Margaret Mallory’s Christmas Highland Novella makes for a great read even after the Christmas season. I really enjoy the way Mallory weaves the history of the Highlands in with fictional romance. Her stories capture my attention and don’t let go of it until long after I have finished her book. Her characters, even in this novella, are well developed and have believable story arcs and obstacles to overcome. The book is well paced and actually covers quite a bit of story for a novella.
The Gift starts out in England 1441 with the threat of and very real persecution of witches that occurred during that time. The heroine Lily is a healer and she can tell that it’s time for her to escape England. So begins a harrowing journey to the Highlands to escape persecution and save her own life before it’s too late. In the Highlands, Roderick is on a secret mission with some untrustworthy companions when he runs across a near dead woman. He quickly realizes that this may be the woman his clan Seer foretold, and may be the healer that the clan desperately needs. Convincing her to stay is going to be difficult, and falling in love with her and convincing her of that love is not going to be an easy task either.
Lily’s well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city’s witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can’t save her.
Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have The Gift his clan needs—and he burns with passion for her—he’s determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart.
When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?