In Liz Curtis Higgs' latest work, she spins a story of love and deception, set among the Lowlands of Scotland in 1788, loosely based on the Biblical story of Leah, Rachel, Jacob and Esau.

Though Jamie McKie is minutes younger than his brother, Evan, he wishes to gain his father's blessing and thereby inherit the McKie land. By deceiving his blind father as to his identity, Jamie is able to obtain that blessing, resulting in a death threat delivered by Evan. Wishing to protect her favored son, Rowena sends Jamie away to her brother's home in East Galloway to choose a bride.

Upon arrival at Uncle Lachlan McBride's home, Jamie encounters his beauteous cousin, Rose, a precocious 15-year-old he last saw over a decade ago. While Rose's spirit captures Jamie's heart, her older sister, Leana, falls in love with him. As Rose garners more of Jamie's attention each day, Leana attempts, with quiet grace, to be worthy of his affection. When Leana's undesirable older suitor, Fergus, cries off due to a misunderstanding, 20-year-old Leana's prospects for marriage become dimmer. And a deception created by Lachlan puts more emotional distance between Leana and Jamie.

At once heart-wrenching and mesmerizing, Leana's unrequited love for Jamie will keep the reader engrossed in this love story. Anyone who has experienced the heartbreak of one-sided love can sympathize with Leana's plight. And Curtis Higgs's extensive historical research brings this novel to life, from the details of the Lowland livelihood to the importance of religion in the lives of these Scots. This remarkable tale of selfless love will live on in the hearts and minds of readers. (Mar., 464 pp., $13.99)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick