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Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintancesalong with her father’s precious dyehelp her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Bread of Angels
By Tessa Afshar, Kathryn S. Olson
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2017 Tessa Afshar
All rights reserved.
TWENTY-SIX YEARS EARLIER
Their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. JEREMIAH 10:9
PURPLE YARN HUNG from thin trees, swaying in the breeze like odd-shaped fruit; dark-lavender fabric the color of old bruises spread over two rough-hewn stone benches, drying in the sun; a large plum-colored mosaic of geometric designs dominated the otherwise-plain garden. In the shade, a massive vat the size of a diminutive Roman bath sloshed with purple dye so dense it looked black except when a ray of sunlight found its way over the surface, illuminating its true color.
The mistress of this purple kingdom, a young woman in loose, patched clothing, hunched in front of the vat, her forehead damp with perspiration. She had prepared the formula as her father had taught her. It was time to soak the linen. Her father usually conducted this part of the process. His was the genius that had created the dye in the first place; his the skill that turned ordinary yarn into lush, purple beauty. Lydia had never gone through the process of dyeing without his help. Her father was the dye master. She merely acted as his assistant, a role she relished. The thought of dyeing the wool alone made her grit her teeth.
Eumenes was late. He should have arrived over an hour ago.
Lydia wiped the sweat trickling down her temple and stared into the vat. She thought about the unusually large order they had to fill within the next two weeks. There was no time for delay. Every hour counted if they were to make a prompt delivery.
Her stomach churned as she considered their narrow schedule. Most of their local clients suffered from a strange inconsistency. They had no qualms being late in their payments to an honest merchant, but if their merchandise arrived a few days after the promised date, they acted as if the world were ending. Demanding all manner of reparations, they threatened to blight the merchant's truest treasure: his reputation.
When the two orders had arrived, one on top of another, Lydia had objected to her father, demanding that he delay at least one. "It is too much," she had said. "We cannot accomplish it all in such a short time."
He had laughed at her objections. "You despair when we have no orders, imagining that we will grow impoverished and lose our home. When we do receive two perfectly good requests, you worry that it is too much and we will fail to meet expectations. You must make up your mind, Daughter. Which is it to be? Shall we starve or perish of overwork?"
Lydia found that she had no problem dreading either eventuality, which did not help her present situation. Where was her father?
She fetched several of the hefty baskets overflowing with linen yarn from their workshop, located in the eastern end of the garden. The baskets were heavy — too heavy for a sixteen-year-old girl. Lydia gritted her teeth and half dragged, half carried them, one shuffling step at a time, until they were within easy reach of the dyeing vat.
On the other side of the garden, a three-minute walk from the workshop, lay their modest home with its three rooms, its crooked walls, the leaking ceiling that her father never had time to fix, and the fading furniture that no amount of purple could transform into a semblance of riches. But it was theirs, and she never felt so secure anywhere in the world as when she was nestled within the safety of its walls with her father nearby.
Lydia set the baskets of prepared linen in neat order near the vat, like naked babies ready to be bathed. In truth, she knew what to do. More than once her father had given her permission to complete the task without him. "Your problem is not lack of knowledge," he had said again and again. "It is lack of confidence. You fear you might fail. I trust you will succeed."
She cringed every time he suggested it. "In my ignorance, if I make a mistake and ruin a batch of dye or yarn or a perfectly good length of fabric, who will pay for my error? You know we cannot afford costly mistakes like that."
He never insisted. Her father was too gentle for that. She wondered now if this was some test, this delay. Had he chosen to stay away from home to force her hand and leave her no choice but to embark on the process alone?
She chewed on dry lips. Nausea clawed at her belly as she contemplated the mounds of yarn. Intentional or not, she needed to make a decision. Once she started soaking the linen, there would be no going back. She would have to see the dyeing of the linen through to the end. Stopping at the wrong moment would ruin the batch.
