With her third historical, Eileen Charbonneau continues her winning record of memorable stories and
strong characterizations. The hero and heroine of this novel, despite their different heritages, are
perfectly matched, and definitely get my vote for Couple of the Year. If you haven't discovered this
talented author by now, you are missing out on something special.
As a child, Rachel LeMoyne endured the loss of her parents and baby sister during a tragic forced exile
from their Choctaw homeland in Mississippi. Fifteen years later she carefully bridges two cultures in her
new Oklahoma home – the traditional Indian beliefs of her surviving brother and the teachings of the
Presbyterian missionaries who raised her. But Rachel's precariously balanced world is about to spin out
The prosperous Choctaw nation has volunteered to send a shipment of corn abroad to help the starving
Irish during the famine of 1847. Rachel is asked to accompany the mission because both the Choctaw and
the missionaries trust her. When she arrives in Ireland, she is shocked by the treatment the Irish endure
at the hands of the British landowners. Trying to find someone who can operate a mill to grind the corn
into something edible, she discovers Darragh Ronan, whose entire family has perished gruesomely during
the famine. He can fix anything mechanical, but he has used his skills in ways considered treasonous and
now lives in hiding. More wraith than human, he is rescued almost against his will by Rachel and
smuggled onto the ship as it returns to America.
The Ireland episode, based on a genuine historical event, sets up a brilliant match between Darragh and
Rachel. In fact, it's so perfect I wonder why no one has thought of the combination before. Both
characters claim heritages that are deeply rooted in the spirit world. Both know what it is like to face
prejudice and persecution. As they try to find a life together in America, along with Rachel's brother
Atoka, both use their talents for passing themselves off as something other than what they are – Rachel as
a Frenchwoman and Darragh as an Englishman – but they both long to be able to claim their own
identities without fear of reprisal. Their relationship changes from respect and protectiveness to love as
they recognize their kindred spirits. As with all of Charbonneau's novels, we have the pleasure of
watching two strong and honorable characters find love without any dreaded games or misunderstandings.
While the heroines in Charbonneau's previous two novels paled a bit in comparison to the strong heroes,
Rachel's quiet capacity to protect, teach, endure and love make her the standout character in this story.
As she reclaims her heritage she also regains the confidence that the missionaries have depleted from her.
Darragh is an admirable guy whose Irish war cry saves the day more than once, but I found his appeal to
be less striking than the author's previous leading men. The older brother/youngest sister dynamics
between Rachel and Atoka that illustrate both traditional and changing Indian roles are exquisitely
portrayed, and at times threaten to overshadow the romance.
Charbonneau's trademark communication between her main characters and the ghosts of departed loved
ones is less evident here than in her two previous historicals. This contributes to more direct but no less
effective story. In fact, I found myself wishing there were a little more of the novel than 300 pages. I
wouldn't have minded spending 500 or 600 pages with Rachel, Darragh and Atoka. And isn't that what a
great read is all about?
By the way, if you're reluctant to spend the big bucks to buy Rachel LeMoyne, put it on your library list
and then go buy Eileen Charbonneau's previous 5-heart novel, The Randolph Legacy, which is now
available in paperback.