The first novel in the Celtic-Arthurian Bride of Alba series, Healer centers on Brenna of Gowrys. After ensuring the safety of her infant daughter with a trusted nurse, Brenna’s mother killed herself to escape the clutches of the neighboring O’Byrne clan leader, who murdered her husband moments before. The dying woman prophesied about her daughter, forcing Brenna to live as a fugitive in the wilds with only Faol, her wolf, as her companion. But the early guidance of her nurse and a mentoring monk has helped Brenna hone her God-given healing skills, and with the monk’s assistance, she secretly restores local people to health, even though her acts of mercy and kindness place her at great risk.
Together Brenna and Faol fend off an unknown assailant who attacks and severely injuries a stranger. Brenna drags the victim to her cave home, where she heals and restores him, unaware that he is Ronan, the O’Byrne prince—eldest son and heir of her father’s murderer—who doesn't reveal his identity until they fall in love (which Windsor honestly portrays without the extremes of explicit detail or unrealistic purity).
Brenna is a strong woman of God with a warrior’s spirit on many levels, although she also can be sweet and spunky. Some might think she’s too perfect, but I tend to think she knows who she is in Christ and reflects well the verse in Matthew 11:12 that says violent men, or women in this case, seize the kingdom of heaven by force as a precious prize—with most ardent zeal and intense exertion (Amplified version). Her faith and trust in God inspires me to seek Him more diligently to please Him and fulfill my own destiny.
Prince Ronan witnessed the deaths of Brenna’s parents as a young child, which left him emotionally wounded and disturbed about the conflicts between the clans. He is the typical royal hero, strong, handsome, courageous, and willing to do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones and clan members. Though he struggles with great emotional pain, God leads him to the realization that total surrender will afford the peace Ronan craves—but at a price he isn’t always willing to pay. He discovers his greatest battles aren’t with enemies who live in or outside his clan, but rather within himself.
I found the romance element a bit predictable—isn’t that’s the nature of romances?—but cloaking it in brilliantly woven Christian/Druid history and intrigue keeps the pace of this story intense and fast-moving. The author’s attention to detail continually stirred my senses and made me feel like I was in the middle of the story world with very real people. Not only is Windsor well-versed in the history of this age, but also the culture and mindset of its inhabitants.
I was moved and thrilled by the spiritual warfare sprinkled throughout the book, which portrays God as the One who answers prayer, uses yielded vessels mightily, and causes good to overcome evil, albeit not always in the ways we humans would prefer. The growth and change of various characters give the book a strong take-home message and a satisfying ending and promises more of the same in Thief, Book Two of the series, featuring a villainous character from Healer, who wrestles with the convicting power of the Cross and the sins of his past. Assuming Windsor uses the same storytelling skills she did in Healer, I expect it to be another terrific read.
Please note the following disclaimer: In accordance with Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255, this book was sent to me directly from the author's publicist and as such constitutes compensation for my review. All opinions are strictly my own.