The Scottish Lowlands, October 1789.
A year has come and gone since Jamie McKie fled for his life, arriving at Auchengray in search of sanctuary and a bonny wife. Young Rose McBride, as fair a lass as any in Scotland, dearly loves her handsome cousin—but so does her older sister, Leana.
Determined to have Jamie all to herself, Rose puts in motion one desperate plan after another, enlisting the aid of Lillias Brown, a wise woman—a wutch, some say—still keen on the old ways. Impetuous Rose ignores the cruel whispers that travel up and down the parish hills, never dreaming of the tragic consequences that await her.
Her sister, Leana, clings to her hard-won sense of peace and assurance by a slender thread of faith. Day and night, Leana’s hours are apent caring for wee Ian and praying that her future will hold more promise than her past.
Jamie McKie is busy making his own plans to return home to Glentrool and claim his inheritance. To do so means facing Evan, the brother whose blessing he stole, and Alec, the father whom he ruthlessly deceived. It is a perilous journey that will test the depth of his courage, the strength of his sword, and the tenacity of his vow to honor Almighty God, no matter the cost.
About the Author
Since 1986, Liz Curtis Higgs has presented more than 1,500 inspirational programs for audiences in all 50 states as well as Germany, England, Canada, Ecuador, France, and Scotland. In 1995, Liz received the highest award for speaking excellence, the “Council of Peers Award for Excellence,” becoming one of only forty women in the world named to the Speaker Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association.
Feature articles about Liz have appeared in more than 250 major newspapers and magazines across the country, and she has been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS/Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, A & E, MSNBC, NPR, CBC Canada, BBC Radio Scotland, Focus on the Family, and Janet Parshall’s America.
A member of Novelists, Inc., Liz now focuses her writing efforts on historical fiction, particularly novels set in eighteenth-century Scotland. To aid in her research, she has visited the U.K. on eight occasions, including her "Heart for Scotland" 12-city U.K. book tour in October 2003, and she has collected nearly 700 resource books on Scottish history and culture. A graduate of Bellarmine College with a B.A. in English, Liz is a member of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society and the Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society, as well as supporting the National Museums of Scotland, Historic Scotland, and the National Trust for Scotland.
Liz is the author of twenty-one books, with more than 2 million in print. Her fiction to date includes two historical novels and two contemporary novels:
• Fair Is the Rose
• Thorn in My Heart
• Mixed Signals
The most recent of her 11 nonfiction, best-selling books include…
• Unveiling Mary Magdalene
• Really Bad Girls of the Bible
• Bad Girls of the Bible
The above titles also have corresponding VHS videos and companion workbooks.
And she has written five books for young children:
• Go Away, Dark Night
• The Parable of the Lily
• The Pine Tree Parable
• The Sunflower Parable
• The Pumpkin Patch Parable
Her children’s Parable Series was awarded the ECPA Gold Medallion for Excellence at the Christian Booksellers Association Convention in July 1998, and her book Bad Girls of the Bible was an ECPA Gold Medallion Finalist in 2000. Her first novel, Mixed Signals, was a RITA Finalist for both Best First Novel and Best Inspirational Novel. Her second novel, Bookends, was a Christy Finalist for Best Contemporary Fiction. And her third novel, Thorn in My Heart, was a #1 historical fiction Christian bestseller, followed by a second historical bestseller, Fair Is the Rose. Whence Came a Prince, the latest novel in the series, publishes in March 2005. In addition, Liz is the editor of an annual newsletter, The Graceful Heart, with 25,000 readers, and is a columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine with her back page feature, "Life with Liz." Her first video Bible study series, Loved by God, was released in March 2004.
On the personal side, Liz is married to Bill Higgs, Ph.D., who serves as Director of Operations for her speaking and writing office. Liz and Bill share their 19th-century farmhouse in Louisville, KY, with their two teenagers, Matthew and Lillian, and too many cats. For more about Liz, visit her Web site: www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.
Read an Excerpt
Never wedding, ever wooing,
Still a lovelorn heart pursuing,
Read you not the wrong you’re doing
In my cheek’s pale hue?
Newabbey Parish Manse
Rose McBride pressed her back against the paneled wall, her gaze fixed on the man kneeling by her sister’s bedside. She could not see Jamie McKie’s face at that late hour. Only his sleek brown hair,
tied at the nape of his neck, and his favorite blue waistcoat, crumpled from a long day of waiting for his son to be born. Moments after the child had made his entrance into the world, Jamie had appeared in the birthing room and sent her heart spinning.
He’d not come to see her, but Rose would see her fill of him. Aye,
A peat fire burned low in the grate, barely warming the chilly room.
The minister’s spence served as a parlor during the day and as a bedroom and study in the evening. ’Twas the last place her sister had expected to give birth; when her labor had started in the middle of services, Leana had had little choice. Though Rose’s knees ached from crouching in the same position for several minutes, she dared not move and risk discovery.
Her beloved Jamie had yet to spy her hiding behind the high-backed chair in the darkest corner. She intended to keep it that way.
Now he was leaning toward her sister, Leana. Touching her hand,
then caressing his son’s wee head. The catch in his voice said more than his words. “Leana, will you forgive me?”
Nae! Rose bit down on her lower lip, fighting tears. ’Tis Leana’s fault,
not yours, Jamie.
She could not hear the whispered words that followed, but her eyes told her more than she wanted to know. Leana brushed aside her damp blond hair and put the babe to her breast while Jamie stood gazing down at her, his growing fondness for Leana palpable even from a distance.
Rose averted her gaze, though the tender image lingered. Why,
oh, why hadn’t she left the room with the others?
All at once they both laughed, and Leana’s voice carried across the room. “One has found a way to come between us.”
Rose swallowed hard. Did Leana mean the babe…or her?
“Nothing will come between us again,” Jamie said firmly.
He means me. Rose clutched the back of the chair, feeling faint.
Why would he say such a thing? You love me, Jamie. You ken you do.
Jamie entreated her sister with words no woman could resist. “Will you give me a chance to prove myself to you?”
Prove yourself ? Oh, Jamie. Rose sank to the floor on her knees, not caring if they heard her, not caring if she drew another breath. Jamie,
the handsome cousin who had kissed her that very morning, was prepared to put her aside like a dish of half-eaten pudding.
“We shall begin again,” she heard her sister say. “Now then, tell me about your dream.”
“So I will.” A chair scraped against the wooden floor.
Much as Rose tried to resist, Jamie’s voice, low and familiar, drew her like smoke to a flue. He spun a far-fetched story about the night he left his home in Glentrool and slept on a stony cairn among the crushed berries of a leafy Jacob’s ladder plant. Then he dreamed of a mountain,
he said, taller than any in Galloway and bright as a full moon in a midnight sky. Winged creatures moved up and down the mountainsides like stairsteps, and a voice roared like the sea.
“What did this…this voice tell you?” Leana asked.
When Jamie did not respond, Rose shifted to see him better, her curiosity aroused. In a twelvemonth, Jamie had not mentioned such a dream to her.
“Leana, it was a voice like no other. Wondrous. And frichtsome. The words clapped like thunder: ‘Behold, I am with you wherever you go. I will never leave you.’ ”
Leana gasped. “But, Jamie–”
“Aye, lass. The same words you whispered to me on our wedding night.”
Nae! Rose pressed her hands to her ears at the very moment a sharp knock sounded at the door. Startled, she fell forward with a soft cry, her hiding place forgotten.
Leana’s voice floated across the room. “Who’s there, behind the chair?”
Rose drew back, her heart pounding beneath her stays. But it was too late. Taking a long, slow breath, she stood to her feet and did her best to look penitent.
The peat fire lit Jamie’s astonished face. “Rose?”
Shame burned her cheeks. Before she could find words to explain herself, the door creaked open, and the coppery head of their housekeeper,
Neda Hastings, appeared.
“Leana, I’ve come tae see ye get some rest…” Neda’s words faded as she caught sight of Rose. “There ye are, lass! I thocht ye’d wandered off tae the kitchen.”
“Nae.” She could not look at Jamie. “I…I wanted to see…the baby.”
