Highland Crossings is a collection of four linked inspirational romance novellas set in a time frame ranging from the early colonization of the Americas to post-Revolution United States. They are tied together by a brooch given the family by Mary Queen of Scots as a reward for aid rendered, and as it’s a family heirloom, the tales follow members of the family from both the same and different generations.
As I was reading, each novella became a favorite until I lost the ability to tell which I liked the most.
In Healer of My Heart by Pamela Griffin, Seona is distrustful for good reason, but when discovered as a stowaway on a colony ship bound to America, her abilities as a healer give her an in with Colin Campbell, the head of the colony group. His care and dedication toward Seona slowly melt the fear that blocks her heart, but that is not the end of their troubles, troubles I can’t speak of without spoiling. The story offers a good blend of setting in the difficulties facing new colonies and romance, with a character appropriate religious angle that was neither preaching nor overbearing. Oh, and the brooch in this case makes Seona out to look the thief even though it’s not hers but rather a token of love she’s delivering for a cousin.
Printed on my Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes offers a different purpose for the brooch. It becomes an object of mythology that Fiona must recover to bring luck and hope back to her Scottish village. When she comes to America though, she is unable to work and falls afoul of a new law that means she will be publicly lashed as a vagrant. A printer’s son, Owain Cardew, and a Welshman, steps in to pay her fine, and from there a love begins that is both inappropriate because of her now indentured servant status and broken by the secrets kept between them. This novella focuses more on faith, as both Owain and Fiona have lost theirs and must rediscover trust in God as well as each other. It’s a strong story that speaks of the darker side of colonization, and makes the town face the fact that they brought the same with them in their attempt to escape tyranny in their homelands.
Sugarplum Hearts by Gina Welborn reverses the other two novellas by making the woman, Seren Cardew, grounded and at home while the man, Finley Sinclair, is the one trying to gain roots. Seren has sold the brooch to start a candy story in a time when sugar serves no purpose but to make medicine more tolerable. Her way would have been easier in one of the bigger towns, but she’s done with moving, having left in the middle of the night too many times thanks to her father’s revolutionary pamphlets, something she believes in, but still doesn’t appreciate how it impacted her life. Finley is exercising his friendly nature to make enough as a broker that he can settle down on farmland in Ohio. In this, the strength of their faith is something that bonds them together, and rather it’s their hopes and dreams that threaten to tear them apart, with Finley’s luck with the ladies offering a secondary conflict though he has his heart set on only one. It’s a sweet tale, no pun intended, about two people learning more about themselves, good and bad, in the reflection found in the eyes of the one they love.
Heart’s Inheritance by Jennifer Hudson Taylor closes the collection, bringing us far enough into the “future” for Brynna Sinclair’s dream to be establishing a museum to remind everyone of their roots and the history that they brought with them when their families braved immigration to a new land. It’s also the only novella in which the characters are set against each other from the start. Brynna has clear ideas of the man coming to inherit what his uncle, beloved by the town, had built, and she won’t let anything turn her opinion. Niall is struck by Brynna from the start, but her actions confuse, then wound him. It takes a bit of doing for Brynna to let her distrust go, and for Niall to forgive her actions, but it makes for a strong, conflict driven close to a solid group of stories.
I got this collection on NetGalley after the recommendation from Valerie Comer who is included in an upcoming collection from Barbour Publishing. The opinions, and enjoyment, however, was all my own.