How far would you go to save the ones you love?
Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.
Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.
Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spellbinding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.
About the Author
Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.
Read an Excerpt
Return to Exile
THE SALTY BREEZE TASTED of chum left to rot in the African sun.
Cyprian tugged at his damp tunic. The coarse wool sanded his sun-burned flesh. Chapped skin was only one of many indignities he’d suffered since a Roman freighter dumped him in this dank little fishing village. Twelve long months of exile had given him ample time to consider how far removed he was from Carthage and his former life.
While his friend and fellow exile Pontius penned angry protests to Rome in the shade of the crude lean-to they’d constructed from scavenged deadfall and fishing nets, Cyprian paced the endless stretch of sand. To think, only a year ago Aspasius, the ruler of Carthage, had reclined at Cyprian’s wedding table. The heavy-jawed proconsul had sipped imported wines, debated the merits of slum renewal, and plotted treachery behind Cyprian’s back.
How smug the foul proconsul would be if he could see the solicitor of Carthage now. A flea-bitten pleb. Forced to live in conditions far worse than those of the city’s poorest tenement dweller. Disgraced. Banished from friends. Separated from his new bride.
Jade swells tumbled ashore, gobbling up large chunks of beach the way Aspasius devoured anyone who got in his way. Cyprian waded in and scooped water into his cupped hands. His eyes and face stung with the splash of salt. What had become of his wife? The worry was eating him alive.
Lisbeth had proven his equal. Smart as he in every way and far brighter when it came to healing. But did she have the cunning required to free herself from Aspasius? The thought of Aspasius dragging her into his lair haunted his dreams and drove his plans to escape.
Come spring a ship would sail into the harbor, and when it did, he intended to slip aboard, return to Carthage, and rescue his wife from the clutches of Aspasius Paternus.
“That’s enough for today, Pontius.” Cyprian rolled the papyrus his resourceful secretary had woven from reedy dune grasses. “We’d better work on catching our supper.”
“I’m determined to finish your petition, along with your response to the note from Felicissimus, before the next freighter comes.” Pontius dragged a whittled stick through the soot of last night’s cooking fire, a poor substitute for the expensive octopus ink turning rancid in the gold-trimmed ram’s horn in Cyprian’s old office. “Rome will not survive if it continues to allow injustice in its provinces.”
“We haven’t seen a ship port in this rat’s hole for months.”
“Today could be the day of our salvation.”
“I pray you are right.” Cyprian scanned the empty horizon. “Last night, my dreams once again revisited Carthage. Lisbeth stood on the proconsul’s balcony, crying my name, but before I could get to her . . . I awoke to the truth that Aspasius now rapes my wife.”
“A wrong your appeal will right.” Pontius took the scroll.
Cyprian clasped Pontius’s bronzed and sturdy shoulder. “Friend, even if I am released, I’ll need help to rescue my wife, and there is only one way to squelch the ugly rumor floating around Carthage that I hide in Curubis out of fear. Find the man who told Aspasius where my wife would be that day the soldiers took her and Ruth. Find him, and expose what he’s done, why we’re stuck on this godforsaken beach.”
His thoughts returned to his argument with Lisbeth, a moment in time he remembered with absolute clarity.
“I’m not about to let Aspasius keep me from doing my job. I need those supplies,” she had argued.
“Let me or Barek run your errand.”
“You’re still convalescing. And Barek wouldn’t know a eucalyptus leaf from a mustard seed.”
“At least take Barek with you.”
“If it will help you sleep better.”
“No heroics. Promise.”
“Straight to the herbalist and back. I promise.”
Cyprian rubbed the throbbing scar on his upper arm. He’d let a little injury hinder his judgment that day. And his weakness had changed all of their lives.
Could he have stopped her? Doubtful.
They’d only been married a few weeks, but the one thing he knew for certain about his wife . . . nothing altered her path. Once Lisbeth set her jaw she would not be deterred. Perhaps women from her time counted bullheaded determination as admirable, but failing to heed wise counsel was a dangerous gamble in the world of Roman Carthage.
