2015 National Readers Choice Award, Best Romance Novella
2015 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Best Novella
Lily's well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city's witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can't save her.
Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have the gift his clan needs - and he burns with passion for her - he's determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart. When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?
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Wonderful Yuletide Highlander Story!
The Gift by Margaret Mallory is a wonderful Christmas novella that is well written with well developed characters. This is a must read for fans of Margaret's The Return of the Highlander series (it's a prequel), and a great introduction for those unfamiliar with Margaret's books and her writing style.
The Gift centers around Lily who is fleeing London because of a widespread witch hunt within the city and, as a redheaded healer, she knows her days are numbered if she stays. To escape Lily boards a ship sailing north to Scotland. Little did she know that her big city ways were no match for the wilds of Scotland or for the ruggedly handsome and good natured Roderick MacDonald. Roderick saves Lily's life on more than one occasion and he eventually convinces her to travel home with him so she can learn from his grandmother who is an exceptional healer and seer. The rest of the story is their struggle to trust again after being hurt by others, with Lily struggling the most.
I listened to the Audible version of this book narrated by Derek Perkins, who did an admirable job. He clearly differentiated between male and female voices and changed the tempo in the performance when warranted.. Simply put, I highly recommend this audiobook!
A Fun and Enchanting Scottish Yuletide Romance!
THE GIFT: A HIGHLAND NOVELLA was an fun and enchanting Scottish Christmastide romance. Even though it's short in length, it was not rushed in the least and felt like a full story. I was mesmerized from the start and the narrator's performance was nothing short of swoon-worthy. I can attest that the book works very well as a standalone.
Since I enjoyed this prequel so much and have committed to listening to the rest of the series, I was glad to find out that this tale precedes The Return of the Highlander series by seventy two years and introduces the parents of famous seer Teàrlag, a key character in the author's Return of the Highlanders' series.
One scene that I've not been able to forget is when Roderick found Lily in the snow.
The scene begins as Roderick is on his way home after successfully completing a mission that his chieftain had assigned to him, when he comes upon a lad obviously near frozen to death in the snow. He rescues the lad, but quickly discovers that the lad is not as he seems.
“Good God, the lad is a lass!”
His grandmother had told him to keep his eyes out for a lass with "the gift." Could this be the lass his clan needs?
I can't just pick one! He performed all the characters with aplomb! He was superb! This was the first time I've listened to Derek Perkins. Oh my! He delivered a well-paced, professional performance enunciating a wonderful Scottish brogue. I could listen to him all day and remain infatuated. He seemingly effortlessly differentiated between the characters, so I always knew who was speaking. I would not hesitate to pick up another book that he has narrated. Indeed, I plan to seek other books he's voiced. This rendering had me adding additional workouts so I could hear more. As I neared the end, I noticed that I had thirty minutes left and I just couldn't leave it. I sat in my garage, closed my eyes and just listened. His performance was perfection as I hung on each word.
It most definitely was! When I saw that I only had thirty minutes left, I just couldn't leave it. I sat in my garage, closed my eyes and just listened.
This is the first book I've ever read by Margaret Mallory, but it will not be the last as I plan to pick up the rest of the series soon. You should know that this novella includes a wondrous epilogue that provides a truly perfect ending. It certainly left me with a huge smile. I know this fantastic prequel has certainly whetted my appetite to listen to more of this series and certainly more by this narrator. I highly recommend THE GIFT: A HIGHLAND NOVELLA to anyone who enjoys historical Scottish romances with an entrancing fantasy element.
- Linda Townsend