Embrace the Dawn is a Christian historical romance novel from Tyndale about an abused wife who kills her husband in self-defence, and to aid the man hiding in the woods spying on her clan for reasons of his own which become clear towards the end of the book.
She is a colonial from America, desperate to be loved and belong, but she betrays her clan and proposes marriage to the supposed murderer of her husband in order to try to save him from the gallows, and helps him escape from her cousin by marriage Adam, who immediately starts to desire the young widow for himself.
Adam and Ruarc MacDonald were once friends, but now rivals due to the unstable Sheila, whom Ruarc married and has supposedly murdered when he caught her in adultery with Adam. Thus the stage is set for disaster through all their human failings--only divine intervention can ever redeem any of them.
The novel is gritty and deals with a lot of issues to do with temptation, love, adultery, and surrendering to the will of God. It is also historically situated at the time of rising English ambitions in Scotland, with clan against clan, culminating in the horrible massacre of Glencoe. (1691)
I enjoyed the historical accuracy of the novel, and the romance was handled well, but the Christian aspect was actually a lot more vague than one might expect, I think because they are clearly Catholics, with a priest for their advisor. (A bit odd for a Tyndale book?).
The heroine's lack of guilt over the murder and ease with which she marries and is happy is startling and not true to life. The way the hero finally comes back to the church is also too pat.
The child Gavin is very sweet, when we get to see him in the book, but this is not too often. He is used as a plot device more often than not, so that the heroine lacks depth and her emotions and actions don't ring true.
The rivalry between the two former friends and the adultery were on virtually every page, making the whole thing seem inevitable and rather dull after a while.
Also: If neither of them murdered the girl, who did...... It takes them a long time to ask that question and by then we have long figured it out.
Still, I enjoyed the depiction of Scotland and how they triumph over their enemies one by one, except of course for the English, sadly. The end was rather rushed too; I hate when an author is clearly in such a hurry to finish a book that it really shows. The mentions of James trying to win the throne were few and far between, thus sacrificing what could have been real dramatic tension and giving the book a more epic feel.
Finally, the end leaves you hanging to find out if the hero will ever be pardoned by the king, King William of Orange, so no doubt there must be sequels coming up, which felt a little bit unsatisfying.