Jamie McKie and his brother Evan are twins...and yet they are not. Evan was born before midnight on Wednesday; Jamie was born after midnight on Thursday. In Irish culture in the late 1700's, the firstborn is given the father's land and money when the father is gone. But this family is destined to be different. After the prophecy from the Almighty, "The older will serve the younger," the boys' mother makes sure that this happens, through deceiving her blind husband into thinking that Jamie is his hairier and stouter brother Evan. When Evan threatens to kills Jamie, Jamie goes to Auchengray at his mother's wishes to a make a bride from one of his two cousins, Leana and Rose. While the journey to Auchengray is trying, his stay with his family is even more so, and Jamie must learn what real love is before his whole life is ruined.
To anyone who has read the story of Jacob and Rachel in the Bible, this is a familiar story. To me, it was like looking at the back of my hand - at least, for the first seventy-five pages or so. Up until that point the story is almost exactly like the Bible story, only, of course, in a different setting and era. But as soon as Jamie arrives at Auchengray, I was at a loss to what would happen. The Bible story is written without the many details of your average love story; it gives only the details needed, those that are important. However, to create a whole novel based on this story, Liz Curtis Higgs had to add things. Some may have been true, and some may not have been. However, Higgs fills her story with her own bright and lovely characters, a few of her own twists and turns, and and ending that you'll never forget, and one that will make you go wild to get the second one in your hands.
For one thing, this story very plainly shows deep and thoroughly felt emotions. Jamie, Leana, and Rose are all wronged in the story, creating strife, anger, love, jealousy, and ravaging terror. As you read it your emotions will change with the emotions of the character you are reading about at the moment; and then, when time comes to change perspective, you will feel exactly what that character is feeling. Your view of the story will change multiple times; you will suddenly think completely differently about things that you once believed to be true; your eyes will be opened and all you will be able to do is keep reading.
Liz Curtis Higgs is very learned in Irish culture and is also very skilled with her pen. Lord knows how she was able to create such an intricate story of deceit and love and forgiveness while still keeping as close to the Bible story as possible, and giving the character more life than many authors ever dream of. As I stand thoroughly impressed, I highly recommend this hearty story of a braw lad and two of the bonniest lasses in Ireland.
(This book is an older romance novel; recommended for adults. Several scenes involve a couple's marriage bed and certain difficulties with this that have arisen from another character's deceitfulness. While these scenes are not, in a sense, explicit, they are at the very least very sensual.)