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The third book in McCollum’s Sons of Sinclairseries stars a chieftain under Scotland’s King James. Both brawny and brainy, Gideon Sinclair is one of four “Horsemen of the Apocalypse”; i.e., Gideon and his brothers were taught by their father to raise hell against enemies of the throne. Gideon, “Horseman of Justice,” must impose law and order. On one of his patrols, Gideon spies Cait MacKay dancing alone in the snowy woods, and he is instantly entranced. Gideon saves Cait’s sister, Willa, when she falls into an icy river, but Cait, a widow, resorts to stealing from him to keep her children fed. She learns he is one of the formidable Horsemen of the Apocalypse and goes on a risky adventure to return what she stole. As Gideon grows increasingly passionate about Cait and becomes familiar with everyday people, he also learns to distinguish between judgment and justice. And as Cait begins to fall for Gideon, she heals from her previous abusive marriage. Cait and Gideon work together to organize the Christmas Hogmanay fest and deal with their past traumas, and all seems well, but sinister forces are plotting a dangerous political takeover. McCollum’s romance ably balances a suspenseful game of political chicken, the possibility of civil war, and skyrocketing sexual tension between Gideon and Cait. Along with their crackling chemistry, the couple build a deep respect for each other that involves the shedding of emotional and social barriers; Gideon says to Cait: “We convince ourselves that we’re something we’re not. We bend our world around that impersonation to protect ourselves from an ugly world that requires us to be something else.” Though filled with the genre’s common tropes, the novel also considers identity, gender equality, and the nature of justice. And we see some comic relief in the form of fraternal hijinks among the Sinclair brothers.

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