1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington’s troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie’s wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces.
The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family’s secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy . . . never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself.
The fantastic next chapter in the saga of the Frasers. At the end of An Echo in the Bone the Frasers were in the midst of the American Revolution and the MacKenzies were in modern day Scotland. Jem had been kidnapped and presumed taken into the past, though we last saw him in the tunnel at the dam. We're not sure if he's traveled or not. Roger and Brianna are naturally frantic, and Roger, along with his many times great grandfather have gone to the past to look for him.
So much happening in this book. Of course, we have our main couple, Jamie and Claire, reunited. There are, naturally, some adjustments to make, as both come to grips with Claire's marriage to John while Jamie was presumed dead. Jamie becomes reinvolved in the war, with Claire accompanying him in her medical capacity and as his wife. It was fascinating to read of the war's progress, through the occupation of Philadelphia, the Battle of Brandywine, and so on. There are many historical characters that make appearances, such as George Washington and Benedict Arnold. I loved Claire's reactions to those experiences, especially considering what she knows. I loved the minute details of what was happening, things that are generally left out of this history books, but which make events feel real.
Roger and Buck have gone into the past looking for Jem, not knowing that he never left the present. Something went wrong in the transfer and they went back too far. It was interesting to see them interact with Jamie's father and Jenny, with Roger knowing what is yet to come. They are having no luck finding Jem, naturally, but in their search run into another time traveler. This one is quite a shock to Roger, and gives one explanation as to why they landed when they did.
Lord John has quite a rough time of it in this book. Jamie finally reacts to John's statement regarding his marriage to Claire. Beaten and left in the woods, John ends up captured by the Americans, spends some time as a prisoner, nearly hanged as a spy, then escapes, only to pretend to be an American to save his neck yet again. We also see him dealing with some issues from his own past, when Percy makes a reappearance. John also comes to William's rescue when he ends up with some trouble of his own.
Ah, William. William is not coping well with his new found knowledge about his parentage. He is angry, but he is also confused. He doesn't quite know who he is any longer and his emotions are all over the place. There were times when I wanted to shake him, especially when he got nasty with both Jamie and John. But there are also times when I really liked him. His care for the young woman who was forced into prostitution and her little sister was wonderful. It was satisfying to see him go to Jaime when he needed specialized help. There were hints of reconciliation between the two, but it's still in the early stages.
Ian and Rachel. Ian is still working as a scout for the Continental Army and Rachel is still helping her brother with the wounded. They are still intending to marry, though there are challenges to that happening. I enjoyed getting the background on how Quaker marriages occur. I loved how Rachel is always there for Ian, ready to listen to him as he struggles with his future. Ian has changed and matured quite a bit over the last couple books, and I like who he has become even better. There was also a terrific scene with Claire, Rachel and Dottie as Claire explains to both of them what to expect after the wedding. I must say there are parts of that which had me laughing so hard I cried.
Dottie and Denzel. Denzel's work as a doctor is always interesting, especially as it pertains to his Quaker religion. His relationship with Dottie was a bit of a surprise, but I'm really enjoying it. In the previous book Dottie had come across as a bit flighty, but here she is quite focused. I have to admit that it was pretty amusing seeing her trying to be Quaker, but she loves Denny and will do whatever she has to in order to be with him.
Fergus, Marsali and the kids. They have settle in Philadelphia at this time. He has continued as a printer, and like Jamie has a tendency to get himself into trouble with some of his products. Meanwhile Marsali is left trying to keep home and hearth together.
Brianna, Jem and Mandy are dealing with problems of their own. Jem has escaped the tunnel and made it back to his mother. There are other attempts made on them all. The reason behind the attacks has been alluded to before, but is explained more in this book. This leads Brianna to make a life changing decision in order to protect them.
Two major characters pass away during this book, creating two big holes in the lives of our characters. I cried for both and ached for those left behind.
Jamie and Claire make the decision to return to Fraser's Ridge. I loved their arrival and seeing them settle back in. Claire had quite a surprise waiting for her, one that made me very happy for her. As she and Jamie are checking out the site for their new house, they are stunned by a call of "Hello the house!" Of course, Diana leaves it there, and we are left to wait and wonder about the story behind their arrival. I can't wait.