Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by WaterBrook Press
Genre: historical fiction, Christian fiction, historical romance, holiday novella (Christmas), Victorian Scotland
Rating: 5 stars
Stirling, Scotland. 24 December 1894
After a heated argument with her greedy and cynical brother Alan, a tearful and heartbroken Meg Campbell puts a sudden end to her Christmas visit, fleeing her parents' home and heading back to Edinburgh where she works as a teacher. The cheerful holiday sentiment is now replaced by sadness and guilt "as sharp as the wintry wind". Alan is disabled since the age of ten: under Meg's very own eyes, a granite curling stone was recklessly hurled against his back by an inebriated young man, causing a serious spinal injury. As a young boy, Alan was already fostering feelings of resentment and jealousy toward his older sister. With her bright mind and independent spirit, Meg had always been her parents' favorite child and the tragic accident only fueled Alan's bitterness and cynicism, providing him also with a perfect excuse to work on his sister's guilt, drive her away from home, and finally win his parents' undivided attention.
"Man's goings are of the Lord", and on the most saint of the nights a special present will be delivered to Meg by divine intervention in the person of handsome Gordon Shaw, the same man who had accidentally injured her brother Alan years back and whose conscience now refuses to be silenced. Not an object wrapped in paper and twine then, but the most redeeming gift of all, love. Brought together by an unprecedented snow storm and stuck on the same train bound to Edinburgh, Meg and Gordon will be initially unaware of each other's identity, but once drawn to each other by mutual attraction, nothing will keep them apart, not even that painful secret of their shared history.
She already missed Gordon. Though they'd met a mere twenty-four hours ago, he'd made a deep impression on her, like a thumb pressed into soft clay. [...] Meg loved the way he said her name, as if he'd just taken a bite of something sweet.
He'd known her for all of a day, yet he could not stop thinking about her. Aye, she was bonny, but her appeal went far deeper than those blue eyes of hers. She had a fine intellect and a broad streak of independence that matched his own.
They turned to each other at last, their breaths mingling in the frosty air. Meg thought Gordon might kiss her, so intently was his gaze trained on her mouth. She prayed he wouldn't. She hoped he would. Gordon slowly lifted his eyes until they met hers. "I came to say good-bye and I find I cannot."
As a first time reader of Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of inspirational fiction, I couldn't have had a more pleasant and gratifying experience. Five shining Christmas stars is my heartfelt rating for a holiday novella that by all means excelled for the historical accuracy of the late Victorian setting, charming characterization of lead couple, clean romance, and meaningful plot. Imbued with the Christian cornerstone principles of forgiveness and redemption, and delivered with the grace of an emotionally descriptive and eloquent prose, this heart-warming holiday tale is actually good for all seasons and all ages. It will not fail to engross those readers who love all things Scottish and Christmas, as well as those who appreciate a sweet romance enriched with graceful shades of angst and suspense. Highly recommended.