Wednesday, April 18, 2012

READING OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE—The Irish Healer

Plenty interesting topics to read today: A-Z Blogfest. Today's letter is P. You can find a list of participants Here.


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:

BUY:Amazon, B&N, Powells 
“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.

Question: 

  • 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 

30 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, thank you for this lovely review! I'm hoping to have Nancy visit with us Over Coffee as soon as I can schedule her.

As one who does reviews, I've read several stories outside my comfort zone and have discovered many wonderful authors as a result.

Other Lisa said...

Beautiful review, Kat!

I will ponder your question and return with an answer tomorrow!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent review, and great to read.


Yvonne.

Jo said...

Excellent review. I wouldn't have read this book. Now I just might give it a go.

Sia, did you read about George the Great Dane?

~Sia McKye~ said...

JO-Yes Ma'am,I've read about and seen the you-tube video's of George, the Great Dane. My largest Dane, Gidget, weighs 180lbs and is very big, but not as big as George. Btw, George could stand to lose about 10-15 lbs. With Danes, it best if you can see a bit of indentation of the lower ribs near the stomach.

Kat Sheridan said...

Good morning, Sia! What a lovely picture! Reminds me of sitting at the patio table with you, sharing coffee and laughs! And hello to everyone else! I can't say enough how much I loved reading The Irish Healer. The writing in it is simply gorgeous, and the period details, especially about the medical details of the time, are SO amazing. Did I mention this takes place during a cholera outbreak in London? And that there's another child in danger? Oh, and that there were places I cried? SUCH a wonderful story!

Kat Sheridan said...

Thank you otherlisa and welcome-to-my world for enjoying the review! And Jo, do give the book a try. If you like historical romance you truly won't be disappointed. (I have very tough standards, and this one is a keeper!)

Julie said...

What a great review! This book sounds wonderful and I know it's crazy but anything with Irish or Ireland in the title always gets my interest. Thanks for sharing!

Kat Sheridan said...

Thank you, Julie! Be aware, the book isn't set in Ireland (notice Big Ben on the cover!) but the main character has come from Ireland and speaks fondly of so many things about it. Her Irish background defines her sensibilities and her memories. It's really beautiful. I think you'd enjoy it!

Clarissa Draper said...

Sometimes when I read outside my comfort zone, I find the best books.

James Rafferty said...

Hi Kat. Nice review. It's fun when your expectations get demolished and surpassed by a writer. Reminds me of when I was assigned Rebecca in high school and became totally immersed in the bittersweet story.

Kat Sheridan said...

James, Rebecca is at the tip top of the kind of things I usually read. My favorite book of all time. That's my usual thing--dark, atmospheric, etc. Plus, I'm a published erotic romance writer. And yet, this inspirational was sooo moving and beautiful and I couldn't put it down! It has some darkness in it as well. Maybe that's one of the things I found so attractive. This is NOT a sunny, cheery book (although the happily ever after is beautiful!). But it definitely drags you through the darkness before the characters find the joy at the end!

DonnaGalanti said...

Lovely post! That's the amazing thing about books - that we can find something we never thought we'd love. I did that with YA. I decided to challenges myself last year to write a YA novel. It was challenging and hard, but I did it and fell in love with it. Now I read a lot of YA myself, and find I enjoy more than some adult fiction. I also read my fist zombie novel last year my teacher writer, Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry and loved it. Deep into the sequel. Its not focused on zombies but the horror and goodness of humanity. I guess this can be found of any new thing we read - often our assumptions of them can be wrong and we discover a new love! Nice to be on the A to Z with you!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, I was thinking of you when I put that pic up.

We did have some nice visits and libation on your patio. It's very peaceful where you live even though it's the suburbs. I think my yard would look so much prettier if I had a pool like yours.

Why yes, I'm lusting after your pool. lol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Donna, there are a lot of YA (upper end age)I love to read. Perhaps because the story can't use sex, or a lot of it, as a shortcut. Even the romantic elements in the YA take more time to develop and that's especially so with fantasy and paranormal.

This time around, I'm a supporter of A-Z--too many ongoing projects to be a full participant. I've found some great blogs in the process. :-)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Most Christian fiction isn't preachy. I would really enjoy this.

Leigh Covington said...

