“I do not believe in your Lord, Sarah. These things were mere coincidences, not God’s intervention,” Darius tells his wife in Tessa Afshar’s novel, Harvest of Gold.
~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those who enjoy romantic historical fiction based on the Bible. With this one focusing on the book of Nehemiah, its love story that contains abuse and a murder plot along with references to sexual relations may not be appropriate to immature readers. The ending includes the author’s notes, fifteen discussion questions, acknowledgments, and advertisements.
In the 400s B.C., the Jewish scribe, Sarah, has been married by arrangement less than a year to Daris, the Persian aristocrat and defender of King Artaxerxes. Told not to share her belief in her God, she questions every move she makes versus every response her husband gives to try to win his love, affection, and acceptance.
When a plot to assassinate the king is uncovered, Daris is called to search out the perpetrators, taking his wife and him from Susa to Damascus and Jerusalem. With the king’s cupbearer and Sarah’s cousin, Nehemiah, they uncover who was behind the attempted murder as Jerusalem’s walls are rebuilt.
As Sarah’s love for her husband grows in spite of her deceptions, both spouses’ emotions falter and stumble, especially as Darius wonders if his heart has hardened to love.
~ Why ~
Using the backdrop of the Jews struggling to rebuild the Temple under the Persian Empire, the love story shows how trusting God and knowing He is in control are the keys to happiness and love.
~ Why Not ~
Having not read the prior book in the series, I found it took a while to understand the characters. Some may not like the romantic bantering and teasing emphasized in a fictional story about the sobering Old Testament book.
~ Who ~
Author Afshar was born in Iran and moved to the United States as a teenager. Having written two prior novels, this is the second one in a series.
~ Wish ~
Without realizing there was a first book in the series, I wish this one stated it so I would know to read the other one first. I already feel disappointed that I know what happens when I read the first one next.
It would be helpful if the reader knew who was speaking in some conversations where it is unclear.
~ Want ~
If you are looking for a romantic addendum to reading the book of Nehemiah in the Bible, this historical romance may bring to life the traditions and circumstances surrounding rebuilding Jerusalem and its Temple.
Thanks to Moody Publishers for offering this book to read and review for my honest opinion.
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Grammarly was used to check for errors in this review.