Would the ludicrous idea that his wife came from another time and place always leave him so unsettled? Months of having nothing to do but contemplate the impossibility of falling in love with a woman from the future had brought him no closer to understanding his destiny. No closer to how or why their different paths had crossed. Or why he’d failed to make the most of such a miraculous blessing.
Although his regrets included the years he’d wasted serving pagan gods, failing to keep his wife from harm topped his shame. She hadn’t fully understood his sacrifice. He’d seen in her eyes the possibility she’d even hated him for the choice he’d made that day to stand firm rather than deny his faith, to give up the power and standing that would have kept him from exile and her from Aspasius’s grip.
“Who could have tipped the proconsul to Lisbeth’s plans?” Pontius’s question tugged him from the horrors of that day.
“I don’t know, but I intend to find out.”
“I would be no friend to you or our dearly departed bishop if I didn’t remind you that vengeance belongs to the Lord and—” Pontius abandoned his preaching in midsentence and charged past him. “Look! A scarlet topsail.” He directed Cyprian’s gaze seaward. In the distance a tiny blood spot smudged the cerulean horizon. “Who would dare travel the seas this time of year?”
“Someone with no choice.”
Without another word, Cyprian and Pontius snatched up their letters and raced toward the imperial frigate drifting into the lagoon. Water lapped the dock’s warped planks beneath Cyprian’s bare feet. Word of an approaching ship spread quickly among the villagers. Soon a host of neglected savages pushed them toward the water. Every man rank with the odors of outdoor living and desperate for a crock of wine and a few handfuls of grain.
The teakwood ship creaked into the substandard quay. The boat’s lofty goosenecked stern, decorated with an intricate carving of the bearded face of Neptune, blocked the sun. In the shadow of the fierce-eyed god, Cyprian muscled to the front of the crowd, anxious for the advantage of being recognized for the powerful man he was . . . used to be.
“Stand back.” The port’s lone stevedore pressed the crowd from the gangplank landing.
Upturned faces, every one of them as scraggly and sunken-cheeked as Cyprian’s, searched the ship’s deck. Instead of the usual hustle of a crew eager to make landfall, not a soul stirred onboard. Murmurs rippled through the crowd. What was taking so long? Why weren’t the slaves lowering the gangplank? Where was the security detail that accompanied every vessel commissioned for Rome’s service? An eerie quiet settled over the dock.
A heavy rope sailed over the ship’s railing. The crowd cheered and swelled forward. Cyprian grabbed a pylon to steady himself against the surge of filthy bodies. The grating slide of iron bolts signaled the release of the gangplank. Before all could get clear, the bridge crashed upon the dock, forcing some to dive into the water or be crushed. A ragged boy appeared at the ship’s opening. He planted his red-speckled legs and raised a sword twice the size of his scrawny body to block the entrance.
“Unclean!” he shouted. “We carry plague. We’ve only ported to rid ourselves of the dying.”
Howls of horror erupted. Men pushed and shoved in the opposite direction.
Cyprian caught sight of a Roman captain’s crested helmet near the bow. Desperate for news as the others were to escape possible contamination, he knew what he had to do. Cyprian pushed through panicked men, forcing his way along the dock until he reached the front of the ship. He cupped his hands to his lips. “Captain!”
A square-shouldered man came to the railing. Several days’ growth on his chin made him appear uncharacteristically disheveled and unkempt for a Roman officer. He did, however, still possess that unmistakable air of Roman authority.
Cyprian shouted, “Any correspondence for Cyprianus Thascius, solicitor of Carthage?” Unsure if he’d been heard over the thundering retreat of frightened men, he shouted his question again.
When the captain spotted Cyprian a scowl wrinkled his brow. “What if there was?”
