Title: The Healer
Author: Allison Butler
Published: August 5th 2020
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4 stars
An Englishwoman, a Scottish laird … a love that will surpass all borders. A sumptuous romance in the spirit of Diana Gabaldon and Darry Fraser.
1402, the Anglo-Scottish border.
Lynelle Fenwick has been an outcast all her life. The daughter of an English lord, she was deemed cursed when her mother didn’t survive childbirth. 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.
‘Could it be her whole cursed existence led her to this place, to William? If so, what was her true purpose here?
To become the healer she claimed to be by aiding the sick? Was she meant to restore William’s faith in healers? Or was she here to experience life, as she’d never known it before?’
Castles, bloody battles, kinship, herbs, lairds and lasses populate Allison Butler’s The Healer. First published in 2014 and re-released in August 2020 with a stunning new cover, The Healer is a novel that transports the reader to 1400s Scotland, offering a tale of family, personal passions, romance and loss. It is story that will draw in fans of historical romances.
The heroine of Allison Butler’s historical offering is Lynelle Fenwick, a young woman who cannot find her true place in life. Lynelle is a woman haunted by the shadow of a curse placed on her head following the loss of her mother in childbirth. Consequently, Lynelle was placed in the care of the village healer, who since has passed away. With no one to call on, Lynelle seeks the help of her father, an English lord who shown no prior interest in her. In an attempt to free her half-brother, who has been captured in a raid, Lynelle sacrifices herself for her brother’s freedom. It is a selfless act that sees Lynelle form a deal with William Kirkpatrick, a laird. In agreeing to be held hostage for two weeks, Lynelle must provide care to William’s injured brother. Although Lynelle does not officially class herself as a bona fide healer, she must keep up this act of pretense to secure her brother’s release. It is a hard fight, knowing how suspicious the laird is of healers. Can Lynelle win over the laird and obtain her brother’s release?
A highland getaway is just what I need right now and I’m sure I’m not the only one! Even though we are closed for travel, we have books such The Healer available to us for that perfect spot of armchair travel. The Healer is ideal for those who wish to escape in a rollicking tale set in the past, with a generous serving of romance.
The Healer features Lynelle and William, two very strong and likeable leads in their own right who direct the proceedings of the novel from start to finish. The unfolding story is viewed from their respective standpoints in a shifting style of narration. I enjoyed getting to know these appealing leads. I also appreciated the tension that was ramped up in terms of William and Lynelle making that shift from enemies to lovers. I thought Allison Butler provided a convincing form of characterisation in relation to her prime protagonists and her supporting cast. This is a novel full of involving situations and interesting eventualities.
Allison Butler lays down the ground work solidly in terms of her recreation of the time period and setting base in The Healer. We are very easily transported to centuries back in time, to Scotland in 1407. With a back history of battles and plenty of tragic events overshadowing this era, the author has touched on a very interesting time period. Allison Butler has successfully transferred her clear love and obvious fascination of Scotland’s past to The Healer. I think readers will be impressed by the detail in terms of the sense of place, the clan history, the rich landscape and comprehensive glimpse into medieval plants and their healing properties. The focus on the medicinal side of plants and herbs via the healing sections of the novel were my favourite aspects of this tale.
Pacing wise, The Healer maintains a consistent beat, but I did find the action seemed to move a little faster towards the final stages of the tale. The Healer is a novel that is plentiful in terms of the romance side of things and I did find the love scenes that eventuate between the leads to be moderately steamy. I did enjoy the attraction between William and Lynelle, but I will admit to skipping the love scenes, which is not unusual for me! But if you like an enemies come lovers style romance, The Healer will appeal.
With themes of family, love, attraction, personal sacrifice, duty, protection, trust, kinship, inclusion, safety, loyalty and self-belief, The Healer is a robust historical romance novel for fans of the genre.
The Healer by Allison Butler was published on 5th August 2020 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Healer, Allison Butler, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Healer is book #107 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge
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