Reaching for a fat wad of yarn, she began to unwind it so that it could be immersed into the liquid properly. Too many dyers filled their vats with an excess of yarn, thinking to save their dye. But that meant the yarn would not soak up enough color and would emerge patchy, without the steadfastness that her father's process produced.
When the linen was ready, she took a deep breath, her outstretched hands shaking as she crouched by the vat, poised to begin the process. An unexpected noise made her grow still. Just outside, along the narrow path that ran adjacent to their land, a man's groan followed by the sound of heavy, shuffling steps broke the silence. Without warning, the door leading to the garden crashed open, hitting the wall with a great noise. Lydia jumped.
Clutching the forgotten linen to her breast, she sprang to her feet. A man she did not recognize burst into the courtyard, half carrying someone slumped against his shoulder, one leg dragging with each step.
She noticed two things before she began to run. First, blood. A great deal of blood clinging to the slumping man so that his hair, face, and leg were covered with it. And second, with dawning horror, she realized that the face so covered in seeping scarlet belonged to none other than her father.
"Oh gods." Her voice emerged as an indistinguishable croak. "Father! What has happened?" The yarn fell unheeded from her nerveless fingers to the stone-paved ground.
Her father roused himself enough to give a weak smile. "It looks worse than it is. This young fellow saved my life."
Lydia spared the man who held her father in a tight grip a brief glance. She had an impression of light-green eyes and a face that Apollo would be happy to own before she returned her attention to her injured parent.
With trembling fingers, she touched his warm cheek and quelled her desire to snatch him away from the strong, supportive arms of the young Apollo. Carrying her father into the house alone was not a realistic option. She would collapse under the burden of his sinking weight.
"This way. Follow me. We must set him down so that I can see to his wounds," she said. The young man trailed her into the house without comment.
Her father's thin mattress sat on the floor of his chamber, his blankets neatly folded at the bottom. "Settle him on the bed," she said, her voice a thread. "Please," she added, trying to remember manners in the midst of terror.
"It's a small injury, Lydia," Eumenes panted. "Don't worry yourself." The loud groan of pain that escaped his lips as Apollo laid him down on the mattress did little to support his claim.
"What happened?" she asked again, parting his tunic where it lay shredded against his leg. She winced, feeling queasy as she saw the long gash that ran the length of his thigh. The smell of blood, the sight of the wound, the heat of the room made her feel short of breath.
Time seemed to recede, to double in on itself.
For a moment she felt the world shift as if she were no longer in this room but in a chamber of dreams, kneeling next to a woman whose face was hidden in shadows. Blood covered everything — the woman's clothing, the sheets — and dripped in fat drops on the stone-gray floor. Lydia took a shivery breath, trying to clear her mind of this strange overlap until her gaze returned to the bedside of her father and her thinking regained its focus.
Eumenes squeezed his eyes shut. Gritting his teeth he said, "Crazy horse."
"A horse did this to you?"
"Not entirely," Apollo said. "I saw what happened. A man was leading a horse by its bridle when the animal began rearing up. Something must have spooked it. The beast pulled away from the hold of its master and continued to balk and rear on its hind legs. Your father was standing in the wrong place at the wrong moment. The horse's hooves knocked him sideways. I happened to be on hand and managed to calm the horse and pull him back."
"He was like Hercules, bringing that monster under control with a touch," her father said.
Apollo grinned. "Your father began to regain his balance. His injuries would have been minor if not for the unfortunate coincidence that he was standing near the top of a hill. His foot slipped at the last moment, and he went over the edge. He cut himself on some jutting rocks and brambles as he rolled down. Most of these injuries are from his fall, not the horse."
Excerpted from Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar, Kathryn S. Olson. Copyright © 2017 Tessa Afshar. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
Achingly tender from the first flutter of romance to the last sting of betrayal, Bread of Angels is an intensely emotive and satisfying read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What is so nice about Tessa Afshar is that while she writes fiction, it follows the Bible. And she is so easy to read. I forget the time when I start one of her books. She can make you smell the dust & feel the sun & breezes. Her characters come alive & become your friends or she can make you feel distrust. I enjoyed visiting with Paul & seeing & hearing his joy over one soul saved. I would definitely recommend her books.