“Even exiles are entitled to send and receive mail,” Cyprian demanded in his most forceful barrister voice. The voice that had once bellowed with power in the imperial courts. The voice he had once used to instill fear in his adversaries. The voice he barely recognized anymore. “If you refuse to hand it over, I shall appeal this abhorrent treatment to Decius.”
“Not if he’s dead.”
“Dead?” The word rang with a hope almost impossible to believe. A new emperor on the throne could possibly end the persecution that had sent him into the abyss. “When? How?”
“Killed in battle against the Goths. Nearly a year ago.” The captain stooped, retrieved a bag, and threw it at Cyprian’s feet. “Traitors! The lot of you. Unfit to live on Roman soil.”
“He’s got food!” one of the retreating exiles shouted. The others quickly forsook their fear of disease and swarmed in Cyprian’s direction.
“Pontius! Run!” Cyprian grabbed the bag and leaped from the dock. His bare feet hit the sand hard. Pontius landed right behind him.
Legs pumping, they scrambled down the beach, cutting through the dune scrubs, sand flying. They sped toward the marshes and plunged into knee-deep water. Cyprian tossed the mail sack over his shoulder and sloshed after Pontius. Deeper and deeper they trudged into the shadows of the cypress trees. A startled marsh bird took flight, signaling their location to the ensuing mob.
“This way.” Pontius ducked behind a large root, and Cyprian followed. Backs to the smooth bark, they panted. Listening. Nothing but the sound of their own hearts thundering in their ears.
“Think we lost them?” Pontius whispered several minutes after the sounds of wildlife returned.
“Not for long.” Cyprian held the bag tight. “Powers of action always equal a man’s desires. The outcast hunger for news as much as food.” He slowly peeked around the tree. “Keep a sharp eye out, Pontius.” He tore through the mail sack.
“What are you looking for?”
“Proof that Aspasius has lost Rome’s backing.”
Pontius checked for pursuers. “Would a new emperor be more sympathetic to our plight?”
“If there is any justice in this life.”
At the bottom of the mailbag, Cyprian found a small parchment addressed to him, folded and sealed with wax. “It’s from Ruth.”
“What does she say?”
Cyprian broke the seal and began reading the scratchings from Ruth’s hurried hand. “Plague. Persecution. Struggles to keep both the hospital and the church going.” He scanned the rest of the letter. “Valerian is the new emperor and”—he couldn’t believe what he was reading—“and rumor has it that the proconsul has been ordered to summon us home.”
“Yes!” Pontius pumped his fist. “God has not forgotten us.” He wrapped Cyprian in a bear hug, then pulled away when Cyprian failed to embrace him. “Why are you not pleased, my lord?”
“If Aspasius is still in power, our return will not be without challenge. He will dispatch an escort to see us safely delivered to his court.” Cyprian folded the letter. “Mark my words, no matter what I do, that eel will still find a way to see me martyred in the arena.”
Pontius swallowed. “And Lisbeth? What news does Ruth give of your wife?”
