Caught in a violent storm, Dulcie and her band of rag-tag war orphans arrive on Jermain Island meet the Jermain family: three brothers, each retreating from the horrors of the war. Darwin seeks solace in his books, Barclay in whiskey and gambling, while Cal Jermain retreats into darkness, for what good is a one-handed doctor?
Though Cal is attracted to Dulcie, from the start he shows his feelings with anger. His hurt is hard to heal and he cannot find it within himself to trust and believe in Dulcie.
Dulcie and her family try to earn their keep. Little by little, they worm their way in the hearts of their benefactors. When a fire strikes the barn, Dulcie and the Jermains work together to put out the blaze, and Cal realizes that he must accept Dulcie's family's help.
As both families work side by side, the wounds begin to heal. Darwin begins teaching the children, Barclay takes a good look at his life, and when one of the children is injured, Cal must use his doctor's skills. Dulcie becomes his other hand and their joy at the boys' recovery brings their passion to the surface.
In their happiness, Cal and Dulcie forget that Dulcie is keeping a secret, and when that terror follows her to the island, everyone bands together. From evil and fear comes understanding and then healing, giving freedom to love.
DULCIE'S GIFT is a tender, heart-warming story full of marvelous characters who tug at your heartstrings. Ruth Langan is a true master at involving your emotions, be they laughter or tears. Her books are definitely worth the time.SENSUAL (July, 400 pp., $4.99)