Bread of Angels is another wonderful book by Tessa Afshar. I’ve read several of her books and have never been disappointed. She is a talented storyteller who draws the reader back to Bible times and delivers a message of love, hope, and faith. There is a lovely and familiar cast of characters—Lydia (the seller of purple, Phillipi, Paul, and more. It is effortless to sink into this story, and my emotions were given a tough workout. I love a story that makes me feel strongly—whether it’s amused, heartbroken, joyful, or angry. And I love it when I’m taken back to Bible times, learning the customs and such. It was easy to sympathize with Lydia and felt the wounds of betrayal and fear. It seems with each Afshar novel I read I love it more than the previous one—but the fact is, they are all superb. Lovely writing, brilliant storytelling, with a ministering and inspiring message. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network and NetGalley.
Deb’s Dozen: Lydia, maker of purple, friend, benefactor-first convert to Christianity in Philippi. Tessa Afshar writes such beautiful, believable biblical fiction. Bread of Angels, the story of Lydia, the first convert in Asia, is such a story. But Tessa begins far before that event takes place. She weaves Lydia’s story from when she was a girl in Thyatira, telling of the circumstances of her upbringing and the reason she set sail for Philippi. Tessa gives Lydia a friend, Rebekah, who stays with her after Lydia takes care of her when she is homeless and hungry. Lydia struggles as a woman alone, attempting to run a business in a culture where women are nothing unless married or under the protection of a man. But she perseveres with Rebekah’s help along with that of Rebekah’s God. Rebekah has taught her that in her time of greatest need, God will provide bread of angels to sustain her-not physical food, but situational or spiritual aid to surmount the difficulties. You will so enjoy getting to know Lydia as told through the eyes and pen of a talented storyteller. Biblical characters like Epaphroditus and Syntyche and Paul and Silas and Dr. Luke come alive on the pages of Bread of Angels. Five stars! Tessa Afshar is a newly married, award-winning author of several volumes of historical biblical fiction. She was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Readers’ Choice Awards for Pearl in the Sand. She has an MDiv from Yale and has spent the last seventeen years in full-time Christian work in New England. And she’s a truly wonderful person and a delight to know. Tyndale Publishing gave me an Advance Reader Copy of Bread of Angels, but I was in no way obligated to write a review.
This was my first book by Tessa Afshar, but it definitely won’t be my last. “Bread of Angels” is a stunning work of Christian biblical fiction, providing a rich backstory for Lydia, a seller of purple cloth who is mentioned in Acts 16. She is remarkable not only for her conversion to Christianity and for her hospitality, but also for being an unmarried yet successful businesswoman. At the tale’s opening she is a teenage girl working with her father to create the purple dye that he has perfected, but storm clouds soon appear on the horizon, and Lydia’s life is forever altered. Although she perseveres, fear continually dogs Lydia throughout her life, along with a sense of guilt and shame at the secrets she keeps. Her story is one of a gentle, industrious life, and yet her heart cannot find true peace. One day, however, she meets some visitors to Philippi, and as her story coalesces with those of the apostles, she realizes—in more ways than one—what she has been missing. “Bread of Angels” quickly drew me into Lydia’s story, and her sometimes harrowing experiences lent a touch of suspense to the narrative that made this book a difficult one to put down. Each chapter begins with an epigraph, a quotation from Scripture, which serves as a chapter title of sorts and which correlates to the action in the novel while also further grounding the work theologically. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in women of the Bible and in Christian fiction in general.
