Occasionally, when I can persuade her, author Kat Sheridan—lover of lush historicals—will contribute something for my readers. I love reading her reviews, articles, short stories, and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.
In the interest of my almost pathological honesty, I should say I’m not the target audience for this book. Well, it IS romance (which I love), and every page is rich with historical detail and lush writing (which I also love), and it’s a tale of loss and redemption and yearning and passion and all those other sorts of things I ALSO adore in a book.
So why is The Irish Healer, the stunningly beautiful debut novel from NancyHerriman, not a novel I’d ordinarily read? Because it’s billed as “inspirational/Christian romance”. To the uneducated (like I was), that meant this book would be filled with the Bible, and Christian values, and I would be preached at on every page. Although I’m a spiritual person, I’m not a Christian. I’m also a published author of erotic romance. How much more “NOTD” (Not Our Type, Darling) could this book be? Therefore, this book was not for me.
And I couldn't have been more wrong.
Rachel Dunne—the Irish healer of the title—is running away. Although acquitted of murdering a child under her care, she’s come to London to escape the scandal of her past, vowing to give up her gift of healing, believing it’s really a curse. She finds work with Dr. James Edmunds, a man with tragedies of his own in his past, a physician who is also in the process of giving up his medical practice. Rachel vows only to work as a sort of secretary for him. She will not help him in medical matters, will not sit at the bedside of patients, will not trust or use her own special gifts.
James and Rachel have each in their own way given up on God, as they believe God has abandoned them. Here is one of my favorite scenes:
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“I understand loss and trials and difficulties, Dr. Edmunds. I understand struggling to hold onto hope that tomorrow will be better than today. I understand how hard it is to watch a child suffer and feel powerless to help her. I understand wanting to believe that God will perform a miracle and feeling lost and disillusioned when He does not.” Old, sad bitterness tainted her words. “That is what I understand, Dr. Edmunds.”
His gaze searched her face, looked directly into her eyes, straight into her soul. “So what do we do now?”
Confused by his question, Rachel answered the only way she could. “We go forward.”
“But what if you don’t have the strength to go forward? What if you don’t have the courage?”
“Somehow, you have to find it.” (you can read an excerpt of Chapter one.)
Note the subtle way inspirational reference is woven in, without browbeating the reader with it (which was what I had feared from an inspirational romance. Again, I could not have been more wrong.) This is a book about the universal themes of loss and forgiveness, about finding redemption, and most powerfully, about finding love. It transcends a specific, single belief system. It’s about learning to forgive yourself, and love yourself; about accepting love and forgiveness from others. It is also about understanding—accepting—the always-present love and forgiveness of something—someone—greater than you.
The thing is, you don’t have to subscribe to certain beliefs in order to become immersed in a beautiful story. I can read about dragons and genies and mermaids, witches and voodoo priestesses and shamans, and if the story is well done, the characters believable and right for the tale, that writing a feast for the senses, that’s all that really matters. The Irish Healer is that kind of book.
And make no mistake, this is first and foremost, a romance, as sweet and delicious and sexy and yummy as you could ever want. There is no overt sex in this book; there’s barely a single kiss. But oh, the yearning! The longing! Ms. Herriman beautifully, powerfully builds the tension, page by page, a glance, a touch, a sigh at a time, until the reader is as wound up as Rachel and James, an ember about to burst into a conflagration. This is a truly romantic romance.
The power of faith is the backbone of this feast of a novel, but love—God’s and man’s—is the heart and soul of it. I’ve never been happier to have been wrong about something. Missing out on this wonderful book would have been a tragedy indeed.
- Inspirational romance is way outside my usual comfort zone of reading. Have you ever read outside your comfort zone?
- Did you find something new and wonderful?
Kat Sheridan is a recovering project manager and business analyst whose hard-bitten persona has always hidden a secret romantic. She likes her stories with a dark and dangerous flavor, so long as the villains are vanquished and true love triumphs in the end. She is inordinately fond of glitter nail polish, shiny things, bourbon, and any comestibles on which frosting can be placed. Kat splits her time between the Midwest in the summer and the South in the winter. Her peripatetic life is shared with her own real-life hero who shows her every day what happily ever after means. Connect to her on Facebook at or visit her website: Kat Sheridan