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Summary

Before his father offered to shelter Wylie's two sons, nothing could lure Wylie Macpherson back to Scotland. But after a bitter 25-year exile, his homecoming proves harder than anticipated. Instead of the scorn he expected, he's faced with the relief of a struggling village long awaiting his return. All Wylie wants is to retreat to his ship, yet the tug of his memories and responsibilities is difficult to ignore.

Having lost one man to the sea, Anna Macrae is cynical of men chasing dreams across oceans when everything one could want - family, community, friends - can be found in the Highlands. Though preoccupied hiding her father's infirmity while managing his business in his stead, she can't help but notice Wylie's sons need a parent, and their father is too absorbed in his own grief and anger to notice. As she grows close to them, her traitorous heart begins to spin fantasies of a life not meant to be.

Blindsided by a barrage of painful memories, Wylie pays little heed to the heat building between himself and Anna until he finds he can think of nothing else. Will he flee once again, or will he fight one more battle to claim the sweetest of prizes?

A poignant story of love, loss, and coming home, A Thimbleful of Honor is set in the heart of Scotland's Highlands, 25 years after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion.

©2020 Linda Lee Graham (P)2020 Linda Lee Graham

Critic reviews

"With two multilayered protagonists and a strong foundation laid for sequels, this eloquent mix of historical fiction and romance will appeal to fans of both genres." (BookLife Reviews)

"Years of resentment and a passionate romance throw a man into turmoil when he returns to the Scottish Highlands in this novel...intriguing until the end." (Kirkus Reviews)

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A wonderful story of family, forgiveness, and love

This was a very good romantic historical fiction, laying fertile ground for a strong and intriguing series looking at post-1745 Scottish life and culture through the lens of a MacPherson family’s trials and triumphs. I went in expecting dense historical narratives with characters at the center of some historical reality. Objectively, this could come off that way if all you read is HR Wallpaper, but I think what Graham’s A Thimbleful of Honor offers is more of an insight into Highland culture and life after the Uprisings and 1770s middle/merchant class—which to me is different from the romantic historical fictions from Stella Riley or Kate Mosse, for instance. I also went into this expecting a harrowing love story, but was instead greeted with something slow and quiet rather than gripping. That is not to say that this detracted from the pleasure that this story gives, but just that reviews are chalking it up to something emotionally turbulent and epic when that is not this book at all. Rather, it felt like a gentle story of forgiveness, family, and—as the title decrees—honor.

The story circles on a group of multi-dimensional characters, including both the educated and village-dwelling Scots of a Highland parish, with the emotionally damaged Wiley and sweet, strong-willed Anna at the epicenter, as various players attempt to overcome twenty five years of unrequited love, betrayal, and misunderstandings. It is well developed, if a little ambivalent in tone at times but I think maybe Graham did this so as not to pass particular judgement on any individual misdeed. I frequently found myself wondering if there could be a happy way forward—if Wiley would marry Anna only to leave for the colony of Florida scarce years before the American Revolution (a very uncertain future to be sure), if they would compromise and remain in Scotland, if Wiley would leave Anna and his boys behind, if George and Wiley would ever reconcile... It was all exhausting, but in a good way, as I knew I was invested in the character’s lives. I had some issues with Wiley’s treatment of Anna and their mutual journey towards their HEA but recognize that the best endings are usually met after a not-so-smooth journey, and I think this applies here.

As for Alex Wyndham, I am a devoted listener to his narrations and he did not let me down. I saw the highland landscape on the cover, and his name as narrator and was instantly sold. I remember being so impressed with his Welsh accent in A Splendid Defiance and Scottish accent in The Player (both by Stella Riley) and knew he’d manage lots of Scottish brogues with aplomb and he did not disappoint. His vocal choices were good, my favourite being Will’s soft French accent and Alec’s not-so-crisp-upper crust English one... hopefully if he continues to narrate for this series he doesn’t change them.

Overall, I think this was very, very good and I will patiently wait for more from Graham’s MacPherson stories. Highly recommend if you are looking for something different, and want a stories in contexts outside the aristocracy. This is a very well researched (from the different oat cakes, to peat cutting and preparation, to Kirk [church] council dynamics) and well delivered, and I found it quite delightful.

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