Cyprian read the widow’s words one more time, praying he’d missed something in his haste the first time through, then shook his head. “Not one word.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There are some disadvantages to reading series. I guess for me is that it is often so long between books, that you have to reread the first or hope that the author provides enough insight at the beginning of the second or third books to help you remember where you left off. Another is how they end. I personally hate cliff hanger endings, but as a writer myself, I know that is just how I would leave each book in the series. Kinda like the television or movie series we see. It makes you disappointed at first, but then hungry for more. You just have to come back to see how it all turns out. If you love time travel, romance or historical fiction, or like me, a bit of all three, you will want to pick up The Carthage Chronicles from best-selling author Lynne Gentry. Her first novel in the series, Healer of Carthage is about a 21st century doctor whose father has a love for archaeology. Couple that with a bit of mysterious paintings in a cave in Egypt, known simply as the Cave of Swimmers. Dr. Lisbeth Hastings lost her mother in the Cave of Swimmers and never knew what happened to her until she herself fell into the watery cavern. Turns out it transports people back into the third century in Rome, not the place you'd want to be as a woman. In Return to Exile, we pick the series back up after Lisbeth had returned back to the 21st century at the conclusion of the first novel, in love with a man she left behind as her husband. In order to protect her, she was thrown back into the cistern which took her back to present time, where she learned she was pregnant with Cyprian's child. Knowing her daughter is extremely claustrophobic, she knows taking her daughter Maggie back in time, won't be easy. Her father insists on accompanying her to see the wife he thought died so long ago. Turns out she has become infamous for her healing abilities and remains the slave/wife to a cruel dictator named Aspasius, whose goal is to control all the Christians still dwelling in the providence. He has successfully exiled Cyprian and during Lisbeth's escape, her mother managed to flee into the hills where she remains hidden trying to control the spread of measels which is becoming a pandemic of epic portions. Just as Lisbeth realizes she can't take her daughter with her in time, Maggie jumps into her arms at the last moment, just as the watery portal takes them both back to Rome. Her father didn't have the chance to make it. This time when Lisbeth returns to Rome armed with medical supplies to help her mother control the diseases killing the poor, she learns the despite keeping her heart open to loving Cyprian again and sharing the joy of his first child with him, she learns he didn't believe she was coming back and has married her best friend Ruth. Does Lisbeth stay or will she take Maggie and head back to the life she left behind in Dallas? You'll have to pick this one up to find out. I received Return to Exile by Lynne Gentry compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own personal opinion. I was so thrilled to see what the outcome would be for Lisbeth and Cyprian and was not prepared for what Lisbeth had to face heading back to Rome. I felt so sorry for her and completely understood how difficult things would be on both ends. I am super excited to see what the outcome will be when the next novel comes out Valley of Decision, and be warned this one does leave you with a bit of a cliff hanger ending but also a sneak peek into the next novel to help calm your nerves a bit. For me, I LOVE this series and this one rates a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. A Reader Discussion Guide is included as well as a Q and A with the author at the conclusion of this novel.
Lynne Gentry in her new book, “Return To Exile” Book Two in The Carthage Chronicles series published by Howard Books continues the story of Dr. Lisbeth Hastings. From the back cover: How far would you go to save the ones you love? Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep. Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save. Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spellbinding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles. Lynne Gentry has given us one of the most imaginative and clever series that I have encountered. Historical fiction and time travel. Two elements that if not handled correctly can spell doom for the reader. Have no fear Ms. Gentry is an expert crafts-person and puts them together perfectly. “Return To Exile” is a great ride! Like a great play this is the second act and all second acts are a bit dark and end with a cliffhanger. Lisbeth has gone back in time again with Maggie, Lisbeth’s and Cyprian’s daughter. There is all kinds of danger, the church is in chaos, Cyprian is in danger and to protect himself he may marry someone he doesn’t love and there is typhoid. Ms. Gentry has given us an action adventure tale that will get your nerves all jangled as you read furiously trying to keep up with the story. And there is the romance. Plus this is a thriller that just drips with suspense so be prepared. I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed in reading this book. The characters are marvelous and they live and breathe on these pages. I am glad I found this wonderful author and I am so looking forward to book three! 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.”
I COULD NOT wait for this book to come out. The first book in this series left me wanting MORE! I love that there are 2 e-shorts to give you insight into some of the other characters as well. On to Return to Exile. It's safe to say that I read this book in less than 24 hours. I couldn't put it down. While the first book was fast paced and had me turning the pages to see if my favorite characters were safe, this one delves much deeper into the emotional trama my favorite characters are going through. I loved the added depth to those characters. Lynne Gentry writes about each character so well that it's hard for me to pick a favorite. In one chapter, I am cheering for Lisbeth and my heart is breaking for Ruth. Then in the next chapter, it is reveresed. I love being able to identify with these strong, Christian women. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the time travel aspect, because I'm kind of obsessed with history. Do yourself a favor and buy this book, and the first book in this triology...AND the e-shorts. Fall in love with these characters as I have. You won't regret it!!