When I stumbled across this book on NetGalley I knew I had to request it. I hadn't read Afshar's writing before but the synopsis drew me in. The story of Lydia, the first believer on the continent, who invited Paul and Silas into her home, was a draw like no other. What I anticipated and what I read were not the same thing however. It was an engaging story that cast you into the characters but I never bonded with the characters, I never felt their hurt or fear or pain or longing or even their joy. The story moves along well, telling the story of Lydia with her father and how she came to be in Philippi. It tells of her meeting, and subsequently rescuing Rebekah. It tells of how they met Paul and Silas and his group on the banks of the river. It tells of her salvation and the growth of the church there. The story is well told. I could picture the scenes, the people. I could smell the smells. But I couldn't feel the fear. I couldn't feel their excitement. I couldn't even feel their joy. The story read smoothly but I didn't 'feel' anything. Everything was glossed over. It was told well but it missed depth. This is book is well told but I wish it had more. Characters I could bond with and ache with. Characters I could rejoice with and embrace. I'm glad I read it as it delved deeper (even if fictionally) into the story of Lydia and her purple dye (really purple....that almost turned me off :D) and the church of Philippi. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
read of AngelsI just discovered Tessa Afshar as an author a few months ago and she became one of my favorite authors. Her books touch my heart and my emotions. Her research is so thorough that you will be transported to early Biblical times like you are actually there. Lydia is the seller of purple. She is mentioned briefly in the New Testatment. Others have told you what the book is about - I just want you to know this book brought tear to my eyes/cheeks. The hardships, the journey and finding faith will touch you in so many ways. When a books touches my emotions, brings tears to my eyes or is a page-turner I automatically leave a book review. I have Tessa Afshar on my favorite authors' list at a indy. bookstore & they pre-order all of her books for me. No one asked me to leave a review. All opinions are my own & I will always leave a review on any book I can honestly say is a 5 star rating. If you enjoy Biblical history/fiction then anything by Tessa Afshar is a winner. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Definitely a "keeper".
Bread of Angels comes to life by Tessa’s masterfully retelling in Acts 16! Lydia is dyes and sells purple, she learned this craft beside her father. Lydia meets up with Paul and becomes a follower of Jesus! Tessa brings Acts to life! The characters, the scenes, everything in this book transports you to the time of Lydia’s days. This is one story you will want to immerse yourself in! Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Oh. My. This book is amazing!!! I haven't read a book that has touched me spiritually in a long time. And this fiction book managed to do that. This was a book that drew me in and didn't let go and I didn't want it to let me go even when I reached the last page. I had to keep reminding myself that Lydia had no belief in God at the beginning. She was so kind through the whole book but she had no faith. Paul doesn't show up in the book for a long time but when he does he is brought to life in a way I have never felt before. I also loved how characters from the previous book that Tessa wrote (Land of Silence) were brought into this one, and the realization hat Lydia made an appearance in that book and I didn't even know it. I really can't say enough about this book. It is deeply touching, it will remind you of the freshness of the gospel and how we need to always keep that in the forefront of our minds. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Bread of Angels was an interesting approach to learning more about Lydia of Thyatira from Acts 16. It is quite a long book and takes a while to build the background. I found myself glossing over the pages until I actually got to the Biblical accounts. And then the book captured more of my attention. It was interesting learning about the culture of the day and how women who were not Roman and not married could really have a difficult time on their own. I appreciated the boldness and determined character of Lydia. She had such a wonderfully kind heart. Bread of Angels was the third book I have read from Tessa Afshar. It wasn’t a favorite. But I loved her book Pearl in the Sand. So I still recommend this author. And I am sure there will be many who enjoy this book especially those who don’t mind a long wait to get to the actual Biblical fiction. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review
As a young woman who grew up in the shadow of her father, a master of making purple dye, Lydia is competent in dye making. Yet her fear holds her back from embracing the complete process without her father's help. After her father is injured, Lydia must face her fear and fulfill customer orders alone. Once recovered, Lydia's father entrustes her with his precious formula secrets. Far too soon, Lydia finds herself on her own with few assets other than dye making knowledge. Through past connections and ambition, Lydia restarts with a dye business of her own in Phillippi. Yet fear follows Lydia to her new home, until one man brings an astounding message of freedom. Read more in Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar. Bread of Angels is the latest stand-alone fiction novel by Tessa Afshar. I enjoyed the small tie-in to her previous novel, Land of Silence, but reading Elianna's story is not necessary to enjoy Lydia's. I felt that Afshar held closely to the narrative regarding Lydia in the New Testament book of Acts though the back story of where Lydia came from and why she eagerly embraced Christianity is fictional. I enjoyed Lydia's thorough character development and commend the author for bringing Lydia to face her fear rather than concocting an escape. As usual, Tessa Afshar's writing style was beautiful and the plot flowed well. I especially enjoyed the post-conversion part of the book when it seemed the author really focused in on themes regarding fear and the power of the work that Jesus accomplished for all believers. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around some of the excellent messages in this book. I recommend Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar to fans of Biblical fiction. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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."
