Paul Reid’s debut novel, A Cruel Harvest, is an irresistible tale that intertwines romance and adventure in one breathtaking sweep. Reid’s book transports the reader to faraway places with striking realism: from the verdant, wind-blown Irish coastline, to the squalor of a slave ship, to the opulence of a sultan’s palace, and to the desolate sun-scorched deserts of Morocco. This book will not only capture your imagination, but your heart, as well.
The story begins with two young lovers, Brannon Ryan and Orlaith Downey, whose lifelong future together is clearly fated. But when Moroccan pirates raid the tranquil little village of Dromkeen, their courtship is cruelly interrupted as Brannon is seized and tossed into the hold of a cramped and filthy ship. For those captives who survive the voyage, the ordeal is far from over. Brannon’s trials begin with backbreaking labor and his plight increases tenfold when he is forced to serve in the sultan’s army. Through it all, we see a fearless and sometimes headstrong Brannon, determined to do whatever is necessary to return to his beloved.
Back in Ireland, even though Orlaith evaded capture, she soon faces her own grueling hardships. Even while trying to raise her son on her own and scratch a living out of a meager patch of land, she still clings to the faith that Brannon has survived. But as Brannon’s absence lengthens and starvation threatens her son’s very life, it seems her only hope is to wed the heartless and ignoble landowner, Randall Whitely. In her own right, Orlaith is both courageous and strong, a heroine to root for. It is impossible not to become emotionally engaged with both Brannon and Orlaith, as each battles their own moral dilemmas.
A Cruel Harvest is an ardent love story filled with majestic vistas, characters both frighteningly and heartwarmingly real and action so intense you’ll feel your pulse quicken. The contrast between the two settings, Ireland and Morocco, and the exquisite detail with which Reid portrays them guarantees that this will be a captivating read from beginning to end. This is one of those rare books you won’t rush through, simply because you’ll want to savor every word. The clarity of the storytelling and poeticism of the prose make it a truly memorable read.