Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance

within-the-veilGenre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lyrical Vine Press
Publication Date: June 2016

Feya and Alasdair should never have crossed paths. A young Scottish woman with Gypsy blood, she lives in the squalor of the Edinburgh tenements. He is a British palace guard who comes from wealth and prominence.

Desperate to feed her starving siblings, Feya hatches an ill-fated plan that lands her on the wrong side of the law and forced across the highlands under the watchful eye of her cold, yet handsome captor.

Alasdair didn’t imagine he’d end up stuck transporting a feisty, redhead to Stirling when he caught her attempting to infiltrate one of the queen’s palaces. With his fiancée arriving soon and his father pressing political agendas, the timing couldn’t be worse.

When their journey suddenly becomes one of survival, the unlikely pair must push their prejudices aside. In doing so, they make surprising discoveries not only of themselves and each other, but also those around them.

Beautifully crafted, Within the Veil delivers a tale of hope, forgiveness, and learning to see more than skin deep. Brandy Vallance addresses painfully poignant topics such as racism, giving the novel relevance despite its historical setting. Infused with vivid imagery and a strong sense of color, the story popped to life, plunging me into the middle of Scotland — a country I love to visit though I’ve only ever been there in books.

I enjoy stories that teach me new things. Within the Veil does exactly that. To avoid spoilers, I’ll stick to general terms but a character experiences a neuropsychological phenomenon. The author never refers to it by name in the novel due to the time period, yet she masterfully recreated it on the pages. Though I had only ever vaguely heard of this condition and know next to nothing on the subject, through said character I felt like I experienced it for myself. It made the story unique.

Readers easily rally behind Feya and Alasdair. I cheered for them as their walls crumbled and love flourished, and I held my breath as their enemies closed in. Feya’s feistiness often made me giggle, and her devotion and love for her siblings is admirable. I understood Alasdair’s frustrations with the stubborn gypsy girl, even as I wanted to tell him to get over it and just tell her how he felt. Granted, then there wouldn’t have been a story.

I did struggle a bit with a specific turn at the end — mostly due to its unexpectedness. Again I want to avoid spoilers, but a character is forced to change life directions. Unfortunately, the author never hinted at the hidden passion, making the new path feel tacked on at the last minute as a means of reaching a perfectly wrapped-up ending. Alluding to this suppressed dream throughout the tale would have remedied this.

I recommend Within the Veil to readers looking for a sweet, spirited romance or anyone wanting to visit Scotland for a few hours.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

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