after his birth. His father never wanted him either and never even spoke to him directly. His stepmother is the one that named him Sin and she couldnít stand to even look at him. Sin became a hostage to King Henry when he was very young. He was sent to live with Simonís father. When Simonís father went to Outremer, he took him with and sold Sin into slavery for his own passage back home. His masters treated him worse than a dog. He knows nothing of kindness and love. He has been hurt so many times, that he has built walls around his feelings and never acknowledges them. Callie is definitely intrigued by this man that has become her husband. She can sense all the pain inside him and wants to help him. She quickly comes to love Sin, but cannot penetrate his walls. Simon is a good friend to Sin, but even he feels guilt when it comes to Sin. He knows just how cruel his father was and the unjust punishments that Sin received. He quickly befriends Callie and helps her in every way he can.
This is a wonderful Medieval tale, full of intrigue and historical figures. The action is non-stop. The ending definitely makes this book, and it was not what I expected. And yes, I definitely shed some tears at how the story ends. It was wonderful watching how Callie refuses to give up on her husband and just keeps trying to get through to him. We can only begin to imagine what life was like for Sin before he met Callie and we definitely understand how he turned into the cold man that he was. This is a book that I definitely recommend reading.
Chere Gruver, July 2003