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This is perhaps one of the most enlightening books I have read as a Christian! I should start by telling you, I am what I call a "skeptical Christian." (I digress here, so if you want to skip to more about the book, scroll down) I question a lot of what is preached in churches and what is stated in the Bible. Not to say that I disagree, but that I don't take everything that is said as right and better left untested. For instance, I am not a fan of the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. I have asked several people of the cloth - ministers, pastors, priests...some nuns - and all are exasperated at my frustration with this story. So here we have a guy who loves his son and worships faithfully. But he has to prove his total devotion to God by sacrificing his son. The guy goes so far as to take his son up a hill and is about to kill him, and then God says never mind, this was all a test and you passed. I'm exaggerating quite a bit, but you get the gist of the story. This is supposed to be a lesson, to have complete and utter faith in God. But I look at this from Isaac's perspective - his father was about to kill him! What kind of father is that? I really despise this story. It's part of the Old Testament though, so at the same time, I understand why it's so dark. I also understand the moral of the story and its importance. (end of digression here) So anyway, as you can see, I am not your typical Christian. But I love Christian romance, and I particularly loved this story. It taught me a side of the Bible that I am not overly familiar with. I thought it was so cool that when I got to the end, and the author tells us that the characters were all very real. I had no idea, and it made their stories all the more poignant!
Alanah is a Canaanite, the enemy of the invading Hebrews brought to the land by their God and guided by a mysterious cloud which provides them all they need. In the battles between her people and the Hebrews, all three of her brothers and her father are killed, and she joins the fight disguised as a man to get her revenge. However, in her first battle, she is taken aback by the violence, and when one of her arrows meets flesh, she flees in terror and is struck by an arrow herself. Given up for dead, she is found by a Hebrew soldier, Tobiah, who saves her upon discovering she is a woman. Knowing that she would be in danger if left unprotected, he makes the decision to marry her. Tobiah and Alanah struggle to overcome the deep-seated distrust between their two peoples, but as Tobiah shows Alanah the ways of the Hebrews, Alanah begins to realize that their God, Yahweh, has a plan for her. All she has to do is listen to Him and believe.
Both Alanah and Tobiah are complex and intriguing characters. Alanah was instantly a draw for me, because I understood her pain and wanting to get revenge. The author did an amazing job of describing her upbringing, showing her point-of-view, and allowing her character to grow with the story as opposed to having her automatically accept her fate without any challenges. Instead, she had many challenges, and she was forced to confront the horrors her people have committed, that she has become used to but the Hebrews find appalling. She, too, sees the darkness in her people, and as she becomes closer to her Hebrew neighbors, she sees the light in their way of life. Tobiah is an amazing hero, one that both inspires me as a person and encourages me to find a patient, understanding man like him as a partner in life. He accepts that Alanah is different and that she is afraid to live with him. Instead of taking advantage of her fear and using it to ensure she does as she is told, he teachers her the ways of the Hebrews and the past of his people. Both learned to accept their differences and see the good in each other. Even when faced with temptation later in the book, Tobiah proves honorable and Alanah sacrifices much out of love for him.
I was disappointed that this was the last book in the series, but also giddy that I can now go back and read previous books which feature some of my favorite secondary characters. Connilyn Cossette is an amazing writer and one I hope to recommend to many people going forward. This book is one of my favorites this year, and I hope to read many more books by her in the future.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**