I was attracted to this book because... I have read the first book in The Carthage Chronicles, Healer of Carthage, and I wanted to know what happened to the characters. I am intrigued by the concept of time travel and how it fits into this story. After last year’s ebola crises, I’m drawn to similar events. This book was about After 6 years of making a home for her daughter, Maggie and father in present day Dallas, Texas, doors open to allow DR. Lisbeth Hastings the opportunity to return to third century Rome, where her mother and her husband, the father of Maggie are struggling to keep the church and the Christians alive amidst measles and the Roman empire. While Lisbeth thought of this journey everyday, it was one she never thought she would be able to make. Her father had been a part from her mother for an even longer period and he longs to be reunited with her as well. And everyday as Maggie grows older she desires more and more to know her father. When reunited her splintered family, healing much family pain and oh, by the way rid the world of measles for all time in the third century. She finds more pain than she can imagine in her time travel adventure. But most of all she learns what it means to come under the leadership of the Lord for the fulfillment of her family’s purpose. Things I liked about this book An interesting, fast-pace story that educates about life in the third century and how it is still important to us. Why you should read this book You should be reminded that regardless of the year and the circumstances of life, we all face the decisions of how we will follow God’s leaderships and what the costs are to be His obedient disciples. This book lived up to the back cover copy The story of Lisbeth and Cyprian do fill every page of Return to Exile. Even through we only get to see s sliver of their lives, a few days in reality, we are thrown deep into their story in their present time and it’s implications for the future.
Time-travel novels have held my attention since Mark Twain's, Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Without leaving the comfort of my home, I can experience different centuries, places, and cultures, which is why I was pleased to have the opportunity to read Return to Exile, by Lynne Gentry. After reading the back cover blurb, I wondered how twenty-first century single mom and busy epidemiologist, Dr. Lisbeth Hastings, would interact with people from the third century. My interest grew when I discovered the father of Lisbeth's daughter was Cyprian Thacius, a third century politician who returns to Carthage after being exiled for his faith, and that Lisbeth returns during the time when measles and typhoid epidemics are decimating the population. I wondered how successful she would be at saving those who suffered, and if she would be in time to prevent Cyprian's death. When Lisbeth's five year old daughter, Maggie, gets sick with typhoid, I wondered who she would choose to save¿Cyprian or Maggie, and what the consequences would be for the choices she made. The plot is rich with interesting characters who face almost insurmountable problems in a violent world ruled by Rome. I look forward to finding out what happens to the characters in the last book of the trilogy, Valley of Decisions.
I don't like time-travel storylines, really I don't. But last year I read Healer of Carthage and was completely drawn into the story. When Return to Exile came out I knew I had to read it just to find out what happened next. For the first few chapters I was enthralled. Lisbeth is in Dallas during the current year. She is now a practicing epidemiologist and finds herself in the midst of a very serious outbreak. She's busy with her work and raising her daughter but she continues to think about those she left behind in Carthage. Cyprian, Lisbeth's husband, is still in the past living in exile. He eventually makes his way back to Carthage only to find the city devastated by a plague. His mother-in-law Magdalena and Lisbeth's friend Ruth have set up a makeshift hospital to care for the sick and dying in his home. Members of the church have come alongside to help them. The angst and tension between the two different worlds is great. I found myself quickly flipping pages just to see where the story was going. Eventually the characters are reunited in Carthage. That's when my interest hit a snag. I hate to say it but I just don't like Cyprian. In the first book I did, but now, not so much! To cut him a little slack I will say that there were some other people that added to my discontent with him, but ultimately it was him. Don't get me wrong, the writing is still superb. Lynne is masterful at giving detailed descriptions of the events without boring you to death. The funny part is that at some point I even forgot that I was reading a dreaded time travel book. The storyline just kept me riveted and I found myself believing the plausibility of the tale. This book is part of a three part series. There was a cliff-hanger ending with the first and there is another cliff-hanger ending with this second book. Will I be reading the third book when it comes out? You bet! I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
