I had hopes for this book after finishing Genevieve Graham’s debut, Under the Same Sky, which I loved. Sometimes a new author has a difficult time maintaining such excellence after a first book. So you can imagine my tad of hesitation as I began reading Sound of the Heart. Should I have been worried?
Not one bit. Ms. Graham writes like an old pro. The history is rich and deep. Her characters truly live the times, the emotion tugs at your soul, and her added twist of the paranormal is just the right amount to give readers a very satisfying read.
We meet Dougal MacDonnell again at roughly the same time his brother, Andrew, is escaping the aftermath of Culloden. Dougal, however, is a prisoner of war. The feeling of despair in the very inhumane conditions of the cells these prisoners are kept in and the treatment at the hands of the English make for difficult reading. It spears your heart, especially when you meet the two young boys have also been taken captive, Joseph and Aidan. Thank the heavens Dougal and his new friend John are there to keep those youngsters safe. It’s also the boys who devise a way to escape their prison. To wish all would go well for them is futile. Suffice it to say, it’s only Dougal and Aiden who make it out of that hell. They stay ahead of soldiers, make it to London and relative safety for the time being. The taste of freedom is exhilarating.
It’s when Dougal meets Glenna that his life is worth living again. They find an abandoned Highland home, small and cozy enough, where they live blissfully for ten years. This is an existence neither of them have dreamed of since the English had outlawed everything Scottish, from their plaid to their pipes. After such harshness of life so far in this book, this time with Dougal and Glenna is one of my favorites. Their love is first cemented in friendship, then lovers. It’s not without trouble, emotional and otherwise, but it’s a good life for them. They learn everything about one another – Dougal, especially, has a secret he’s never told anyone about, not even his brother Andrew, who he shares a close and psychic bond with – as they chip away at contentment and happiness.
Of course, in such chaotic times, that happiness can’t last forever, as Dougal and Glenna abruptly discover when out hunting during a long and cold winter. Suddenly surrounded by English soldiers, Glenna is taken into custody while Dougal is left for dead. Clawing his way back to consciousness and deciding that living is better than the alternative, he eventually finds himself part of the English army sent to the Colonies to help fight the French and the Indians, because he’s found out that’s where Glenna has been sent as an indentured servant. Once again, life has taken on a desperate and hard edge. It has been years since Glenna was taken and he knows nothing of her current plight; thus, after putting up with the English and their foreign way of fighting a war, Dougal contemplates desertion, something his honor abhors but his love needs.
As in the first book, Ms. Graham has divided the book into two parts between Dougal and Glenna, giving their perspective at that point in their lives. The last third of the book is Glenna’s. While I was ready to see things from her point of view, I nearly had a conniption when the author left me hanging at the end of Dougal’s section when he realizes his brother still lives. I calmed down and figured I’d see their reunion when it’s time. Little did I know how long that wait is going to truly be. But I digress. Glenna reaches the New World shores, after once again being stuffed into the cargo hold of a ship, and is immediately put on the auction block, her humiliation complete. However, she realizes her lot will be much better than other women sold into prostitution slavery. Her new “owner” is a tobacco plantation owner and he needs a teacher for his children. Because Glenna can read, she’s chosen for the job.
Her life turns out relatively good, the loss of Dougal her only nightmare. She believes him to be dead, so memories are all she has. Glenna enjoys her station with the children and family who’ve taken her in. But all good things must come to an end, and the next thing she knows she’s thrust into a life again not of her choosing and one that begins with violence and ends with her taking her destiny into her own hands. She brings to mind all the things Dougal taught her in their time together to outsmart the arrogant asshole who takes what he wants when he wants. Admiration for this woman goes up ten-fold for what she now endures and then conquers. By this time Dougal is closer to her than ever, and Glenna discovers this. Once again her intellect, cunning, and desire and need for Dougal outshine those around her, and she finds her man in the middle of a fierce battle. Nothing stands in her way.
Ms. Graham gives readers characters who defy the odds, who fight for survival with everything they’ve got. The Scottish spirit in the aftermath of Culloden is vanquished for only so long. Though Dougal and Glenna are no longer in their home country, they have that Highland drive that keeps them going, even the loss of the Scotland they love can’t break them. Their love is a real, living emotion between them and you feel it on every page, even when they’re not together. No punches are pulled throughout this book. The times are depicted quite vividly, and your compassion and ire are piqued in equal amounts.
I am so very glad I’ve been able to read these books, and I’m so very glad there are more to come. I’m looking forward to that meeting between brothers who thought the other had perished, only to find their link to each other again. But I’m also looking forward just to the beautiful writing and wonderful characters of Genevieve Graham. I’m a fan for life.
Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold.
Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies.
There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love.
No excerpt available.
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