Decorated war hero Conall Stewart has spent ten years envisioning his return to his beloved Scottish Highlands. But now, with the days of battle finally behind him, it seems that his dreams of home have been in vain: the land of his youth lies in ruins, and his family is gone. Though he will never stop searching for his kin, Conall knows he must begin again. But when he takes on a rented farm in a nearby town, he finds far more than the fresh start he was looking for.
After catching a mischievous local lad stealing, Conall returns young Jamie to his mother, Aileen Leslie—and finds the woman’s coddling of the child maddening. What Conall does not realize is that Aileen hides a frightening secret: her devoted protection of Jamie is all that shelters them from discovery by a dangerous man from their past. Drawn together by circumstance, Conall soon develops a fatherly relationship with Jamie—as well as romantic feelings for Aileen. But even as the couple accepts their growing affection for one another, time runs out for Aileen and her son: after years of hiding, they have been found. Conall lost his family once—he will do all in his power not to let history repeat itself.
This book seemed to have a very slow start. I had a hard time immersing myself into the story. Once Conall took Aileen to the bonfire with him, as a reader I got to know and like both characters so much. Aileen seemed so real with her feelings of inadequacies and Conall trying hard to make her feel at ease getting to know him. It was nice to have a romance that felt real and not the old thing of eyes meeting and instantly falling in love.
This book is rich with the beauty and culture of the Scottish Highlands and transporting you there while truly making me want to visit some day. I just loved how many of the Scottish traditions were flawlessly slipped into the storyline enriching the story. Moore truly knows how to endear this country and people to her readers.
Of course one of my favorite characters was Jamie, Aileen's eight year old son. He is one of the main reasons that Conall and Aileen come together as a couple. As the story continues you are waiting anxiously for when Aileen's secret will come out, hence the title of the book. Let's just say I love the way how in the end Conall stands by Aileen and Jamie. It takes a lot of other things standing in their way to get to that point but in the end it comes to a satisfying conclusion.
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