We all know I love historical fiction, and I have a particular soft spot for historical fiction books about ‘witches’, wise women, and healers, so I jumped at the chance to check out Allison Butler’s novel The Healer. Of course, comparisons with Outlander didn’t hurt either haha. Here’s the synopsis:
1402, the Anglo-Scottish border.
Lynelle Fenwick is the daughter of an English lord, but was deemed cursed when her mother didn’t survive childbirth and has been an outcast all her life. Raised by the village healer, who has since died, Lynelle truly is alone. When her younger half-brother is captured during a Scottish raid, she sees a last chance to redeem herself to the father who rejected her, and offers to be held captive in his place.
Across the turbulent border, Lynelle strikes a bargain with William Kirkpatrick, laird of Closeburn. She will spend two weeks inside the clan’s castle tending William’s younger brother who is in need of a healer’s care. The laird has his own family curse to deal with, along with a deep distrust of healers – and Lynelle has exaggerated her healing skills to obtain her half-brother’s freedom.
Despite their differences, William and Lynelle are drawn to each other … then an unexpected foe threatens to divide them forever … Enemies by birth and circumstance, they can only succeed together.
This was a fun, quick and easy read. I liked the way that William and Lynelle were drawn to each other despite their differences – I think I mentioned in another recent review that ‘insta-hate’ to set up for enemies to lovers is probably my least favourite romance trope, but these two starting as actual literal enemies made this one sort of forbidden love I guess, and i thought it worked well.
I liked the cast of characters we met throughout the story – there were enough to make the world feel complete, but not so many that I couldn’t keep track, and some of the unlikely friendships Lynelle made were really lovely. I do love a ‘finding your place’ family, and the tension in this one between wanting to be loyal to family (who don’t necessarily deserve it) and wanting to fit in with people (even if they are technically your enemies) really came through. I also liked the contrast of Lynelle’s frankly quite awful family against Wiliam’s dedication to his brother.
The steam factor was relatively high once this moved beyond the longing stares and hoarse voices, which started almost immediately and went on for quite sometime. It is definitely on the romance side of historical romance. The pacing was actually kind of interesting – it is a really slow burn until about two thirds (or maybe more) through, at which point the action really picks up, both in terms of Lynelle and William’s relationship and other events.
I enjoyed this would recommend it as a fun book to binge over a few days for a romance-y Scottish getaway.
The Healer by Allison Butler
Out now from Harlequin/Harper Collins
Source: Free copy sent to me by Harlequin Australia (thank you!). All views are my own.
Category: Historical romance fiction
Format: Paperback (312 pages)
Australian RRP: $29.99