“Come, dearie,” Leana murmured, stretching out her hand. “You had only to ask.”
Gathering her skirts and her courage about her, Rose crossed the wooden floor to Leana’s bedside, barely noticing the others as her gaze fell on the tiny bundle in Leana’s arms. “Isn’t he a dear thing?” While
Leana held back the linen blanket, Rose smoothed her hand across Ian’s downy hair, as rich a brown as Jamie’s own. “ ’Tis so soft,” she whispered.
Had she ever touched anything more precious? His little head fit perfectly within the cup of her hand.
“Would you like to hold him, Rose?”
Her breath caught. “Might I?” She bent down, surprised to find her arms were shaking. She’d held babies before, but not this one. Not
Jamie’s. “Ohh,” she said when Leana placed the babe in the crook of her arm. “How warm he is!”
Rose held Ian close and bent her head over his, breathing in the scent of his skin, marveling at how pink he was. And how small. Deep inside her a longing stirred to life, as if some unnamed desire had waited for this moment to arrive. All of her sixteen years Rose had feared motherhood; the miracle in her arms put such foolish concerns to rest. Her mother had died in childbirth, yet Leana had lived, and so had her babe. “My own nephew,” Rose said gently, stroking his cheek. “Ian James McKie.”
No wonder Jamie was enchanted. Leana was not the one who’d stolen Jamie’s heart this night; it was Ian, his newborn son.
Neda came up behind her, resting her hands on Rose’s shoulders,
peering round her to look at the babe. “Ye’ll make a fine mither someday.
Suppose ye gie Ian back tae yer sister afore he starts to greet.”
“Aye.” Rose did as she was told, chagrined at how cool and empty her arms felt.
“The auld wives say,” Neda cooed, tucking Leana’s bedcovers in place, “the child that’s born on the Sabbath day is blithe and bonny and good and gay. Isn’t that so, Mr. McKie?”
Jamie smiled down at his son. “Ian is all those things.”
When Jamie lifted his head, Rose looked into his eyes, hoping she might find his love for her reflected there. “I’m sorry, Jamie. For hiding in the corner.”
“No harm was done, Rose.” His steady gaze confused her. Was he glad she was there? Or eager for her to leave?
Neda picked up the candle by the bed and waved it toward the door. “Go along, lass. And ye as well, Mr. McKie. Leana needs a bit
mair care and a guid deal o’ sleep. We’ll bring yer wife and babe hame
tae Auchengray soon.”
Rose took her leave, pretending not to notice as Jamie bent down to kiss her sister’s hand, then her brow, then her mouth, where he tarried longer than duty required. Oh, Jamie. Had his affections shifted so quickly? In a day? In an hour? Rose closed the door behind her,
shutting out the worst of it. Her empty stomach squeezed itself into a hard knot, even as her chin began to wobble. She would not cry. She would not.
The hall was pitch-black, the last of the candles snuffed out by the thrifty minister’s wife, who’d shooed her household off to bed an hour ago. Rose halted, unsure of her way in the darkness. Was that her green cloak hanging near the door or someone else’s? She would need its thick woolen folds for the journey home.
Behind her the spence door shut with a faint click of the latch.
Jamie. She could not bring herself to answer him, though she sensed him closing the distance between them, his footsteps echoing in the empty hall. His hand touched her waist. “Rose, you must understand…”
“I do understand.” Her voice remained steady while the rest of her trembled. “Now that she has given you a healthy son, Leana is the one you love.”
“Nae, Rose.” Jamie grasped her elbow and spun her about. The heat of his fingers penetrated the fabric of her gown, and his eyes bored into hers. “To my shame, I do not love Leana. Not yet.” He lowered his voice, tightening his grip on her arm. “But I will learn to love your sister.
By all that’s holy, I must, Rose. She is my wife, the mother of my son,
“And she loves you.”
He dared not disagree, for they both knew it was true. “Aye, she does.”