I confess – I was predisposed to like this book because I read the previous one – and I was not disappointed! It was phenomenal and I just absolutely loved it! It did cost me a little sleep one night because I just could not put it down! Lydia is known in the Bible as the dealer of purple cloth who Paul meets in Philippi (Acts 16). This is her story – from her early adolescence in Thyatira to her life in Philippi. The author Tessa Afshar has done her research on Roman life and brings the ancient days to life, giving the reader a rich understanding of Biblical days but in an enjoyable, fascinating novel. She adroitly weaves in Biblical narrative, bringing so much more meaning and understanding to the events in Acts. Bread of Angels is a sequel to Land of Silence but is a complete separate story – the characters of the previous novel are briefly woven into this story but knowledge of them is not important to the following of the story line. “I lost everything and found God. But it wasn’t until you (Paul) came into my life and told me the Truth that I found peace.” Early in the novel Lydia faces some extreme tragedies and then finds the God of the Old Testament through a Jewish friend. But it is not until much later that she finds Christ through his messenger Paul. I wish I could give this book more than 5 starts as it was just so wonderful! I received it from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
I really enjoyed this one. One thing I love about Tessa Afshar is that she chooses characters to write about that aren't really talked about or written about. I don't think much thought is given to Lydia, a seller of purple briefly mentioned in the Bible as one of Paul's friends, so I really enjoyed this story and getting to envision her life. Lydia helps her father, a renowned seller of purple. When they are betrayed, Lydia has no choice but to flee to Philippi, the only place in the empire where a woman can run her own business. I liked Lydia. Her being "fearful" is I think what we would today think of as anxiety, so it was nice to see that represented in an era where it really isn't talked about. She was just trying to do the best she could in a world that didn't afford her many opportunities. She worked hard, and I think she was a great character. This book spans over 20 years, which I thought was refreshing. It wasn't just a story about a young girl, it shows her life, shows her as a middle-aged woman. It also wasn't a romance, although there is a slight bit there at the end, which was nice. This was probably my favorite Tessa Afshar book to date. I loved the world she has crafted, the characters, and this story. It was a beautiful book that captivated me from the start.
