Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients by Rod Raglin probably isn't going to be widely reviewed, but I think it deserves to be considered by more readers. This isn't just because the author gifted it to me.
Maggie Whiteside, the heroine of this unusual romance, heals people with herbs and paranormal abilities. She also stands in opposition to a developer who intends to destroy the forest where she lives. Yet those activities aren't what makes her stand out. Maggie is a schizophrenic who is portrayed with sensitivity. A schizophrenic heroine who gets her own HEA? I definitely haven't seen that before in a romance.
I love it when genres are expanded beyond their previous limits. This can happen in indie books like this one because the author doesn't have to listen to the gatekeepers of the genre telling him or her that the audience doesn't want to read that sort of thing. And maybe the gatekeepers are right about the majority of readers, but there are also readers like me who are interested in anything that's different.
I won Eagleridge Bluffs, another Eco-Warriors romance by Rod Raglin, in a Booklikes giveaway some time ago. That book has a new title and a new cover now. It might have been revised. At the time, I found an aspect of the heroine's portrayal very unrealistic. When I learned that this book's protagonist is schizophrenic, I wondered if I would be making similar comments about her. Instead I was convinced by the characterization of Maggie because Raglin did his homework this time. He cites a memoir of a schizophrenic woman in his acknowledgements.
Maggie's psychotic episodes are severe and disruptive. She faces prejudice and medications with significant side effects, but her healing and paranormal gifts are also portrayed as very real. Some readers may not believe that Maggie could cope with schizophrenia in the way that she did, but people need to realize that psychiatry hasn't been able to cure schizophrenia with medication. Medication only controls the condition temporarily. So there's a great deal that isn't known or understood about schizophrenia.
Readers who don't prefer fantasy may wonder if this novel is too fantastical for them. I'd say that the fantasy content represents only about 10% of the narrative. Maggie's alternative healing involves more herbalism than magic. Since the romantic hero is a lawyer, there is actually far more legal content than fantasy.
Maggie is such an unexpected protagonist with so many barriers to achieving her dreams that I found her inspiring. I cheered for every single one of her victories. I feel that few romance heroines deserved HEA more.