“Well, so do I.” Swallowing her pride, Rose reached up to caress his face, reveling at the rough feel of his unshaven skin. “And you love me,
Jamie. You told me so again this morning, you said–”
“Things I should not have said on this or any other Sabbath.” Jamie turned away, releasing his hold on her. “Something happened this day,
“Aye. Your son was born–”
“Before that, I mean. I had a discussion with Duncan.” He hung his head. “More like a confession.”
“Duncan, you say?” Neda’s husband, the overseer of Auchengray,
was a good man and kind. But unbending when it came to certain matters. “Whatever did you confess to him?”
“The truth.” The relief on Jamie’s face was visible even in the dim entrance hall. “I promised Duncan…nae, I promised God that I would be a good husband to Leana and a good father to Ian. I must keep that promise now. You ken I must.” He stared down at the flagstone floor,
his voice strained. “Let me go, Rose. Please.”
“Let you go?” Her throat tightened. “But, Jamie, I love you. After all we’ve been through, how can you ask such a thing of me?”
“Because you love your sister.”
She cringed at the reminder. “Not as much as I love you.”
Jamie looked up. “You’ve loved her longer though. Every day of your life.”
“Not this day,” Rose protested, though they both knew she didn’t mean it. Hour after hour she’d held Leana’s hand, pleading with her not to die, praying for her with Neda and the others. Aye, she loved her sister. But she loved Jamie as well. How could she possibly let him go?
He took her hand and led her toward the hall bench, pulling her down onto the wooden seat next to him. “Rose…” His voice was as tender as she’d ever heard it. “I saw you with Ian. You were born to be a mother. And someday you will surely be one. But first you must find a husband of your own.”
“Please, Jamie!” Did he not understand? Did he not see? “You should have been my husband. And Ian my son–”
“Nae!”He fell back against the wall with a groan. “I beg you, do not say such things, Rose. ’Tis too late for all of that. God in his mercy has forgiven my unfaithful heart, and I will not disappoint him–or
Her heart sank. “Instead you will disappoint me.”
“Aye, it seems I must.” Jamie turned toward her, his face a handbreadth away. “Forgive me, darling Rose. You were my first love; I cannot deny it.”
His first love. But not his last. She closed her eyes. He was too near.
“I may never care for Leana as I have for you. But I must try. Don’t you see?”
“I…” She could hold back her tears no longer. “I only see that you don’t want me.”
“As my cousin, always. But not as my wife.” His grip tightened.
“You must let me go, Rose. For Ian’s sake.”
She stood, tugging her hands free to wipe her cheeks, looking away lest he see the sorrow in her eyes. “You ask too much of me, Jamie. You ask…too much.” She fled for the front door, stopping long enough to fling her cloak over her shoulders before disappearing into the fogshrouded night.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fair is the Rose is the second book in the Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs. Fair is the Rose continues following the saga of Jamie, Rose, and Leana as they work through the consequences of their choices. Leana and Jamie's son, Ian, came into the world handsome and healthy at the end of book one. He is the glue that has bound their unlikely marriage together. Ian's birth was a turning point for Jamie as he vowed to God to truly try and love his wife-forsaking his love for Leana's sister, Rose. Leana has continued to risk her heart and to love Jamie even though it has meant countless heartaches for her. When Jamie told her about his vow to God, her hope is renewed but can she really trust this man who has loved her sister for so long? Showing grace and the love of Christ Leana is determined to give Jamie the chance to prove himself and to bring his love into their marriage at last. Rose was none to happy to come home and find her sister had taken her wedding and her husband. She was even less happy when she learned her sister was pregnant-officially sealing her marriage to Jamie. Yet Rose still harbors feelings for him and Jamie has done nothing but encourage her in those feelings. Now that Jamie is determined to honor God, his marriage, and his wife Rose has little choice but to try and take matters into her own hands. Jamie is finally learning to love his wife and bury his love for Rose when Reverend Brown comes to tell him of an oversight in the kirk records that may jeopardize everything he holds dear. Will he be able to trust God? Can he truly learn to love Leana the way she deserves? What will become of his family? I truly enjoyed Fair is the Rose. It is interesting to see how Higgs remedies the Biblical pologamy in the midst of her historical Scotland setting. I also enjoy that her characters are flawed and complex. It keeps things interesting. Plus you know that a character is well written when you really, really hate that character and then realize that this is the emotion that character is meant to evoke in you. My favorite part is the way in which Leana handles the consequences of the choices she has made. Her character accepts responsibility for the wrongs she has committed but most importantly she accepts God's forgiveness and moves on. This encourages others to follow her example. I know that accepting God's forgiveness and forgiving myself are the hardest parts of forgiveness and I love how she lives it out well. I highly recommend the writings of Liz Curtis Higgs to historical fiction lovers, and to those who are fans of Biblical allegory. Her writing, characters, and stories will bring the Biblical accounts to life and help you see them from an entirely new perspective. Another great read!