Bread of Angels tells the story of Lydia during the Biblical times. She is the loving daughter to her father, living in the house that has been in her family for generations, and enjoys making dye. Tragedy strikes and she has no choice but to run to her friend Philippi for help. She learns to make it on her own as a woman and with much determination, she becomes a prominent merchant in the city. Having doubts about the past, she is still scared. It all changes when she meets Apostle Paul. He teaches her the message of hope, faith, and love. Will this new message help her get over the past secrets and heartache? Bread of Angels is one of the best Biblical Fiction novel I have read to date. The historical details and vision of the author is so vivid, I felt like I was right there living beside Lydia. Just a beautiful, well written story. A must read! I definitely recommend this book! 5 plus stars I received this book from the author, but was not required to write a review. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
In Acts chapter 16, we have the apostle Paul meeting a woman by the name of Lydia who is a seller of purple and she becomes a Christian. Author Tessa Afshar has taken Lydia and given her more of a backstory then we know, although fictional it was still a very engrossing tale. How did Lydia become who she was and where she was in the Roman world that was run by men and become such a business woman in a time that was cruel and hard for a woman to make a name for herself? We meet Lydia when she is just 17 years old living in Thyatira with her merchant father who has created his own recipe for the often sought after purple coloring in clothing. She has a very kind father who loves her very much, but Lydia is a very cautious young woman with a great enemy, fear, that seems to be just hidden in the shadows. The author really highlighted how this controlling fear can affect every part of your life; it keeps you just out of reach of your potential, robs you of sleep at night, and no matter how hard you have tried to prepare for it, it will sneak in and rob you of your peace of mind. I really took the message and illustrations of this fear to heart as how often have I lost sleep over fear instead of praying about it. This was the first novel I have read by author Tessa Afshar and it was a very quick read for me. The title of the story I had not actually read before in the scriptures and by the conclusion of this story, Bread of Angels just clicked for me. I am thankful for author’s and their imaginations when they can make a small ordinary person from history stand out and have me thinking about Bible verses in a whole new perspective. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to post a positive review and all the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Bread of Angels melts in your mouth. This is the fictional story about Lydia mentioned in Acts 16. Once again Afshar's biblical knowledge breathes life into a person from the Bible. I gobbled up the book and felt completely satisfied upon finishing the book. If you love Biblical fiction with a touch of romance this book is a must read. In a world dominated by men, Lydia learns the trade of dying material to the precious purple that people demand. She learns this craft from her father. She is wise enough to keep the important secrets of the beautiful dye to herself. This saves her when a betrayal makes it necessary for her to leave her home. Lydia makes her way to Philippi, where she once again establishes herself as a preeminent dyer of purple. Afshar always touches on some struggle in life that we all have. This book deals with fear and how it can immobilize a person. Lydia had many things to fear, and yet through her encounter with Paul she learns to bring her fears down to a manageable size. These lessons that Lydia learns are things that I take with me and reflect on in my own life. I love the little lessons that are woven throughout the book that resonate in my own life. Thank you for the lesson of the tree and the legend of the patient stone. They will stick with me for many years to come. My thanks to Netgalley and Tyndale House Publishers for the e-copy of the book to read and review.
This is the second novel I've read by this author. She truly does a remarkable job in bringing Bible characters to life. Biblical fiction isn't the easiest to write, but this book was hard to put down. It isn't a fairy tale, or a book where all is sunshine and roses. I like books that show the difficulties in life and how one overcomes them. This one is the story of Lydia, the seller of purple. I actually dressed as her in a church activity many years ago. Much freedom had to be taken as not much is said of her. Several Biblical characters make an appearance as well as a special appearance at the end. The story is well written. The characters were very well done in this read, setting well explained, and the reader truly feels a part of the story. This book has a place on my forever shelves. "My point is that the work of Christ casts its shadow on your life whether you receive a miracle or not. He may give you forbearance instead of a miracle. Or peace in the midst of turmoil." I received this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.
I don't have many "I'll read any novel with his/her name on it" authors, but this author is one of those for me. I got what I was expecting here: a rich and touching story, delving deeply into the life of the heroine in a historical/biblical setting. While this book is certainly a standalone, if anyone may be interested in or plans on reading the novel Land of Silence by Afshar sometime, I'd recommend reading it before this one, for possibly spoiler-ish reasons. Now, I'll admit I enjoyed the first two-thirds or so of this novel more than the final parts. Recognizing Lydia from the Bible, I knew the renowned apostle Paul would be a part of this story. But I've seen it before in a different book by another author too, when Paul's presence onstage practically nudges the main character into more of a minor role while Paul is there. Lydia seems to fade somewhat with the incoming of new characters in the later scenes, and as the story stalls a bit in the midst of their increasing Scripture and faith discussions, it felt for a while like I was reading a different book than the one I'd started. It also appears the story runs out of time for some major events and rushes to tie them up with a few short summaries in the last chapter. Still, I'd gladly recommend this novel to fellow readers of Biblical Fiction, and I'm keeping my eyes open for more from this author. _________________ Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.