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Harvest of Gold: (Book 2) Paperback – July 1, 2013
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"Afshar has created a treasure of a book. Brilliant characterization, adventure, intrigue, and humor coupled with deep emotional impact garner a solid five stars.”
—Kris Wilson, CBA Retailers+Resources, July 13, 2013
"I believe this is the first book I have read which takes place during the time of Nehemiah. Having participated in a year long small group study covering this book of the Bible I was particularly interested in Harvest of Gold. And of course I was excited to read this book because Afshar has become my favorite biblical fiction novelist since the release of Pearl in the Sand. Combine this with a healthy dose of cover love and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book!
Afshar’s strong background in religious and historic studies shines through in her fiction. Her accurate use of historical detail and her gift in writing descriptions make her fiction come alive. Harvest of Gold is a beautiful exploration of the full meaning of marriage and its value as an example of God’s love for us. Also, the topic of spiritual warfare is explored in depth through the building of the wall and in the individual character’s lives.
I believe this book would provide valuable bibliotherapy for those dealing with a miscarriage or even for those dealing with marriage issues. I can’t wait for Afshar’s next release!"
—Julia Reffner, review posted on Net Galley, August 12, 2013
"I like reading historical fiction novels, but rarely do I read one set almost 2500 years ago. Harvest of Gold takes place in Persia and in Jerusalem during the rebuilding of its walls in 445 BC. Having studied Bible history, I am familiar with Nehemiah's story and was intrigued as to how the author would involve this Biblical character. Clearly, this is a well-researched story and pretty accurate regarding this time in history.
The story is essentially about Sarah, an intelligent Jewish scribe, recently married to Darius, a Persian aristocrat, and their journey as their marriage unravels. Set during the restoration of Jerusalem during Nehemiah's time, the author uses the timeless principles in the book of Nehemiah as both Sarah and Darius struggle with issues of duty and faith.
I was unaware that this book is the sequel to Harvest of Rubies, and only realized this as references were made to events from the first book that I was clueless about. I wished the author would have summarized some things that had taken place in the first book. Notwithstanding this, I still enjoyed this novel. It was refreshing because of the setting. The plot also included an attempt to murder King Artaxerxes. I liked the author's notes at the end of the novel that further explained historical details.
Sarah is a strong female character and Darius is handsome and physically strong. There is passion between the two of them, although sometimes their behaviour confused me. One minute they are in each other's arms and the next they are pulling away and there is distance. They end up being apart for most of the novel. Sometimes it felt like I was reading a contemporary romance. Also, their dialogue often used expressions that were definitely not used in the middle east before the common era, such as the word “sweetheart” which originated in the 13thcentury and is an English expression. Because of this, there were times when I wasn't totally immersed or transported to the time and place of the story.
Overall, this was a good story. I have the first book Harvest of Rubies on my Kindle, and will probably read it in the future when I'm in the mood for another different historical setting. It had so many rave reviews on Amazon. If you like Biblical historical fiction and romance, I suggest giving this one a try, but perhaps after reading the first book. It's clean with plenty of action."
-Laura Fabiana, reviewed on Net Galley, Augusut 23, 2013
After having a chance to settle into her role as the wife of a Persian nobleman, Sarah is again called back to the court she once served in as a scribe. Intending to go with her husband for just a short trip, they are soon caught up in a plot to uncover who is trying to overthrow the king. Sent on a double mission for Darius to uncover who is behind the plot and for Sarah to serve her cousin, Nehemiah, as a scribe, the couple find that their marriage is very much like the walls of Jerusalem. Built on distrust and coming from different religious backgrounds, they must learn to work together as more than just a partnership. Can Darius put behind the disappointments of court life in order to fully give his heart? Can Sarah learn to let her God work on her husband and herself?
I enjoyed the first book in this series and very much appreciated that this one had the same flavor as the first. The details are rich and it is quite easy to become attached to the characters, since Tessa Afshar makes the Old Testament come alive. Excellent!
- Amanda Holmes, reviewed on Net Galley, September 10, 2013
After reading Harvest of Rubies I just had to continue on with the story of Sarah and Darius in Harvest of Gold. Sarah & Darius seem to have it all, money & power, but not the love of her husband. This story is about their marriage, how they both have issues and need to overcome them to become the man and woman God would want them to be to each other. I enjoyed this novel very much and look forward to anything put out by Tessa Afshar. Rated: 5 out of 5 stars.
Dawn Cronk, reviewed on Net Galley, November 4, 2013
"Harvest of Gold is a great story. But it is more than that. The people come
alive on the pages and in their pain and struggle you will see yourself."
—Chris Fabry, award-winning author and radio personality
"Harvest of Gold is a compelling historical novel whose characters will dwell in your thoughts long after you close the book. Author Tessa Afshar has done a wonderful job with this story set in the days of Nehemiah, giving us a glimpse of what might have been. I could see ancient Jerusalem and Persia through her descriptions, and am richer in my knowledge of those times for having read this book. Don't miss it!"
—Jill Eileen Smith, best-selling author of the Wives of King David series.
"Engaging. Inspiring. Heart- stopping and heart- rending. Harvest of God takes readers on a journey from ancient Persia to the broken-down walls of Jerusalem, re-building our hope as Nehemiah’s story is woven through a complex plot with multi-layered characters we love and hate and then love some more. A fabulous biblical novel that sent me straight back to God’s Word!"