A bit of time travel combined with a fictional tale based on actual historical facts is what the reader finds when she opens the pages of first “The Healer of Carthage” and now the greatly anticipated second volume of The Carthage Chronicles, “Return to Exile. A love story that spans the centuries, “Return to Exile” paints a graphic picture of the dangers faced by the early Christians in Roman Carthage. Surrounded on every side by deadly epidemics, power-seeking politicians, or disgruntled traitors, daily existence is a trial that takes nearly superhuman effort just to survive. Yet knowing the dangers, Dr. Lisbeth Hastings makes the choice to return, hoping her modern medical knowledge can make a difference in history. Lynne Gentry has written a compelling novel that is at times difficult to read but equally difficult to put down. This story has it all – time travel, romance, danger, intrigue, a few surprises, and historical facts that are interwoven with a story of a faith to die for and characters willing to lay down their own lives for others. “Healer of Carthage” and now “Return to Exile” each have cliffhanger endings that leave the reader craving the next installment. Lovers of Biblical fiction, this series is not to be missed. I am quite certain others will love it also. A copy of this book was provided for review by the author in exchange for my honest review.
Lynne Gentry has penned another must read story in The Carthage Chronicles! Once again, she deftly weaves past and present together in an extraordinary story! From the moment I turned the last page of Healer of Carthage, I was anxious to read Return to Exile. This pulse-pounding adventure swept me away and I’m still trying to catch my breath! Full of twists, turns, and surprises, Return to Exile kept me on the edge of my seat and left me begging for more! Don’t miss this fantastic series! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own and no monetary compensation was received.
Return to Exile is the second installment of the time traveling the Carthage Chronicles series by Lynn Gentry. It starts off five years after the last book left off. Lisbeth is working as a doctor and living with her father and her five-year-old daughter Maggie. Maggie desperately wants to meet her father, who is Cyprian and lives thousand years in the past. When Lisbeth finds disturbing news about Cyprian fate, she decides she has to go back in time to save him. When she goes, she find herself in a predicament when she is followed by someone she knows. After dealing with this shock, she deals with another when she finds Cyprian. How will she take this bit of news? I really like this book. Lisbeth endure so much when she goes back in time this time. This is definitely a page turner. I am loving the series and cannot wait to read the third installment. Great book! Five stars. I received this book for free from Howard Books in exchange for my honest opinion, which is given.
This was another great read from Lynne in the Carthage Chronicles. I'm not really into any kind of medical issues, but I was so fascinated with the medical side of things in this one. Amazing what Lisbeth and her Mom did for people in third-century Carthage (well even in today Dallas too). One thing I was surprised by concerning this novel was the emotional turmoil. I didn't expect some of the decisions that characters made and the effects of those decisions on others. Maggie was by far one of my favorite characters! I love her attitude and her bravery (even if she thinks she's not)! Ruth is a quick second as her faith and attitude was very inspiring. The message was great and one I needed to hear of how we can't let fear dictate our lives nor can we control everything. I am giving "Return to Exile" 4 stars because there were a few situations that irked me and felt a little bit repetitive from book one. Overall, another great read from Lynne that has me eagerly looking forward to the final novel in the series! *(I did receive this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.)*
Another 5 star book from Lynne Gentry! Return to Exile is the second book in Lynne Gentry’s The Carthage Chronicles. It continues the story of Lisbeth Hastings and Cyprian Thascius, six years after the first book left off. I loved the first book and had very high expectations for this one. I can happily say that it met them all! I was quickly drawn into the story and couldn’t put it down! As I have come to expect, Lynne did an excellent job with the historical and medical details, as well as the descriptions. She brings Carthage and third century Rome to life so vividly that I had trouble pulling myself away from it. I could picture it so clearly and often felt as though I was actually there. One of the things I love/hate most about this book and Lynne’s writing is the realism. If you’re looking for a feel good, happily ever after story, then I