Harvest of Gold is the second book in Tessa Afshar's Harvest series! It has been nominated for the 2014 Christy Awards, in the Historical Romance category! So, in honor of that, I decided to reread it and write a review. :)
The scribe, Sarah, married Darius, and at times she feels as if she has married the Persian aristocracy, too. There is another point she did not count on in her marriage - Sarah has grown to love her husband. Sarah has wealth, property, honor, and power, but her husband's love still seems unattainable.
Although her mother was an Israelite, Darius remains skeptical that his Jewish wife is the right choice for him, particularly when she conspires with her cousin Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ordered to assist in the effort, the couple begins a journey to the homeland of his mother's people. Will the road filled with danger, conflict, and surprising memories, help Darius to see the hand of God at work in his life - and even in his marriage?
A hidden message, treachery, opposition, and a God-given success, will it to an unlikely bounty.
Tessa Afshar was born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She survived English boarding school for girls before movies to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her mid-twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDIV from Yale University where she served as co-chair for the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spend the last twelve years in full and part-time Christian work and currently serves at the leader of Women's and Prayer ministries at a church in New England.
(Description, author bio, and cover photo found on Deeper Shopping. All rights reserved.)
Another excellent book by Tessa Afshar! 5 stars
Harvest of Gold is the second book in Tessa Afshar's Harvest series. This book is set around the event of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. In it we continue to follow the story of Darius, Sarah, and of course, Nehemiah. Unlike Harvest of Rubies, we get to read the story from the point of view of all 3 main characters, something I immensely enjoyed. While I also liked reading the previous one from Sarah's view point, this one I felt had a little more depth. I liked knowing what was going on with each of them and what they were thinking.
If Harvest of Rubies is Sarah's book, then this one is Darius'. We get to know and understand him better. Honestly, he isn't a very likeable character, at first. He is hard, bitter, and I didn't care for how he treated Sarah. As I continued reading, I still had a hard time caring for him, though I did like him a little more. I finally fell in love with him about halfway through the book, when we start to understand what drives him.
Darius has a very high moral standard, so when Sarah doesn't tell him something important, he once again withdraws from her. I really wanted him to stand up and get it together, but that wasn't part of his character, yet. Even though I was rather apathetic toward him, I still enjoyed his journey. I was looking forward to seeing him redeemed and Ms. Afshar did an excellent job.
Sarah was her usual self; spunky, sassy, and bold. I still adored her and her heart. There was one point when I wanted to shake her, but that just made her more real to me. I have to really care about characters for them to frustrate me that much.
I believe the main spiritual themes of this book are forgiveness and surrender. Darius must learn both. He has spent most of his life refusing to feel or let others too close, but with Sarah in his life, breaking down his walls, he's struggling to maintain his distance. This alone makes him lash out at her when she makes a mistake. He lays all the blame at her feet and shuts down even further. He must learn to forgive, something that only truly works with the Father's help. He also must learn to surrender, which is a battle he fights through most of the book. I appreciated his struggle with both themes. Ms. Afshar doesn't try to gloss over either, but rather portrays both as the difficult issues they are.
Sarah must also learn to surrender, both to God and to Darius. She has been taking care of herself for so long, that she has a hard time trusting Darius to make decisions regarding her well-being. The same is true of her trust in God. When she faces a trial, she asks, "where are You, God?" as we all do at some time or another. She doesn't understand why God would allow the circumstance and she struggles to surrender to Him, to trust that He knows best.
I really enjoyed the secondary characters, Lysander, Roxanna, and Pari! While they really are secondary and we don't know them well, I fell in love with each of them. I wish Lysander and Roxanna would get their own book, but I believe Ms. Afshar plans to leave their story up to her readers' imaginations.
The descriptions were so vivid! I often felt as though I was actually there, traveling with them, or viewing the city of Jerusalem for the first time. Ms. Afshar really brings history to life in all of her books and this one is no exception! Her stories draw you in and refuse to let go until the end, even the occasional frustrating character can't take away from her masterful writing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction!
For more information about this book and the author's others, please visit her website, www.tessaafshar.com
Her next book, In the Field of Grace, releases July 2014 (I love the cover!).
(cover photo found on author's website)