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A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Excellent....didn't want it to end...

So good! Some of it is fiction, but that is sometimes necessary to create and hold interest in a story. This story was already beautiful in the Bible. Now its riviting!

posted by Anonymous on January 21, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Danger, Court Intrigue, Romance All In One Package

Joan Wolf in her new book, "A Reluctant Queen" published by Thomas Nelson takes us back in history to the Persian Empire and the time of Esther.

The queen of Persian angers her king and is banished. Now the king has a contest to see who will be the new queen. So al...
Joan Wolf in her new book, "A Reluctant Queen" published by Thomas Nelson takes us back in history to the Persian Empire and the time of Esther.

The queen of Persian angers her king and is banished. Now the king has a contest to see who will be the new queen. So all the beautiful women are brought to the capital and the king spends the night with them. Esther, who really is a Jewish woman, finds out all the likes of the king and is prepared for her night with him. He is so taken with her Esther becomes queen. Haman becomes a trusted advisor to the king and plots to eliminate all the Jews from the Empire. How Esther is able to foil this plot could only be a Biblical event.

Ms. Wolf took an exciting book from the Bible and has done an admirable work in adapting it to a fiction book. Ms. Wolf has made it much more romantic than the Bible portrays it but that is perfectly fine. Ms. Wolf states, in her author's note, that she compressed certain events; a 3 day fast becomes 1, 2 banquets become one and certain events are eliminated all together. This is where I have a problem. We take our historical fiction writers to task when they break from total accuracy and rightly so after all this is history we are talking about. When it comes to Bible stories I feel that the need for accuracy is even more required. After all this is The Bible we are talking about. I don't feel putting the scenes in would have destroyed the pacing actually, I feel, it would have increased the suspense and drama. Other than this issue Ms. Wolf has done a great job and I commend her for it.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

posted by VicG on June 8, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2011

    A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf

    I've gotten a new book from booksneeze, and it's a good one. ? Before I get started, however, I need to say that because of some law thing, I'm under no obligation to give this book a good review and that I received this book for free from the booksneeze program offered by thomas nelson. Okay, now that that's done, let me tell you about this book. "A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther" by Joan Wolf is a- you guessed it- retelling of the biblical account of Esther. I've always loved the story of Esther in the Bible- parts made me sad, satisfied, and at points I felt slightly guilty for giggling at the circumstances (Like Haman hanging on his own gallows. Now who can say ironic?) But at its core, I believe Esther is a story of one young girl's obedience to God and in turn causing a great chain of events to occur that would forever shape a nation, a people, and an empire. Now this book, in my own opinoin, focused more on the romantic part. Or maybe, quite honestly, it was just me. But all in all, I would say that this was a good book. Four out of five stars?

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    New Depth and Richness added to an intriguing story through use of creative license

    While I am fascinated with different takes on the story of Esther and as such was excited about this book I also wondered whether it would be another of the "same" books with a different name because so many books based on this Biblical narrative have been published in recent years. Though this author takes what I would consider significantly more creative license in her book than most authors, this has also allowed her to bring a completely different perspective to a story I've known well for many years. Wolf has fleshed out her fictional Esther in ways that I believe no other writer has with this character. Even the secondary characters in this novelized Esther become richer and deeper as a result of Wolf's research and creativity. For those that want a Bible Study or true to scripture sort of presentation/take on Esther then please read this understanding that it is a novel and thus fictional as well as that the author intentionally veers from the scriptural facts purposely for the sake of plot and characters that make the book. If fiction and the Bible don't mix in your opinion then I suggest sticking to non-fiction or scripture itself however I personally find that reading historical fiction that is inspired from scriptural events brings a deeper, richer understanding of people and circumstances from a time and place I will never have the opportunity to experience first hand. Wolf as I mentioned has brought an entirely new dimension to Esther, several secondary characters from the scriptures regarding her experience, Susa and it's place in the Persian empire at this juncture. Politics plays a part as it must but Esther's placement in the palace and her relationship with Persia's then king as his queen takes on a tone of God-Ordained circumstances that all intersect just perfectly for Mordecai to place a Jew in a position to advocate for their people. The path to her joining the harem is much more meditated and calculated on Mordecai's part than the Bible story but Esther's attitude is also less resigned to what will be to the point she actually intends to make herself as unpalatable to the king as she can with the intent to escape what she sees as a forced imprisonment where the cultural and societal rules she was raised under are entirely reversed. Thanks to Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze Program for a review copy.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    Loved it!

    When I first began reading this book, I was taken aback by the author changing some of the Biblical facts in the novel. After some outside encouragement, I decided to give the novel another chance. I am so glad I did.

    The story of Esther is one of my favorites in the Bible, probably due to the hero actually being a heroine. In the novel, A Reluctant Queen, the author Joan Wolf has created a fictional account of the Biblical story of Esther. At first glance all you many notice is the changing of some Biblical facts. But if you look more closely, you will see the author has done some thorough research. I actually learned some new things while reading the novel, because I did my own research in the Bible and on Persia to see what facts matched up with the novel. I don't have time to list everything here, but I will give you some examples.

