by Laura Mills-Alcott

November 2003
ISBN: 1-59414-089-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Five Star

This is an amazing story. It is based on the Ballad of Barbara Allen and the old Irish poem The Briar And the Rose. It is the story of Devan and the strange attraction he feels towards a new servant girl called Raven; she is the image of his dead love Katherine who perished in a fire. To Raven, he is Lord Castlebridge but her dreams see him as Seamus the love of a woman called Miaread. In her dreams, she is this Miaread.

It is hard to describe the depth of this book. The characters are excellently devised. Raven is an amazing heroine; plucked from the streets to become a servant until she is spotted by Devan. She is then given a prize place in the household because he believes Raven may have been a lady as she doesnít remember much about her own past. She was found with no memory of who she really was and only the strange dreams to give her any clues.

But Devan has more reason to instil her in his house; while he tries to solve the mystery of her real identity, Devan also fights the attraction he feels for her. Part of the mystery that Devan tries to solve are Ravenís visits to Dublin in the middle of the night. Raven, on the other hand, has no memory of these visits as they only occur in her dreams.

Raven does find the transformation in her life quite difficult to accept and her growing attraction to Devan is frightening to her Ė as a servant, Raven canít see him ever wanting her as anything but a mistress. Although Raven has lost hope of having a more permanent and meaningful relationship with Devan, he refuses to give up on her despite the fact that he finds her to be a total contradiction.

There are many twists and turns in this plot - and when you are taken into Ravenís dream world, it becomes even more intriguing. The story runs very smoothly and is easy to follow. Ms Mills-Alcott has thought out this plot well and fits the whole story together so that nothing is left unexplained. This canít have been easy because even as Ravenís past begins to unfold, it becomes even more mysterious at the same time.

I found myself following this story with excitement because I did not know what to expect as each chapter unfolded. I was delighted to find the end of the story even more surprising as it did not finish as I expected it to and was taken on a further journey back in Ravenís life before her true self was revealed.

This book is well worth a read. If you enjoy your historicals with a mystery and a good dose of mysticism, this is the book to read!

Reviewed in October 2003 by Mary.

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