The book opens with U.S. Marshal Ian Cawley chasing an outlaw on horseback into a small Missouri town. At the appearance of a ghostly dancing light, his horse panics and crashes into a barn. The outlaw gets away and Ian, who has lost his wallet and badge in the chase, wakes up with amnesia. He has no idea who he is. In fact he could be an outlaw because the local hills are infested with them, including the real-life notorious James-Younger gang led by Jesse James.
The barn belongs to a young woman Lyric who lives with her younger sister Lark and mother. The three women are shunned by the townsfolk because of the mom’s mental illness (clearly bipolar disorder), and Lyric has resigned herself to never getting married because she might inherit her mom’s condition. Interestingly, Lark doesn’t feel this way at all and wants to stay in town whereas Lyric longs to escape as soon as their difficult mom dies and she can somehow find the money to relocate.
When Lyric finds Ian, she assumes he is an outlaw and she can nurse him back to health and then turn him in for the reward money. When she tries to identify Ian (whom she’s named Joseph) by looking at wanted posters down at the sheriff’s office, this unfortunately draws the attention of the sheriff and his deputies who are super enthusiastic about having a hanging. Any hanging will do. It doesn’t even matter if they can’t conclusively identify Ian because he’s probably an outlaw anyway, and it will be good for the town’s morale. But then Ian and Lyric start to fall in love.
The Healer’s Touch is an entertaining read. One problem I had involves Ian’s decision to set a plan into motion that he keeps secret from Lyric for “her own good.” As a method of generating conflict, this type of plot twist is a bit timeworn. But overall this is a warm and sweet Christian inspirational romance. Rather than feeling preachy, the spiritual parts will probably strike even modern readers as a natural outgrowth of the historic setting. This is a time period in which almost everyone had the Bible memorized, and Christian readers especially will appreciate the sincere and perceptive application of Scripture to these characters' lives. Lyric and Ian are an appealing couple who deserve their happy ending. Little sister Lark is an especially strong character who could use her own book as she pursues her reluctant 17 year-old love-interest Murphy.
Type of Romance: Male-Female Romance
Title: The Healer’s Touch
Author: Lori Copeland
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Subgenre: Historical Romance, Christian Inspirational Romance
Setting: Small town Missouri USA in 1887
Sex scenes: Level 1 - none (See “Levels of Explicitness” in Related Links below)
Viewpoint: alternating third-person (Lyric, Ian) sometimes on the same page.
Note: I received this book via the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for this review from author or publisher. (Buy link to come upon book’s release date 8/1.)