    In the novel the Royal family takes a journey to Ecbatana, the capital city of Media. In the fictional story it is a long journey taking many days. I have looked at Biblical archaeological maps, and Ecbatana is an actual city that lies within a mountain range and it appears to be accurately portrayed as to the length of time it would take to arrive there by foot and by horse. Also, Hatach in the novel is a eunuch assigned to attend to Esther. In the actual account in the Old Testament, Hatach is a real person and is referred to as chamberlain in the King James Version of the Bible. In my research I found out that the word chamberlain would be more accurately translated "eunuch." This is another example in the novel of an accurate Biblical fact. I had never noticed Hatach before I believe because so much attention is always given to Hegai. These are just but two examples and for brevity's sake, I won't go on.

    This novel turned out to be my favorite book I have gotten from Booksneeze so far. It was romantic, yes, but there was so much more to it than that. It is a fictional account, without a doubt, but the author did such a beautiful job with the story that it draws you to the scriptures. The character of the king is warm and wise, and I don't know how she did it, but she developed him to such a point that she made him almost Christ-like. It made me wonder who the savior is in the actual account. Esther? Mordecai? Or was it Xerxes, because the Biblical account's main objective is the salvation and preservation of the Jews.

    Usually, I give a list of people I recommend this book for. Not this time. This time I just want to simply say, I recommend this book.

    Many blessings to you and Happy Reading! ~Beth Jeremiah 29:11 *Disclaimer: I received this book from Booksneeze as part of a free books for bloggers program. I am not required to give a favorable review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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  • Posted June 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great historical biblical romance~!!

    A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Queen Esther is a fictional account of the biblical story of Esther.

    The story of Esther is one of the few books in the bible that is about a woman. In A Reluctant Queen she is fifteen years old when she agrees to her Uncle Mordecai's scheme to win the ear of the Persian king, Ahasuerus, in order to secure the Jewish lands in Palestine.

    Esther is against the proposal, but enters the marriage contest that the King has decreed. All the beautiful woman are to come before him and he will judge who is most appropriate to become his new wife. Esther believes she will never be chosen, nor does she wish to be, and unhappily complies with all the primping and preening that occurs in order to properly attire herself to meet the King.

    On the day of her interview, Esther vows she will be an unwilling participant and by her actions, make the King wish to choose another. Esther didn't reckon on enjoying Ahasuerus' attention and personality. Growing up in a Jewish household, even though she is part Persian herself, Esther has come to believe that all Persian's are animals who are not to be trusted and when she finds herself liking the King, her life makes a turn in a direction she had hoped it never would.

    On that day that Esther takes her marriage vows, her life is irrevocably changed forever. Will she gain the trust of her husband and make amends for her people, in the name of God?? Or will her love for him keep her voice silent? As Esther comes to realize that their whole relationship is built on lies and that the King upholds the truth before any other moral tenet, she puts her faith in the hands of God and allows her destiny to flourish.

    As far as love stories go, I enjoyed this book. Esther was likeable in her innocence and naivety, although her age bothered me, she didn't come across as a mere fifteen year old girl, but someone older and wiser. I enjoyed reading her innermost thoughts about the patriarchal culture she lives in and her realization that woman were just tokens in a game, appalled and dismayed her and her religious belief system became rocky. I thought Joan Wolf captured that essence of woman remarkably and found it enlightening to read.

    King Ahasuerus was likeable also, his and Esther's romantic spark was a beautiful read. It had a touch of comedic appeal that was charming. I couldn't help but want these two together, without all the politics that lead them to each other involved, that is. The customs and practices of the different cultures was an interesting read, like how the King was able to divorce his first wife, I found that to be very clever.

    Though there are some truths inside the pages, for the most part, the story is a compilation of historical data with some fantasy thrown in. The fact that Xerxes and Ahasuerus were mayhaps the same person, works against having Xerxes as his brother in the novel, you have to keep to heart, that this is a work of fiction. Author Joan Wolf has taken a story, in which historical documentation is fleeting at best and incorporated another angle on the way things could have gone. From a romantic aspect, the book is a well-written, descriptive historical re-imaging of one woman's destiny as God's chosen instrument.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    Recommended for people who love Historical Christian Fiction

