Set in 1755, beginning in Donegal, Ireland, this is the story of Henry McConnell and his father, Edward, farmers who assume false names and escape debts and drought in Ireland to sail to the New World. Before they leave, Henry’s father gives him their most treasured possession, passed from one son to another: a gold torc from their ancestor, Somerled.
The night before the ship sails, Henry finds love in the arms of a widow named Sarah. On the ship, Henry reconnects with a childhood friend, Mary Patterson. Both men realize their love for but they are separated from them by distance (in the case of Sarah) and in the case of Mary, when a man purchases her indenture.
After a grueling ship journey (very well done by the author), Henry and his father travel deep into the frontier. That journey is also very well told. It’s an exciting one. I felt like I was trudging along with them with their one ox and their blistered feet. I could see the beauty of this new world and yet feared the obstacles they faced. Constant setbacks have them worried about their seed and their lives: Indian attacks, the threat of new forts, a bear stealing the food they laid up for the winter and many other hardships.
In this romance, the two heroes are separated from their ladyloves for much of the book. The women are still in their minds and hearts but not with them. When they finally get word of both Sarah and Mary, the men go after them, but a villain is stalking the precious torc.
Doherty’s research shines through as she brings America’s wilderness and this period in America’s history to life. Her descriptions are vivid and the historical era well presented. She captures the Scots-Irish longing for freedom and their commitment to the new land, notwithstanding the trials they must endure.
A uniquely told tale, it’s also a fast-paced, action-packed story that is a delight to read. I recommend it.