No one really knows where Jonah Gray Wolf came from. As a toddler, he was walked into a small town in Alaska by a wolf, and when no trace of any family could be found, he was adopted by the town doctor. From a very young age, he showed an uncanny connection to animals and was able to heal the sick and wounded of both the human and animal variety. Despite his extraordinary gift, Jonah lived a quiet life until a wealthy hunter came to town and was attacked by a bear. With his father out of town, Jonah was called to the scene where he healed the man, and ever since, he is the one who has become the hunted. The man he healed is determined to harness Jonah's power for his own selfish gain and even killed his father in an attempt to get to him. So for the past ten years, Jonah has lived his life on the run, always just one step ahead.
Jonah ends up in a little town in West Virginia, where he meets Lucia Andahar, when she comes to the gas station looking for someone to help her dog that is caught in a trap. Jonah not only frees the animal but heals its mangled leg as well, leaving Luce stunned, but not truly afraid. She's a waitress at the local diner and has more or less been running from her own past, too, so she sees a kindred spirit in Jonah. When she finds out that he has no place to stay, she offers him her spare room and helps him find a job. Even though it seems crazy, they share an uncanny connection almost immediately that's unlike anything either has experienced before. Jonah knows he can't leave Luce behind when danger comes calling again, but neither can he expect her to live a life on the run with him. But when the hunters pick up his scent again and they discover the vulnerability of his new romantic entanglement, it may give them all the ammunition they need to force Jonah's hand.
The Healer is a combination romantic suspense and light paranormal romance. I call it "light," because there are no supernatural creatures like vampires or werewolves, no witches or wizards, no fantasy worlds, or anything else that would make it wholly paranormal. All the characters are human, although the hero's origins are admittedly unknown. He possesses a tremendous gift for healing any living thing, human or animal. He can also communicate with animals and can emit a type of psychic pulse that can temporarily control another person and make them do things they don't necessarily want to do, but he only uses this part of his power in self-defense. Finally, he can track via scent much like a canine and also has a sixth sense about when things are going to happen or when a certain person is nearby. While the hero's powers are fairly extensive, he inhabits a world that is of the contemporary small-town variety with lots of suspense. The heroine has a stalker who has every intention of raping and killing her, while the hero is on the run from a major baddie who wants the hero's power for his own gain. So there's plenty going on to keep the story moving at a fairly fast pace that kept me engaged throughout.
As a toddler, Jonah was walked into the small town of Snow Valley, Alaska by a female wolf. No one knew where he came from or how he came to be with the wolves, but he has an obvious connection with them. When no parents or relatives could be found, the local doctor adopted and raised him. Even as a child, Jonah exhibited the ability to heal animals. After Jonah was grown but still a very young man, Major Bourdain, a millionaire, came to town on a hunting trip and was attacked by a grizzly. Jonah's father was away delivering a baby, so Bourdain's friend came to get Jonah, who healed him. It became the only time in his life that he regretted healing someone, because once Bourdain realized what had happened, he decided that he had to control Jonah's power for his own financial gain and so that he could live forever. He sent hunters after Jonah who ended up murdering his father, and Jonah has been on the run from him ever since. For the past ten years, it's been a lonely, solitary existence, always trying to stay one step ahead of the men Bourdain sent after him, until he ends up in the small town of Little Top, West Virginia, where he meets and falls in love with Lucia, the heroine. Then he realizes that the running has to stop, so he decides to make a stand.
I loved Jonah. I'm a huge fan of Native American heroes, especially those with long hair, and that's certainly Jonah. He's also another one of my favorite hero types, the gentle giant. He's a big man, but so very kind and gentle, particularly with women, children and animals. He's no pushover, though. When he's angry, his powers can make him a very dangerous man to be around for the person who riles him up. I also love the fact that he can communicate with animals. Even the most ferocious beasts turn into pussycats around him. Not to mention his incredible healing abilities, which has always been one of my favorite "superpowers." Oh yeah, and a man who can give a woman the Big O just by touching her? Yes, please! ;-) Jonah, quite simply, hit many of my favorite tropes, which is also going to put him high on my list of favorite romance heroes. The only thing about Jonah that made me go, hmmm..., is that he has this deep connection with the animals and even tried to protect a tiny field mouse from being eaten by predatory birds, but he himself eats meat, which seemed a little strange and at odds with his abilities, but this isn't explained.
Lucia was the sole survivor of a car accident that claimed the lives of the rest of her family when she was only a teenager. After that she went to live with an aunt and uncle, but when she couldn't deal with the uncle's unwanted advanced any longer, she ran away. Eventually she settled in Little Top, where she works as a waitress at the local diner and lives in a rustic mountain cabin owned by an elderly lady. Lately she seems to have picked up a stalker who has been leaving notes for her. At first, they were merely a little creepy, so the local sheriff refused to do anything about it, but they've gradually gotten more threatening over time. After Lucia's dog, Hobo, was caught in a trap that she suspected was set by the stalker, she ran to the gas station looking for help. Jonah had just arrived in town and offered to come with her. By the time he got Hobo out of the trap, the dog was pretty badly injured, so Jonah healed him, leaving Lucia stunned by what she witnessed. However, she can't help feeling a connection with the man and a sense that he can be trusted, so when she finds out he has no place to go, she offers him the spare room in her cabin and sets him up working as a handyman for her elderly landlady. Not to mention, she figures that having a man close by might dissuade her stalker from coming around anymore.
I really liked Lucia. She's a strong Latina woman, who is very open-minded and accepting of Jonah for what he is. She's impressed and in constant awe of his power, rather than being afraid of it. Her landlady, Bridie, thinks of her as a daughter, and pretty much everyone in town likes her and knows she's a hard worker. Luce is just an all-around likable heroine, so the only small issue I had was that I felt like her characterization could have been a little more developed. I thought perhaps her past and her feelings surrounding that could have been brought out a bit more, but at the same time, I recognize that this was primarily Jonah's story and between that and everything else going on, there wasn't a lot of extra room. So in the end, I wasn't too perturbed by this.
Overall, I very much enjoyed The Healer. It's a unique story that really drew me in and definitely kept me reading. I waffled a bit on my rating between giving it 4.5 stars and the full five, but went with 4.5. Aside from Lucia's weaker characterization there were a few other minor things that bothered me just enough to drop the half-star. Jonah and Lucia fall in love very quickly, within only a couple of days, which kind of pushes the bounds of credibility a bit. But the two things that helped to mitigate this some is the paranormal element which implies that they are somehow soul mates and also the author is very good at expressing the deep emotional connection between these characters. One other thing that I wasn't overly fond of is that the author engages in head-hopping narration. Especially in scenes involving multiple characters, she may change the POV every paragraph or two. I was still able to keep up with it, but I couldn't help wondering what it might have been like to get that deep POV that's only afforded by staying in one character's perspective for an entire scene. Lastly, I did pick up on a tiny bit of repetition, but it wasn't too bad. Although together, these things were enough for me knock off the half-star, they didn't really detract much from my overall enjoyment of the book. It was my first read by the prolific Sharon Sala, but it definitely won't be my last. I look forward to exploring more of her backlist soon.
You May Also Enjoy
Only by Your Touch by Catherine Anderson
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook