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Miss Leslie's Secret by Jennifer Moore
Decorated war hero Conall Stewart has spent ten years envisioning his return to his beloved Scottish Highlands. But now, with the days of battle finally behind him, it seems that his dreams of home have been in vain: the land of his youth lies in ruins, and his family is gone. Though he will never stop searching for his kin, Conall knows he must begin again. But when he takes on a rented farm in a nearby town, he finds far more than the fresh start he was looking for.
After catching a mischievous local lad stealing, Conall returns young Jamie to his mother, Aileen Leslie and finds the woman's coddling of the child maddening. What Conall does not realize is that Aileen hides a frightening secret: her devoted protection of Jamie is all that shelters them from discovery by a dangerous man from their past. Drawn together by circumstance, Conall soon develops a fatherly relationship with Jamie as well as romantic feelings for Aileen. But even as the couple accepts their growing affection for one another, time runs out for Aileen and her son: after years of hiding, they have been found. Conall lost his family once he will do all in his power not to let history repeat itself.
Let's get the negative out of the way first. The Scottish brogue. It was kind of distracting. Granted, the story takes place in Scotland, so of course they're going to speak like that. But I find it a lot easier to get lost in a story if I don't have to keep stumbling over pronunciations. But really, that's just a minor complaint. Other than that, I enjoyed this story.
Aileen is a spitfire, and she guards her son Jamie with a fierceness only a mother could understand. Yes, she was way too permissive with him in the beginning, but it's easy enough to understand why, given her history. I loved how Jamie matured with Conall's influence. He was a sweet child and just needed a father figure in his life. I admit, I don't know much (well, anything really) about the whole landowner thing that caused so many people to lose their homes, like in this story. I think it would be interesting to research and learn more about it. I was a little underwhelmed with the climax to the story, but I do like how it was resolved - it just seemed to happen a bit easier than I would have liked. All in all, a great book that I would recommend to others.
I have really enjoyed Jennifer Moore's books, so I was very excited for the opportunity to review Miss Leslie's Secret. I haven't read many books that take place in Scotland, so the historical situation was somewhat eye opening for me. Moore did a good job of making the reader feel for the hardship and heartache the people had gone through.
I can get held up in books when the dialogue or unfamiliar words interrupt the flow, but surprisingly that wasn't really a problem for me with Miss Leslie's Secret. I also appreciated that when Celtic words or terms were used the author usually shared them in a way that also told what they meant.
Moore created a great setting with likable characters. The superstitions added a fun and interesting aspect to the story. The first half was more intriguing to me than the last half, and as such I didn't devour this like some of her other books, but it was worth the read.
My favorite thing about Jennifer Moore's stories is the setting. I love how she takes a time frame and goes somewhere different with it. I know there are a lot of books set in Scotland, but I haven't read many of them, and I loved being taken there with her characters in Miss Leslie's Secret.
The characters were great (especially Aileen's elderly neighbor), and I enjoyed the storyline. Things maybe got wrapped up a bit soon at the end, but it was all wrapped up. It is a quick read, and content wise it has a small bit of human slavery in it, and talk of being in a war, oh, and kissing, but sweet kissing not gross :)
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Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: September 2017
Source: We received copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.