My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source; Received from Bethany House to Review
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance
Book Description: Valiant Hearts: Where Adventure and Romance Meet
Inspired by the vision of the Young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She gladly gives herself to the cause, as she's haunted by a tragic mistake and no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring.
Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church, but dreams of protecting the innocent as a knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of young adolescents. When they face political machinations, danger, and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.
My thoughts: I highly recommend reading Dina L. Sleiman's Valiant Hearts trilogy. Each book is set during the medieval time period with complex characters making hard choices. The books have aspects that bring to mind heroes from legends, like Robin Hood. This book has a character who is a young lady who has visions from God. She reminds me of Joan of Arc.
This book is set during the Crusades. Honestly, the Crusades are a point in history that bother me. It is easy to look back on history and not agree with what our fore-bearers did. This book gave me a different perspective and a little bit of appreciation for the religious fervor that sparked the Crusades. The issues are complex and Sleiman presented them in a way that helped me understand the reasons why the Catholic Church went to war for the Holy Land. I appreciated the Muslim perspective as well. Both sides were represented respectfully.
The story is told from four perspectives: Randel, Rosalind, Sapphira, and the villain. It took me a while to figure out who the villain in the story was. There were several people who seemed to stand out and have the anger that I expected. I didn't figure it out until about 3/4 of the book, just before it was revealed.
The book also talks about forgiveness. Forgiveness from God and forgiving yourself. Many people in this story make mistakes. I loved how freely forgiveness was given and love was granted. It is a reminder not to be so hard on ourselves and the love that the Father has for his children.
The romance is sweet and clean. The book has war violence, innuendo, and kissing.
About the Author:(Taken from Goodreads) Award-winning author, Dina Sleiman, writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards, and her cross-over YA novel, Dauntless, won the 2016 Carol Award. Also look for her books, Love in Three-Quarter Time, Dance from Deep Within, and the rest of her Valiant Hearts series with Bethany House Publishers. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well, and she loves to represent them at writers conferences throughout the US. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/
Check out the first two books in the series.