Goddess Born by Kari Edgren

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Pennsylvania, 1730

Selah Kilbrid keeps a dangerous secret: she has the power to heal.

A direct descendent of the Celtic goddess Brigid, it’s Selah’s sacred duty to help those in need. But as the last of the Goddess Born living in the New World, she learned from an early age to keep her supernatural abilities hidden. The Quaker community of Hopewell has always been welcoming, but there’s no doubt they would see her hanged if her gift was revealed.

When a prominent minister threatens to try her with witchcraft unless she becomes his wife, Selah has only one hope—that her betrothed, a distant cousin from Ireland, arrives as planned. Marrying Samuel would keep her secret safe, preserve her sacred bloodline, and protect her from being charged as a witch.

But when news of Samuel’s death reaches the Colonies, Selah is truly on her own. Terrified, she faces an impossible choice—forfeit her powers and marry the loathsome Nathan? Or find an imposter to pose as her husband and preserve her birthright?

Publisher and Release Date: Carina Press, May 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Colonial America (18th century)
Genre: New Adult Historical Romance (with paranormal elements)
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Jenny Q

A descendant of the Celtic goddess Brigid, eighteen-year-old Selah Kilbrid has the power of healing, though she must use it carefully and under the guise of the limited medical knowledge of the eighteenth century or else risk raising the fears of the superstitious community in which she lives. But with the death of her beloved father, Selah is a young woman alone in a world very much ruled by men. Hounded by Nathan, a Quaker elder obsessed with making her his bride, Selah has one chance to stay true to her heritage and fulfill the sacred duty entrusted to her by the goddess: she must get to Philadelphia to marry a man she has never met, her cousin Samuel, due to arrive from Ireland any day. As a fellow Kilbrid, Samuel knows about Selah’s gift and is sworn to protect her. But when Selah arrives in Philadelphia, she discovers that Samuel tragically died on the voyage over, and she is now truly alone. But she is unable to reconcile her fate of marrying a fanatical man and hiding her gift until it eventually withers away, so when she stumbles on an indentured servant auction and locks eyes with a handsome man who seems oddly out of place, she crafts a bold and daring plan. She purchases Henry Alan and convinces him to pose as her new husband.

Nathan is furious at having his plans thwarted, and soon rumors of witchcraft start to swirl. As if pretending to be married isn’t stressful enough – and they do get off to a rocky start – Selah and Henry find themselves the target of threats and eerie happenings, and as the situation grows more intense and Selah’s life is endangered, Henry vows to protect her at all costs. Torn between her growing feelings for Henry, her secret obligation to the goddess, and the rising suspicions of her fellow townsfolk, Selah resolves to carry on as best she can, but will she be able to defend herself against the ultimate charge of being a witch? And when the truth is finally revealed to Henry, will he stand by her side or turn against her? And what will Selah do when she discovers Henry is hiding a pretty big secret of his own?

I really wanted to love this book. And there were things about it that I did love, but there were also some things that I didn’t. For example, it seemed as though a few steps were missed between Selah and Henry growing tolerant of each other and then declaring their love for each other. I felt like I missed out on that dance of emotions in between, and so it made the declarations less satisfying. I also found the behavior of the villains of the story to be too over-dramatic to be believable. I like a heroine who can get herself out of a jam once in a while, and Selah had to be rescued too many times. And finally, I was not a fan of the ending. I felt like a whole other chapter of the journey was just beginning, but instead it ended, and without enough closure for me. But now I know that this was intentional as this is apparently the first book in a trilogy. It would have been nice if there had been a “to be continued in book two” notice so I was not left shaking my head! So I won’t count that against the book. But I’ve read through my friends’ reviews – all of whom are loving it – and none of them mentioned my hang-ups, so they may be just that, MY hang-ups. I read a lot of romances, so I tend to be tough on them. So that being said, don’t let me dissuade you from reading what is definitely one of the more original romances I’ve read in some time. Which leads me to what I did like about this book…

I adore novels set in Colonial America, and the small Pennsylvania village of Hopewell comes to life in this story, complete with depictions of day-to-day life, friends and neighbors, Native American visitors, the customs of the time, and the clash of co-existing religious beliefs. I also loved how Celtic mythology from the Old World was woven into the canvas via Selah’s heritage. And Selah is a worthy heroine to root for: she’s smart, compassionate, and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. I didn’t feel like I really got to know Henry quite as well, but I’m hoping that will be remedied in the other books, and what we do get to see of him in this story is quite swoon-worthy. The novel is well written, the plot is perfectly paced, and I burned through the pages, anxious to solve the mystery of who was really behind the witchcraft paranoia engulfing the village and to see if Selah and Henry would be able to overcome their differences and find a happily ever after. With a unique setting, a touch of magic, tons of historical context, and a couple to fall in love with, Goddess Born is a welcome addition to the historical romance genre, and I look forward to future books from Kari Edgren.

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