Tag Archives: Historical romance

Fallen Kings by Sarah Witenhafer — Review by Mary C. Findley

Even though I didn’t manage to finish this book in 2013, I have to say it is the best one I have read, and it’s going to be hard to find one to top it in 2014 (until the sequel comes out).

Sometimes you think you know what you need, and what your people need. Many powerful people in history have made decisions based on “the good of the many”. Naamah, daughter of the ruler of ancient Eridu in Mesopotamia, is one of those powerful people. She’s learned statecraft, warcraft, and all the rest as her father grooms her as befits his only possible heir. But Naamah has a problem. She can’t find a suitable husband. Suitable to her means a man who can bring power, wealth, and glory to Eridu. And, coincidentally, one who can excite and satisfy Naamah. She is sure she knows what it will take to do those things.

Oh, there’s Keenan, who is her current suitor. (She’s had several, for reasons both humorous and curious.) Keenan is intelligent, generous, prosperous, respected, and deeply in love with Naamah. Trouble is, Naamah just thinks Eridu needs someone less … well … boring, is what seems to be uppermost in her mind. Certainly there is a need for someone taller, and more handsome, though Keenan is able to captivate Naamah repeatedly just by being himself. Go figure.

This book is a dynamic study of human nature. What are the results of Namaah’s years of training, study, and preparation? The whole focus of her life has been to be ready to do what’s best for Eridu, not what would satisfy or content or please herself. When it comes time to decide, does she rely on that training, much of it having come from Keenan, who was her tutor before he became her suitor? Or does something else make her supposedly selfless cry for help to the goddess of love and war the ultimate test of what man (or woman) can learn and know and decide on his/her own?

And then there’s Keenan. Real spiritual powers crackle around the characters in this story. How can he admit that all these forces are real, but claim that only one is worth living and dying for? And aren’t we supposed to be rewarded for repentance, faithfulness, personal sacrifice, and relentless courage?

Witenhafer exposes the lie that prosperity means success, in both worldly and spiritual senses, and it’s perhaps the most important point this book makes. People in the story go from rags to riches and back to rags. Others just get richer and richer. What is the true meaning of being blessed, or cursed, for that matter? What do the manifestations of powerful visions and terrifying creatures from the spiritual realm really mean?

Read it. Study it. Learn its lessons. Let it stir your heart to a greater understanding of the need to cling to that nameless God Keenan introduces us to.






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Review of Lord’s Love by Sophie Dawson

Lord's Love (Cottonwood)

The choice St John Lytton’s father gives him seems like a lose-lose situation. Even when he thinks he’s found an easy path with old acquaintances, he learns his father’s got a deeper plan. Culture shock doesn’t stop him from trying to have a little fun. But that’s when he begins to understand the seriousness of his situation. Will he risk losing his livelihood, home and heritage? And is it possible he still doesn’t understand what his father really wants from him? Could it be the beautiful girl he first pursued for fun is trying to teach him the same lesson? And if he doesn’t get it this time, will anything he’s planned or tried to accomplish really matter?



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“I’m Going Home.”

A review of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Perhaps I was the only remaining Christian female on the planet who had not read this book. The parallels to both the biblical book of Hosea and a human’s relationship to God are beautiful and valuable. It is almost a perfect allegory of the rocky relationship we have with our God and with our Savior as His sought-out bride. So many times we just don’t get it, just as Angel just doesn’t get it. Angel has good reason not to understand the fatherhood of God and Christ as a loving husband. She has never seen any example of either until Michael Hosea literally redeems her from the slavery of prostitution.

The book is full of beautiful examples of love, and of good, strong males showing how to be husbands and fathers and just good men. It also has one remarkable man, Paul. He is a needy, jealous, hypocritical accuser and adversary for most of the book. But he also plays one of the most surprising roles I have ever seen a character perform. This story is worth reading just to see the unexpected part he plays.