don’t recommend this book. It will challenge you, change the way you view things, and leave you thinking about it for days. It may also leave you wanting to pitch it against a wall after you read the last page. That’s pretty much a given with her books. She is one of the few authors that can evoke such an emotional reaction from me. I loved seeing how much Lisbeth and Cyprian have changed and grown since the last book. The changes weren’t always positive, but that’s true in life too, and I enjoyed following them through the pages of another book. Lisbeth Hastings has spent the last six years trying to move on with her life, while also feeling chained to something she can’t explain and doesn’t understand. She is still stubborn and very strong willed, maybe even more so now that she has a child to care for. She is also a bit impulsive, though she tends over thinks things after the fact. She definitely isn’t the stereotypical heroine and would not be mistaken for sweet or overly gentle, except with her daughter. She has built walls to protect herself from hurt and they have caused her to be a bit harsh in her view of the world and sometimes of others. Cyprian Thascius has returned from exile to find he isn’t the man he was before. His heart has hardened and his faith is on shaky ground. He is still strong and stubborn, which he needs to keep up with Lisbeth. The changes in him are more obvious than in Lisbeth. He used to be kind and gentle, but is now more apathetic than anything. When pushed to reach out to the Church he once loved, he questions if he’s the right man for the job. Counted a coward by many, he feels he has something to prove to Carthage, but more importantly, to himself. Their story started out a little slowly, as we catch up on the time between books, but it quickly picked up speed and kept me captivated until the end. I was a little surprised with how much I still hated Aspasius; I couldn’t even begin to feel sorry for him. But as the story proceeds, I found myself growing and learning along with Lisbeth and Cyprian, as they learn what it means to love their enemies and live as Jesus did. If you’re expecting a romance when you pick up this book, you may be a bit disappointed. While there is a touch of romantic tension here and there, it isn’t a central part of the story. There are so many other things going on that I believe it would have detracted from the story had Lynne incorporated more. Lisbeth and Cyprian find themselves remembering their past love for each other, but having not seen one another in years, and believing their love lost through time, they spend a decent amount of the book trying to rebuild the relationship they thought lost. I found myself very challenged with the spiritual side of the story. I’ve always heard that the Bible is a living book, always relevant throughout the years and that fact is clearly shown in this story. I was able to empathize with both Cyprian and Lisbeth’s struggles. Cyprian has lost his faith, his heart has hardened, and he can’t hear God. He tells Ruth at one point that he can hear nothing but the wind. In the meantime, Lisbeth has found faith, but still struggles with control and trying to make everything right. There is a quote that caught my attention, “All this time, she’d believed the reason for her travels into this harsh world a simple one: she was meant to rewrite history. But now she knew she’d been dropped into the middle of these struggles so the past could rewrite her.” - Lisbeth Hastings, page 343 There are many other quote-worthy moments, but that one snagged my attention and would not let go. It shows so clearly the change that occurs for Lisbeth and illustrates one of the main themes - even though we may not know God’s will or understand why, He always has a perfect plan. I do caution anyone who is sensitive to violence or medical descriptions, this may not be the book for you. While I loved how the Lynne’s writing drew me in, this book is set in third century Rome during a plague and religious persecution. There are mentions of executions, though not in detail, and detailed medical procedures. I very much enjoyed the many twists and turns throughout the book that left me stunned and trying to guess what might happen next. Lynne does a great job of building the suspense and giving the reader just enough information to have a general idea what would come next, without actually giving anything away. I also loved how each character had a very unique voice and stood apart from the rest when it changed to their point of view. I quickly knew who was speaking, before it said their name. I was sorry to say goodbye to the characters, though I know I will see many of them again in the next book. They become like family and I don’t want the books to end. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a suspenseful story that will challenge you and leave you begging the author for the next one. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own. *Quotation used with permission from the author. All rights reserved.