    My Review of: "A Reluctant Queen, The Love Story of Esther", by Joan Wolf
    This book is a fictional story based upon The Book of Esther, from the Bible. It takes place during 485BC, in Susa, under the new leadership of the new King Ahasuerus, who spent his summers in Ecbattana where it was cooler, as Susa was so hot.
    Esther had been raised by her Uncle, Uncle Mordecai, after a massacre happened in her hometown of the land of Edomites, where they were then driven into exile in Babylon. During this invasion, both her parents were killed and Uncle Mordecai took her in as his own to raise her. Esther had been raised as a Jewish girl.
    There came a time when the Edomites sent a letter to the Great King asking him to confirm their rights to southern Judah. They got it, but, the Prophet,Obadiah were in a frenzy claiming Edomite stole southern Judah. Mordecai was worried about war breaking out and got an idea that if Esther got into the palace to represent the Jewish people, then she could be the one to help their people.
    Esther wasn't so sure about this plan. What about the boyfriend she had and was thinking of possibly marrying? Would he still be home waiting for her when she got back?
    Esther really didn't understand the role she would end up playing at the palace. What was her destiny meant to be? How could 'she' do anything that would help her people? The decision was made for her and she still couldn't quite understand why. She would be the one to go to the palace and take the chance of possibly marrying the King. She never thought it would happen to her. It would be one of the other girls. That's good, she thought, her father was not Jewish and this is how she would enter the palace, but would she even be accepted if the King knew her mother was Jewish? This fact would have to be kept secret. She got to the King's Harem and was greeted badly. Put down for how her hair and skin looked. Thus, started the beauty regime.
    Eventually the King does choose Esther as his Queen. She falls deeply in love with him, he deeply in love with her. She never tells him she is part Jewish until . . . this is when she finally understands why and what her role is to play as the Queen. Can't go on anymore because there will be to many spoilers! I think anyone who enjoys reading novels about the books of the Bible will enjoy this story very much and they will enjoy the story in historical detail.
    I really enjoyed this book a lot. I loved how the author turned this story into a book. I like it when the books of the Bible are turned into novels. It seems as if we can relate to them much better than reading the Book of the Bible by itself when it has been turned into a story that is much more easily understood. It certainly adds to the stories.
    This author took great care in writing this story to make sure the history and everything related exactly as it did in the Bible at that time. The last time I read a book like this that related to a book of the Bible was "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant, which turned out to be one of my favorite books. This book is also similar to "Hadassah, One Night with the King, A Novel" by Tommy Tenney.
    Personally, I really like the Books of the Bible turned into novels a lot. I love how the research is done to a "T".
    I received this book from Publicist LitFuse and the Publisher Thomas Nelson for free in exchange for a review.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011


    This story caught my attention because of the interesting idea of taking a Bible story and turning it into a deep, complex love story. Now, I am not Christian or Jewish, therefore the Bible is not a book I know very well, but I was familiar with the story of Esther. It interested me to see how Ms. Wolf would manage to turn the characters into multidimensional ones when they are so flat in the original story.
    In my opinion, she succeeded immensely. Yes, of course, she had to manipulate plot lines and create motives to make the characters' actions believable, but she managed to build a complex system of actions that make sense. I do wish she'd made Esther a bit stronger, she seemed to be a too easily manipulated by her uncle, but I guess there was just so much Wolf could change in the story. Ahasuerus fared better, though his actions towards his first wife, the one Esther replaces, is a bit bizarre and out of character.
    The ambience was fabulous, you could practically feel the hot Arabian sun as you turned the pages, and smell the spices that filled the royal palace. The author does not lose any opportunity to submerge us in the exotic flavors of the land.
    I expected the story to be much preachier than it was. It is a Bible tale, after all. But Wolf handled it beautifully, inserting the right amount of God without turning it into a boring sermon. The faults I found are minor, and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to lose herself in a tale that is wrapped in damask and sparkling with jewels.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Reluctant Queen

    "A Reluctant Queen," is the fictionalized book about Queen Esther from the Bible. Because I had never read Biblical fiction I wasn't sure how well I would enjoy this story but decided to try it anyway. For a fictionalized historical love story it wasn't bad, but for me I think I was expecting it to be a bit more Biblically accurate. Other than that it was a pretty interesting story. The author really pulls you into the timeperiod of the story, I liked the descriptions of the area and clothing worn at that time as well as learning some of the customs, and how it might have been for a young girl to have lived during that time period. If your looking for a historical romance that is loosely based on the Bible then you should certainly pick up this book. I for one really enjoyed it and look forward to reading my next Biblical fiction story. Book provided by Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    A Reluctant Queen

    A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf tells the story of the biblical Queen of Persia, Esther. (From the book of Esther in the Old Testament). Truthfully, as a woman, one of my favourite stories from the bible is the story of Esther, for her courage, her faith and her love has inspired me. It always amaze me how a single act of faith, could really save the lives of many.

    A Reluctant Queen was written in a very romantic way, and even though I feel that it does not exactly follow the bible word by word, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. It's very well written and very emotional. It's as if the Persian court came to life through 'A Reluctant Queen' by Joan Wolf.

    If I were to rate this book, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars. I received an ARC of this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher in exchange of an honest review.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    The author, Joan Wolf took a story from the bible and turned it into this tender, romantic tale of a young Jewish woman who won a King's heart. Aside from being such a romantic and inspiring tale, The Reluctant Queen also made the settings in which the story unfolded a thousand years ago easy to relate with and understand despite the time difference.

    This story did well in showing the true essence of the biblical Esther's character--a brave queen who is not ashamed of her own heritage despite the fact that knowledge of it may endanger her whole life. This book also shows the many good things that can come from having an unwavering faith in God and in patiently waiting for His will to be done.

    This book tells an exceptional tale of love, faith and courage that every woman should enjoy, regardless of whether she is a bible enthusiast or not. The words are not preachy and are very easy to read and understand. I got this book on my e-book reading device and I couldn't put it down. I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

    I got a copy of this book to review from Booksneeze.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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