In this book God speaks with an audible voice and miracles happen. People are so sure of this reality, and one person is so shocked when it happens, it is time to look around in amazement. The spoken words are almost all Scriptures or Scriptural principles, so there’s no reason to question whether the audible whispers of “Beloved” in the ear are a part of the allegory or whether the author means an actual voice spoke. The defeat of Angel’s greatest enemy is nothing short of miraculous.

A bi-weekly stroll by a beautiful woman down a muddy street means so much more than “taking the air.” A dead woman’s hand-me-downs give occasion for both outrage and touching generosity. A hatbox of worries produces laughter and a lesson in faith. A golden key hangs in a spot where no one would imagine being able to reclaim it. When Angel finally says, “I’m going home,” it’s the echo of the final understanding every believer must come to about who is guilty, who is worthy, and what a bridegroom really offers to his bride, humanly and spiritually speaking.


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“This Is Not a Small Thing!”


McKenzie Worthington is a desperate woman. She lives in a world of such wealth and privilege she has never even had to spoon food onto her own plate. She is willing to give it all up. Temporarily, at least. Someone must rescue her sister from a truly terrifying marriage in the wilds of frontier Montana, but McKenzie has no reason to hope for her family’s help.

McKenzie grew up in the comfort of Boston high society but she has known heartache. The “perfect” man jilted her for her best friend. She struggles to trust and love in a world of the proper and dutiful. There’s no example of open love or personal sacrifice or pain.

A mail order marriage doesn’t seem “binding.” Marriage is only for convenience and comfort. She travels to Montana only to find to a man who might help her find her sister. Zach Sawyer, however, teaches her the difference between her social customs and empty religion back home and the real God and His Word straight from his father’s worn-out Bible. He teaches her honor, duty and real sacrifice.

This story contains gems of greatness. McKenzie’s first dinner in Zach’s home had stunning potential to show how ill-equipped McKenzie would be. But, while we get description of Boston life, down to the wallpaper patterns, there is little of the hardness of life in Montana. Vague references to learning to cook didn’t satisfy.

When Zach cries out to God about the difference between a wife’s small shortcomings and the “big thing” McKenzie has done to him, it is another gem of greatness in the book.

Over all, though, it was a sweet, gentle lesson in replacing what the world teaches us about family, duty and what’s “proper” with truth, honesty and love based on God and His Word.

Image of Penny Zeller

About the author of the Montana Skies Series
Penny Zeller

Penny Zeller is the author of The Montana Skies Series from Whitaker House, known for her down-to-earth prose and creativity in conveying spiritual truths with clarity and humor. On her blog, “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author” she addresses the challenges and joys of day-to-day family life from her perspective as a stay-at-home Wyoming wife and mother.

Penny has loved to write since childhood, but it was in 2000 she dedicated her writing skills to God, making a commitment to use her talents to inspire others with stories centered on God’s love. Her Montana Skies Series: McKenzie (2009), Kaydie (2010) and Hailee (2011), her first in the historic romance genre, have been well-received by readers and critics alike.

Her previous books include: Hollyhocks (Booklocker 2003), written for children with food allergies; Wyoming Treasures (Medallion Books 2005), a living history of the region with interviews of residents who had lived through the depression, World War II and other significant events. Her 2008 book from Beacon Hill, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference, put her in the national spotlight with speaking engagements, radio, and television interviews, including syndicated programs on the ABC Family Channel, CBN, and LESEA Networks.

Penny’s articles have appeared in Woman’s World, Brio, MomSense (official MOPS magazine), Victory in Grace, ePregnancy, Grit, Woman’s Touch, Vibrant Life, Village Family Magazine, Teenage Christian Magazine, Hopscotch, Idaho Magazine, On the Line, and many more.

Penny is active in her community and church, leading a Bible study and women’s prayer group, and regularly volunteering at her daughters’ school. She co-organized a local group designed to provide fellowship among local women, “Sisters in Christ Community Girls Night Out,” and enjoys canoeing, gardening, and playing volleyball with her family and friends.

Website: http://www.pennyzeller.com Blog: http://www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com

For review copies or to schedule an interview, please contact Cathy Hickling,
800-444-448 ext. 283, chickling@whitakerhouse.com.


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