I was going to comment on this and then I got distracted by the rockin hot bod in your side column. CAN'T. STOP. STARING!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good thing I keep plenty of drinkables to keep you from being dehydrated, Leigh. Here,*hands Leigh a napkin, you have a bit of drool on your lip there.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kat Sheridan said...

Donna, I haven't read much YA, other than of course Harry Potter, but so many people love it. I'll have to give it a try! Still trying to get brave enough to read somebodies. A writer I love and respect, Dana Fredsti, has a new zombie novel out, Plague Town, and I love other things she writes, so I'm going to give it a try. In daylight, with all the lights on!

Kat Sheridan said...

Sia, *I* lust after my pool, too! I can hardly wait until it's warm enough to take off the cover and jump in!

Kat Sheridan said...

L. Diane, I learning that. There is another terrific historical inspy called Redeeming the Rogue by CJ Chase, and I loved that one as well! But see, I got caught in the trap of thinking that Christian romance would have Bible readings on every other page and icky sweet characters or something (no clue WHY I thought that.) Being the occassional of erotic romance, I'd also been smacked a few times by folks characterizing inspirational as "clean" romance, and my stuff as "dirty" and it ticked me off more than a little. Felt "preachy".

I confess, I read this one because I KNOW Nancy, and I like her as a beautiful and amazing person, and because I really love lush historicals and good writing and I knew Nancy would provide that. But then I discovered how deftly and compassionatel and sublty she handled the Christian aspects of it and was just blown away by how lovely it was.

Kat Sheridan said...

Leigh, yeah, I sort of got a bit tongue tied by the same thing!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, I just remember how lovely it was to sit out there on the patio, with a good cuppa, and see that sparkling chunk of blue.

I told hubs we need a pool. Of course I've been saying that for several years for all the good it's done me. Now he tell me that with the kid about ready to fly the coop, it wouldn't get much use...

*winged brow

Wanna bet?

Kat Sheridan said...

Sia, you TOTALLY need a pool. Not only is it good mental therapy, it's great for exercising without causing damage-I'm really looking forward to being able to gently exercise the ankle.

Oh, and just because I know Nancy, it didn't influence my feelings about the book. If I DIDN'T know her, after reading this book I would probably have turned into creepy-stalker-fan and would have hunt her down, because I liked it so much! OK, so I'm creepy-stalker-fan anyway. Nancy doesn't mind.

Much. LOL!

Tonja said...

No, I've never read inspirational romance - my assumption would be that it's not for me. Good that you tried it out.

The Golden Eagle said...

I've only read a few books in the inspirational fiction category--I actually picked them up by accident since they were shelved with other general fiction. It's definitely true that a well-written story can just be a great read, regardless of what it's called. :)


The Golden Eagle
The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Sun Singer said...

It's nice to be proven wrong sometimes when a book you thought you wouldn't like turns out to be great. I tend to stay away from romances; if a book was billed as "inspirational/Christian romance," that would be a red flag for me for pretty much the same reasons you mentioned here. But really, the book looks like a keeper.

Malcolm

Candilynn Fite said...

I tend to steer from Inspirational Romances myself. But, the review on this one sounds wonderful enough to try. :))

Years ago I wouldn't have read a historical fiction if you slapped me over the head with the hardcover. Until...Outlander by Gabaldon. Can I just say, WOW. Historical, mesmerizing, powerful, romantic, and simply breathtaking novel.

I loved it instantly. Then, I went and wrote my own, no comparison to Outlander, but historical fiction none the less.

Breaking the bounds of my comfort zone produced one of my favorite books today. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I've read two inspirational romances. One was a bit preachy, but the other wasn't at all. Nice to meet you, Kat.

Waves to Sia :)

Kat Sheridan said...

Sorry for posting responses late--Google didn't like me! Tonja, I made the same assumption as you and I've never been so happy to be wrong.

Golden Eagle, glad you read the inspys, even if it was an accident. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed this one!

Malcolm, I read all sorts of things, romance among them. What I loved so much about this one is that although there was tons of focus on the relationship, equal time was given to the plot around the romance, and it was so rich in period details.

Candilynn, how WONDERFUL that something you thought you wouldn't like opened such a door for you! Best of luck with your own writing! (And yes, this one is one my keeper shelf!)

Nice to meet you, too, Carol! And there's nothing preachy at all in The Irish Healer. Just people like the rest of us, floundering around, trying to find their place in the world, and the meaning in their lives. Beautiful