—Mesu Andrews, Award-winning author (winner of the ECPA Christian Book Award for New Author of the Year, 2012)
Praise for the first book in the series Harvest of Rubies
"Sarah is a Jew in ancient Persia, cousin of Nehemiah, and the daughter of the scribe Simeon, whose attention she wins only when she proves to possess literary abilities of her own. In this latest by Afshar (Pearl in the Sand), the Bible's ancient Near Eastern context is the setting for an engaging story of pluck, friendship, and faith. Sarah becomes a professional scribe and wins the affections of the queen only to find herself bound to marry a man she doesn't know and forced to give up the job that she loves. When she botches her wedding, and is abandoned to a rural estate, it would seem that all is lost. But Sarah finds wisdom and strength in the texts and traditions of her people, and knits together an unconventional community of support. Afshar's story challenges misconceptions about harem life and the roles of ancient women while introducing readers to a lovable heroine whose good heart wins out over bumbling ways to prove a boon to others, too. Agent: Wendy Lawton, Books and Such (May)"
–Publishers Weekly, 5/14/12
"In Harvest of Rubies, gifted author Tessa Afshar transports us to an ancient time where we find a heroine who feels like a contemporary friend. A scribe in the court of Persia, Sarah struggles with placing her value in what she does instead of who she is in God. Her faith journey strengthened mine and will inspire yours."
—Lauren Yarger, National Book Critics Circle
"I loved Harvest of Rubies! … Sarah is a wonderful character - always herself no matter what the situation. I loved the way she always said exactly what she thought. And Darius is terrific too - readers will adore him. A wonderful story with a totally captivating heroine. Readers won't be able to tear themselves away. "
–Joan Wolf, Author
Top customer reviews
I love reading books from this author! Her writing makes Scripture come alive!
If Harvest of Rubies is Sarah's book, then this one is Darius'. We get to know and understand him better. Honestly, he isn't a very likeable character, at first. He is hard, bitter, and I didn't care for how he treated Sarah. As I continued reading, I still had a hard time caring for him, though I did like him a little more. I finally fell in love with him about halfway through the book, when we start to understand what drives him.
Darius has a very high moral standard, so when Sarah doesn't tell him something important, he once again withdraws from her. I really wanted him to stand up and get it together, but that wasn't part of his character, yet. Even though I was rather apathetic toward him, I still enjoyed his journey. I was looking forward to seeing him redeemed and Ms. Afshar did an excellent job.
Sarah was her usual self; spunky, sassy, and bold. I still adored her and her heart. There was one point when I wanted to shake her, but that just made her more real to me. I have to really care about characters for them to frustrate me that much.
I believe the main spiritual themes of this book are forgiveness and surrender. Darius must learn both. He has spent most of his life refusing to feel or let others too close, but with Sarah in his life, breaking down his walls, he's struggling to maintain his distance. This alone makes him lash out at her when she makes a mistake. He lays all the blame at her feet and shuts down even further. He must learn to forgive, something that only truly works with the Father's help. He also must learn to surrender, which is a battle he fights through most of the book. I appreciated his struggle with both themes. Ms. Afshar doesn't try to gloss over either, but rather portrays both as the difficult issues they are.
Sarah must also learn to surrender, both to God and to Darius. She has been taking care of herself for so long, that she has a hard time trusting Darius to make decisions regarding her well-being. The same is true of her trust in God. When she faces a trial, she asks, "where are You, God?" as we all do at some time or another. She doesn't understand why God would allow the circumstance and she struggles to surrender to Him, to trust that He knows best.
I really enjoyed the secondary characters, Lysander, Roxanna, and Pari! While they really are secondary and we don't know them well, I fell in love with each of them. I wish Lysander and Roxanna would get their own book, but I believe Ms. Afshar plans to leave their story up to her readers' imaginations.
The descriptions were so vivid! I often felt as though I was actually there, traveling with them, or viewing the city of Jerusalem for the first time. Ms. Afshar really brings history to life in all of her books and this one is no exception! Her stories draw you in and refuse to let go until the end, even the occasional frustrating character can't take away from her masterful writing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction!
This book, as all others' of Afshar, is absolutely wonderful and inspiring, having reminded me that one should never give up hope, to always trust in God, to observe and analyze people before we judge them, since they might have reasons for their behaviour and attitude, and to help wherever we can. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read!!
I have been eagerly awaiting this release since I finished Harvest of Rubies last year! The continuing saga of Sarah and Darius has drawn me back several times, despite my [quite large] stack of "new" to be read books. I've read at least part of Rubies four or five times in the last year.
Gold picks up quite soon after Rubies ended. The mystery and intrigue with a backdrop of rebuilding Jerusalem were all quite interesting, but at the heart of it Gold continues the love story begun in Rubies.
My heart still ached for Sarah as she loved Darius but he was unwilling or unable to allow himself to truly love her back. Through their trials as they want to start a family. As he tries to decide if he can really trust her after that trust was thoroughly destroyed on their wedding day. As Darius struggles with his new post while trying to understand the people of his mother and his wife.
I devoured the preview ecopy I received and did not even contemplate canceling my preorder of the paper version. I have not had a chance to reread it yet, but you can bet I will.
Most of characters are fictional, but a few are not, including the prophet [and the cousin to fictional Sarah] Nehemiah. Most of it is filled with supposition and "fill-in-the-blanks" but those things are based on Tessa's meticulous research and are well-grounded.
I was both happy and sad to see the saga of Sarah and Darius come to an end, but I am very much looking forward to her next release based on the story of Ruth [I've been asking for SOMEONE to write this for several years now :D]. Sadly, it won't come out for a while.
In the meantime, I'll have to find time in my reading schedule to read Rubies and Gold again - back-to-back this time.
Overall rating: 9.25 out of 10 stars
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.