Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protection of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.
Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.
As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from within and without Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?
I’ve read most of Connilyn’s books but one, which is the very first book she wrote (and is currently in my e-book library), and I can now say that I won’t be disappointed with any new book she writes (or maybe the correct words are I have confidence that I won’t be disappointed). Her strength as a writer is in her characters, her ability to draw out vivid and deeply felt personalities in each one of them, even the tertiary extras. With each word spoken from a character, I can almost see them on the page and envision their tone, personality, and expression.
Okay, so on with the story.
This story is the third installment of the Cities of Refuge series. You don’t have to read the other books to understand what takes place in this story, but it is a progression of what happened in the first and second books. In other words, characters from the first stories show up, but their roles are secondary and don’t affect the overall plot.
What I liked about this story, other than the authenticity of characters, was the underlying message, which is a theme in Connilyn’s books. It follows Rivkah, a young widow forced to marry Malakhi, the “annoying” little brother of her late husband. Of course Rivkah’s not interested, due to the childhood follies that occurred between her and Malakhi, and decides to run away when the opportunity arises.
As the story progresses, there is a transformation in Rivkah and Malakhi, one of overcoming rebellion, dealing with its consequences, and finding forgiveness, not only to others who were affected by one’s choices, but in one’s self. If you love transformation and redemption stories, this is a perfect example of that.
What I didn’t like? I gave this some thought and still struggled to find any real issues. I thought the pacing was well—each chapter served a purpose, either that of internal growth or evolution in Rivkah or Malakhi, or a progression of the plot. I didn’t find myself confused over anything, and there were several moments where something “shocking” or alarming happened that prevented me from putting the book down (even when I needed to). The only thing I would say is if you haven’t read the first two books, you might be curious to know why certain relationships between characters are the way they are, but even with that, I think Connilyn does a good job hinting at what led to such relationships.
In closing, I loved how the story wrapped up and I felt content as a reader. I also loved seeing a bit of the character who will be the heroine for the last book in the series that comes out next year.
I would recommend this book to those who like biblical historical fiction or fiction that takes place during the biblical times, and those who love character driven stories that have messages of transformation and redemption.
5 out of 5 stars. I did my best to find parts that were issues in the story, and honestly, there was none that kept me from turning the pages or asking questions that should be answered. I enjoyed the subtle suspense at times and the deep internal insight Rivkah and Malakhi had about themselves.
***This book was given to me by NetGallery for an honest review.***