In February's release, Romancing America takes us to the 1700s, when many Scottish immigrants came to North Carolina. The characters in this collection are related to one other, though the stories don't follow a strictly generational format.
A family heirloom helps tie the tales together. This brooch is of a lion's head with topaz eyes, and was given to an ancestor 200 years earlier for service to the crown. It's by far the most valuable item this family owns, and it's taken on mythic proportions.
In "Healer of My Heart" by Pamela Griffin, dangerous accusations force Seona to flee Scotland with the brooch in hand, but will she find peace before her past is revealed?
This novella starts out in Scotland as Seona is smuggled aboard the Thistle as a stowaway, bound for North Carolina. If she's caught-or recognized onboard-she may well be burned at the stake. A well respected agent, Colin Campbell, discovers her presence, and doesn't turn her in because she's a healer who can cure his younger brother of his ailments. He's also attracted to her and sets Seona up to live with his cousin in the New Land. But if she can't trust him with her past, how can they build a future together?
In "Printed on My Heart" by Laurie Alice Eakes, Seona's cousin Fiona arrives in North Carolina years later in search of the brooch. Nothing has gone right in their Scottish village since the brooch disappeared, and superstition demands its return. Fiona is down on her luck and bitter besides. There's a nasty law that allows the town constable to whip her because she isn't employed, but she's rescued by Owain, the printer's son. He pays the fine, which indentures her to the family for a year.
Fiona chafes at the sentence, knowing it slows down her search for her family's treasure. But the love she sees between the members of the Cardew family, and between them and God, begins to tug at her heart. Can both she and Owain trust God to meet their needs and provide them a future filled with love?
In "Sugarplum Hearts" by Gina Welborn, Seren sells the brooch to open a confectionery, but will the precious heirloom be lost to a hopeless dream? After all, no one understands candy just for the sake of candy. Now, if she only made sweet-tasting medicines, her neighbors would understand.
Finley Sinclair is a broker with a dream. He only wants to make enough money to buy a farm, and the only item he can find to resell in the city are Seren's candies. And if this should happen to endear him to their maker, that wouldn't be all bad. He's a man with a wee bit of self-confidence where the ladies are concerned, and Seren is not amused.
This novella is Gina Welborn's debut and I must admit I really enjoyed Finley in particular. It's difficult to write a character who's convinced he's God's gift to women and have him come off as endearing rather than arrogant. Gina managed to pull this off.
In "Heart's Inheritance" by Jennifer Hudson TaylorThe heirloom brooch belongs to Brynna Cardew's older sister, and that makes Brynna a little jealous. She's the one with a deep love of history, after all. So it's doubly annoying when Niall Cameron comes to town determined to update his deceased uncle's businesses. Has he no respect for heritage? As Brynna's employer, Niall has no idea what he's done to annoy her, but he wants her love, not her ire. When the brooch is stolen, Niall knows just how he can win her over.
Something I really enjoyed about this collection were the voices of the various authors. In general, I prefer reading contemporary romance over historical, so it takes a stronger voice to pull me into historical fiction. These gals have that voice in spades. A few times I got hung up on the Scottish lingo, but it wasn't overdone.
If you enjoy historical and/or Scottish fiction, you'll love this glimpse into the Campbell/Cardew family of the 1700s in North Carolina.