~ About the Book ~
Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.
Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.
Series: #1 Cities of Refuge
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release date: 6 February 2018
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
A loud laugh a few paces away called my attention to a small group near one of the braziers—four young men, standing in a circle, chatting together as they surveyed the garden of white-veiled maidens fluttering around the dancing ground.
One of them, a dark-haired man whose back was toward me gestured widely, eliciting a laugh from his companions. Although not the tallest of the group, something about him must be compelling; the rest of the men—soldiers by the look of them—seemed to regard him with admiration.
Although I could not hear the words, the pleasing rise and fall of his deep voice nearly enticed me to step closer and hear for myself whatever story he was telling that so intrigued and amused his friends.
He tilted his head back to drain his wine cup and then lifted it in the air as if dismayed that it was empty. He turned toward me, seeming to search out the wine servers, a low laugh still on his lips.
My curious gaze collided with his dark-eyed one. Firelight tinged his tousled brown hair and the edges of his full beard with red. He was wide-shouldered, with a muscular frame that spoke of service within the forces of Israel; for certain a soldier, with a glimmer in his eye that could only be humor at my expense. I’d been caught—gawking. The corner of his mouth twitched as he stared back, boldly and with a question in the tilt of his brow.
My pulse pounded in my ears for a moment, my hand nearly flying to my cheek—until I remembered that he could not see the awful scar. He did not know who I was or what had happened to me. Tonight I was just another maiden in a white dress. So, dredging up a small measure of my former pluck, I smiled widely behind my veil, letting the gesture reach my eyes. His answering smile warmed me all the way to my sandals. He took one determined step toward me.
Someone bumped me from behind, knocking me forward. I turned to offer an apology, my cheeks still heated from the quick exchange with the dark-eyed soldier, although it was I who’d been standing still.
A white-clad maiden spun on me.
“My apologies,” I said, my gaze connecting with kohl-lined green eyes. The girl’s veil and headscarf had come undone, revealing her face and a hank of golden-brown hair curling over her shoulder. Recognition flared through me—it was that awful girl from the market. Her two friends stood nearby, mirroring her condescending glare.
She leaned closer, peering at me. The flame from the brazier behind her must have highlighted the scar that crossed my eyelid, and her eyes rounded in surprise.
I tripped back a couple of steps, reflexively glancing over my shoulder. The soldier had gone away, perhaps to refill his cup, leaving his friends behind. The knotted clench of my stomach released slightly. At least he would not be witness to this girl’s baseless disdain.
“Why are you here?” said the girl, her words ascending in pitch and volume. “You have no business at this festival.” I could nearly taste her bitterness on my tongue.
Voices around us hushed, as if everyone were anticipating my response.
~ Review ~
If you love Biblical fiction and you haven’t discovered Connilyn Cossette, you’re missing out big time! Having thoroughly wowed me with her Out of Egypt series, she’s taken things one step further with this new series with a story that feels like a whole new genre: Biblical romantic suspense! Not only has she breathed life into a little known aspect of Ancient Israel’s society, but she’s told a captivating romantic suspense story at the same time, as Moriyah travels on foot across a partially conquered Canaan, trying to outpace and avoid the avenger of blood as she makes her way to a city of refuge.
The instruction to set up cities of refuge—cities where a person who has accidentally killed someone may seek refuge from the avenger of blood—is given in Numbers 35, but beyond knowing they existed, I hadn’t really given them much thought. Until now. Through this story, I discovered what a beautiful foreshadowing they are of the refuge we find in Christ. They also highlight the way in which God’s mercy and justice are in constant tension in this life.
As for the characters themselves, we met Moriyah in Wings of the Wind, and although you don’t need to read that story prior to this one, you will know the full story behind the mark that brands her face if you have read it. I loved the integrity of the hero in this story and his capacity to love Moriyah, and I absolutely adored the romantic tension between him and Moriyah throughout the story. If that sounds vague, it’s for a reason—I loved the surprises in the way the story unfolded, particularly in the beginning, which sets up the romantic tension between Moriyah and the hero.
If you enjoy Biblical fiction, historical fiction, romantic suspense, or even just a great story, make sure you acquaint yourself with Connilyn Cossette’s books!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Connilyn Cossette is the author of the Out from Egypt Series with Bethany House Publishers. When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kiddos (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn is scribbling notes on scraps of paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Texas where she loves the people but misses mountains, tall trees and barefoot-soft green grass. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into fiction.