for a christian reader this is a great fiction book, Put right into the book with the charters. YOull not want to put it down.
I loved this book!! I am a historical novel buff and especially history of the UK countries. It's an added bonus that it is based on a Bible story from the Old Testament.
this book is my absolute favorite out of any other books i have read. actually this series is the best i have on my bookshelf. the characters are very real and classically human. leana's story is heartbreaking and as i read this book its like i can feel her pain. this series will have you hooked from the very first page. i highly recommend this book, this series.
liz curtis higgs is an amazing author... i would have never thought to check her out if it was not for a suggestion on Julie Lessman's part. i very much enjoy julies books (especially the last one a passion denied which you should all check out!)and to have her suggest something to me i figured i must try it. and oh it was not a disappointment, the story correlates directly with that in the scriptures of jacob, leah, and racheal. this book opened up my eyes to not only the truths of this story but also to the emotions the charecters must have experienced in the real life circumstances. please try this book out you will enjoy it.
Here's the thing. You do not take one of the greatest loves in the Bible (Jacob's love for Rachel) and fictionalize it into a great love story between Leah and Jacob. Biblical fact: Rachel was a shepherdess. This is even what she was doing when Jacob met her. The Bible does not paint her to be a lazy, self-centered, vengeful girl who cares for no one but herself. In this book, Rose (Rachel) is painted to make everyone hate her, but she is the only innocent one. Everyone tells her to lie about the deception of her wedding night when her husband was stolen from her. Jamie (Jacob) comes to love Leeana (Leah) and despise Rose even though the Bible dictates that Jacob never loved Leah and always loved Rachel. This story would be plausible if Jaime would never have grown to love Leeana, God gave Leah children so she would feel loved because Jacob's love was so great and unwavering towards Rachel. It seemed providential that the church clerk's innocent mistakes in trying to cover up the deception is what righted Rose's wrong and gave her Jaime back as a husband - it was a God thing, God working things out honestly. If this story wasn't based on truth and the Bible, these author liberties wouldn't bother me. She's made Rose (Rachel) evil, searching out witches and doing spells to win back Jaime's love. You know what the Bible says about Leah? It never mentions her working, but it does mention her weak eyes which sounds like she wasn't good to do much help with anything. But the Bible says that Rachel's profession was a shepherdess. Who exactly is this author basing her characters on? In this trilogy, Leana is the respected hard worker, the best at everything domestic, and the epitome of love while Rose is always trying to put off work so she can flirt with the boys or do something to make herself more beautiful. Honestly, the character dimensions are too flat. Leana is ugly yet loving and Rose is beautiful and selfish - it's way too cliched and unBiblical to boot. I hated the second wedding. It was completely unfair to Rose. Rose had nothing to do with Leana's deception, but Rose continued to pay for it over and over again. Rose is the only one not to be deceptive in the entire novel, but she's the one who keeps getting punished. The ending did give me some piece of mind since Leana finally shows self-sacrificial love and leaves Rose and Jaime alone - too bad she couldn't do that once they became engaged. My heart finally softened for Leana. I can't understand all these women rooting for Rose's misery and Leana's victory of Jamie's heart. If their sister or best friend slept with their husband on their wedding night, I don't think they'd be rooting for her. If my sister slept with my husband and kept telling me that she loved me, I don't think she'd know what love meant. In this book, Leana's deception is what turns Rose into who she becomes. The funny thing is, Rose doesn't have to be deceptive to get her revenge; just honest.