Thursday, May 6, 2010

Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The story opens with the death of Bryce MacPhearson’s father in the Highlands of Scotland of 1473, who entreats his son to make him a promise that he hopes will end a half century of feuding between his clan and the MacKenzies.

In an effort to carry out his vow, warrior Bryce kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day with the intention of marrying her to his reluctant elder brother, Evan. However, the timing is not ideal, for it is Akira’s wedding day to Gregor Matheson, although Bryce cannot know that Akira has already renounced her prospective groom. Dragged off on Bryce’s horse, Akira is horrified to learn she is intended not for the man who kidnapped her, but for his brother, Evan MacPhearson.

Humiliated, Akira fights Bryce and the two enter into a resentful but grudging alliance when through his carelessness, she almost drowns. He takes her home to recover, but then Akira learns Evan has little intention of marrying a MacKenzie and her humiliation is complete.

Akira forms a bond with the MacPhearson deaf-mute younger brother, Sim, but then her clan enters MacPhearson land to reclaim her and in a skirmish of misunderstanding, Arkira’s prospective groom and Evan are killed.

In order to keep his promise to his father, and now Clan Chief, Bryce forces the issue by marrying Akira by proxy and presenting her with a fait accomplis. Furious, Akira refuses to accept him at first, but her feelings undergo a change when she learns more of her husband’s character. Perhaps God has given her a higher purpose in this forced marriage.

An uneasy truce exists between Bryce and Akira’s brothers, Elliot and Gavin. Then a string of murders leaves a trail of suspicion and fear, so that Akira no longer trusts anyone and worse, Bryce doesn’t trust her. Before long, Akira finds her own life is in jeopardy.

Clearly, there is a traitor in their midst who must be uncovered, or Bryce may never get past his suspicions about his wife and neither can find happiness .

Highland Blessings is a gentle story which takes a sinister twist when the plot turns to murder. Akira is a confused girl who doesn’t understand what her role is and to whom she should feel loyalty. Feeling unloved by her family, she seeks a way to come to terms with what God has destined for her. Her battles become more complicated as she falls deeper in love with Bryce.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor’s Akira MacKenzie draws Medieval Scotland very well in her characters and their motivations, beliefs and loyalties. I found her heroine more reflective and soul searching than the usual romantic heroine, but then that could be because I have never read an inspirational romance before, so her internal conflict and its conclusion have a purpose.

For those who revel in stories of Medieval Scotland and the romantic Highlands in particular, you will find empathy with Akira and her battles, both emotional and spiritual.


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