Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Mine is the Night (Kerr #2) - Liz Curtis Higgs

Elisabeth and Marjory Kerr arrive in Selkirk stripped of their titles and riches, in desperate hope that a distant relative will take pity on them and offer them her home. Entering Annie’s one-room lodging, the former Ladies Kerr find themselves building a new life that could not be further from the one they lived in Edinburgh, before their men were taken from them in the Jacobite Rebellion. While Marjory learns to be a housekeeper, a job she once employed another woman to do for her, Elisabeth picks up her needle and is determined to provide for her mother-in-law and cousin with the skill that God has blessed her with. Soon, her quick needle propels her into Lord Jack Buchanan’s home, where she finds herself outfitting his new maids for a very handsome income. Unable to shake off the remnants of her noble life, her stature and speech quickly bring her to the attention of Jack, in whom she finds a kindred spirit and new friend. But Elisabeth knows that she could never pursue a relationship with a man of such standing, for fear that he might bring her family back to the attention of King George and Lord Mark Kerr, who are determined to wipe out anyone who aided the Jacobite cause. Have she and her mother-in-law truly escaped the worst of their troubles? Can Elisabeth trust the Lord enough to believe that he can bring joy back into her life after all of her losses?

Having read Here Burns My Candle not that long ago, I found myself surprised by the much lighter, happier tone to its sequel. That’s not to say that the characters didn’t have their trials and struggles; after all, this is eighteenth century Scotland and no one exactly breezed through life, least not noble women who had lost their titles to the Jacobite cause. But if you’re expecting something akin to the heartbreaking events that occurred in Here Burns My Candle, you’ll be relieved to hear that the Kerr women finally receive their much awaited happy endings. While I did occasionally feel that life was drifting along a bit too smoothly for these women, especially in light of so much suffering in the previous book, on the whole I felt that Mine is the Night was a perfect example of how God can take a life that’s been near destroyed and make it whole again.

As with her previous novel, Liz has clearly done her research, and I honestly believe that I got an authentic feel of eighteenth century Selkirk and what it was like to be a single woman in this period. Although I would class this novel as a historical romance, the historical detail is essential to the novel and not merely an added extra. From Elisabeth’s occupation as a seamstress to trips to the market to the dilapidated state of the church to the inner workings of Jack’s home, Liz has got every detail perfect. Even if you’re not an avid reader of romances, this novel is worth reading in order to understand the trails of eighteenth century life and the difficulties met by women who had to support themselves and their families. There are some fascinating sections at the back of the novel on Liz’s research on Selkirk, which I’m now determined to visit – after all, I’m one of the fortunate readers who actually lives in Scotland!

While the prequel focused mainly on the relationship between Elisabeth and her mother-in-law, Marjory, I would consider Mine is the Night to be more of a conventional historical romance. Although we witness the women interacting, the majority of the novel focuses on the development of romantic relationships: between Elisabeth and Jack, Annie and a local man, and Marjory – whose relationship I will keep secret as it’s too sweet to spoil! Jack’s wooing of our heroine is just as it should be in a romance novel and I adored reading the development of their relationship. Jack isn’t usually the type of hero that appeals to me, but he and Elisabeth were clearly perfect for each other and Jack fits his role just right. Those of you who bemoaned Elisabeth’s troubled relationship with Donald in the previous book will find this one a refreshing, pleasant change.

In a way, amongst all the blossoming relationships and luscious landscapes of Scotland, I did miss the action and drama of Here Burns My Candle. I’d have to say that I didn’t love Mine is the Night quite as much as its predecessor, but I still fell in love with it for entirely different reasons. I was so pleased to see all of the characters recovering from their devastations and finally receiving their much deserved happy endings. On the whole, this is a wonderful story and the perfect example of how God can bring something brilliant out of a bleak and hopeless looking situation. Even days after I’d finished the novel, I found myself dwelling on the times that God has brought me out of dark times and blessed me abundantly. I hope that other women find themselves similarly uplifted by the lives of the Kerr women. 9/10

This book was generously provided by Waterbrook in return for an honest review.

Look out for a contest to win this book next week at The Christian Manifesto!

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