by Liz Arnold
A Healing Touch transports us to Northwest America in the late 18th century. Female doctors are unheard of but Molly Hilliard wants to change this. After training in Baltimore under family friend, Dr Andrew West, she decides to travel to the town of Marietta to reunite with her family and set up her own medical practice. Along the way, she encounters Romney Applewood, a man captured by Delaware Indians from a young age and who is searching for his long-lost sister. As Molly and Romney’s paths collide, their best laid plans begin to unravel…
If you like romantic historical fiction with emphasis on the history, then I cannot recommend A Healing Touch enough. It’s accomplished, engrossing and provides an excellent and sympathetic reconstruction of a historical period. From the beginning, the prose is confident, driven and nicely detailed. There is a surprise twist with a fairly central character early on which was a really good idea as it elevated the story and added a different dimension to the plot. For the first few chapters and before they meet, there is a switch between Molly’s life and Romney’s. It builds interest and gives the reader a real sense of who they both are, their conflicts and backgrounds before they finally encounter each other. Once they do meet, the chapters flit between various third person points of view which creates depth and layer to the narrative. The story is fairly uncomplicated and linear which adds to the overall readability. However, there are parts which are nail-biting, tense stuff and, consequently it becomes a really exciting read. I thought all the characters were well-rounded, even minor ones and the dialogue was enjoyably authentic. The chemistry and scenes between Molly and Romney are sensitively handled but sizzling nonetheless and their time together adds to the narrative rather than overshadows it. During the middle of the novel, the pace slowed a touch and I thought the ending was a little abrupt but the period detail is so wonderfully realised and the story so nicely crafted that it did not detract.
An immensely enjoyable, polished and historically immersive read. Highly recommended.