27 Jun 2020

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette Review

Cities of Refuge #4
384 Pages, March 3rd 2020,  Bethany House 
Print, Ebook and Audio 

Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander's kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger.

Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached. Strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted.

When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyam to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam's thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he's come to love?

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


This series and Tessa Afshar's books have really been my introduction to Biblical Fiction. I barely read it two or three years ago, and indeed was reluctant to. I liked this entire series, which brings the period of the early settlement of Israel to life (its supposed to be set within a generation or two from the Exodus), along with the hopes and struggles of the people.

This one leaps ahead several years, and Moriyah and her family are no longer living in Kadesh, which has fallen to the Arameans. Being the nerd I am, I looked them up.

Her youngest daughter, Tirzah who has always been something of a tomboy begs to be able to join an expedition spying on their enemies in a nearby city, wading her way through the political intrigues and having to keep on the right side of a violent military leader.
There were a few scenarios and events that did not perhaps, ring entirely true, but the reader does get a sense of the danger the characters are facing to take back their land.

I would say the Romance element wasn't as strong in this one as some of the previous titles. Perhaps a little predictable, but it wasn't insta- love either, and it was good to to see the love growing between two hurting people who could bring healing to one another.
Personally, I find the audiobook narrator's pronunciation of a couple of the names interesting to say the least. Othniel to my British ears sounded very much like 'oatmeal', so I spent most of the book picturing a bowl of porridge whenever I heard his name. Silly I know.

Since I don't know much about this time period, I can't really remark on how accurate the period setting was. I will say the depictions of the various peoples were a little typecast at times (all the pagans/Arameans were evil etc), and there seemed to be a few modern turns of phrase. Not sure about mockingbirds in the ancient Middle East either.

However, overall this was a satisfying conclusion to the 'Cities of Refuge' series, which follows a family over two generations. I have not read the author's first series, and really ought to go back and do that, as some of minor characters mentioned in this series featured in that.

I requested this title from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

13 Jun 2020

The Healing Tree by Deborah Kinnard Review

The Faith Box #2
April 20th 2013, 237 Pages, Desert Breeze Publishing 

 A young English merchant dreams of riches, but is shipwrecked on the Cornish coast.

Richard de Knowle meets the local healer, Ebrel of Perran. Though their respective ranks forbid their joining, feelings quickly develop. She already has a suitor not to her liking. The suitor becomes Richard’s enemy. The men clash with words, later with swords. When her unwanted swain is found dead, suspicion centers on the newcomer. Richard is tried for murder.

The gallows' crossbeam breaks, saving Richard. The villagers claim a miracle, but Richard must seek justice from the local lord. Though the miracle spared him, he must clear his name if he expects to ask for Ebrel’s hand in honor.

Custom and circumstance decree separation. Yet the wheel of fortune turns, offering Richard a life in Cornwall. If he dares take the chance, he can hope to make a life with Ebrel at his side.

 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 The Healing Tree is very unusual for a historical Romance. In fact, I wouldn't really call it a Romance. I'd call it Historical Fiction with a romantic element. Contrary to what some synopsis say, its not set in the 12th century, various details in the book show its actually set in the mid 14th century.

Anyways, The Healing Tree was a great story about a young man finding love, discovering himself and deepening in his faith after washing up in Cornwall (quite literally: he's shipwrecked). There's some interesting messages about the transient nature of life, and the the way people are remembered by those left behind.

Like a Deb Kinnard's other Medieval novels, the research shows in this book. I suspect that she did more research for this series than her previous novel Seasons in the Mist.
So, there's some interesting details about the culture of Medieval Cornwall, and how it differed slightly from other parts of England, and that goes beyond just using certain Cornish terms and phrases.
There are also details about the structure of the day, morning mass and the chores or activities people typically performed afterwards. Its those little details about day to day life
that gives the reader a 'feel' for Medieval society, and the preoccupations and pressures of the people who lived then. Some Medieval novels come over as very modern and contrived, but this one just feels a lot more real.

I wasn't entirely convinced about Richard's attitude to the clergy at times, as there didn't always seem to be a logical reason for it. More an injection of modern Protestant ideas, but it did not stand out too much nor was it constant throughout the book.
The only other minor niggle I had was that the implication that one character had some kind of 'gift' of foresight, and had visions of he future/knew things about people beyond the normal. I've noted that in one other book by this author but again, it wasn't really a major aspect of this story.

Readers may wish to note that he speech is written in a sort of archaic style, which might make it a little slower to read for some, but that's quite common in Historical Fiction now. Sadly, this novel is also out of Print.
Hopefully, one day this series will be republished. Its certainly one of the better Medieval novels I've read. Not cheesy or cliched, and a nice break from the Fairy Tale type stories that are common. More solid historical.

I was sent a copy by the author after I requested it. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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