Keara Fagan is falsely accused of insurrection against the British and sentenced to indentured servitude in Australia. The Irish native escapes on a ship bound for America with no money and the clothes on her back. Now, she must stay on the run while trying to survive in a strange land.
As Dr. Elliot James travels by train from Philadelphia to York, a young woman faints at his feet. He’s sworn, as a physician, to aid the sick and injured, but fears this woman needs more than medical help. Enchanted by her beauty and touched by her dignity, he buys her a meal and offers her a place to stay in his small Pennsylvania town.
But a mysterious Irishman pursues her to the idyllic town surrounded by scenic farmland. Is he the abusive husband come to claim his runaway wife, or someone more sinister?
Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, September 22, 2013
Time and Setting: Post-Civil War America (New York and Pennsylvania)
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars
Review by Natalie
I was excited to review this book since I have done quite a bit of research on the Civil War and was aware that the lead male character, Dr. Elliot James, was connected to characters from Macatee’s Confederate Rose. Susan Macatee has been involved with Civil War re-enactments and I was excited to see more from her. It turns out that while the setting for The Physician’s Irish Lady was set Post-Civil War, the story had more to do with immigration and the struggle to plant roots on new soil.
We meet our female lead, a recent Irish immigrant named Keara, as she is preparing to board a train from Philadelphia to York, Pennsylvania. Keara is obviously in some kind of trouble and while on the train faints and falls under the care of Dr. Elliot James. Elliot is reluctant to leave Keara’s side sensing that she isn’t telling him truth about her troubles. When he realizes that no one is coming to collect her at the York train station he feels responsible for her well-being and insists that she stay with him and his elderly aunt.
Meanwhile, we find that Keara is being pursued by an individual bent on taking her back to New York. He claims to be her husband but can’t produce any believable proof that he has ownership over the lady. We meet several characters from the town who help Keara acclimate to her new life, including Dr James’ good friends (the lead characters from Confederate Rose). Elliot’s aunt surmises that the best way to keep Keara safe is to have Elliot marry her and bring her under his protection. The two quickly realize that they are both agreeable to this arrangement and while in the end it doesn’t keep Keara safe from her past it does bring the two together so that they can fight her demons.
This novella does exactly what it sets out to do; it creates an enchanting backstory for a minor character from a different book. The attraction between Keara and Elliot is obvious but the road to romance can seem a little stalled at times. Keara’s remarkable background is given only in snippets and is almost completely brushed over in the end, as are other elements that seemed very promising including themes of crime and Irish mysticism. It is understandable, given the length of this novella that Macatee couldn’t have as much character development as a regular full length novel, but it did leave me wishing there had been more room to fully explore some of those motifs. I will read Susan Macatee again because her understanding of the historical context is spot on but I do wish she had given a little more room for Keara and Elliot to grow.