Redeeming Love

20 Aug

Redeeming Love

Francine Rivers

Publisher: Multnomah Books

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 479 pages, though I read the e-book. Don’t worry, this one’s safe, no typos.

Book Blurb:

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.  A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone, I love it when they know to stop. A great thing can sometimes be lessened when they try to squeeze more out of it. And I do believe this was a great thing.

Why I read this book: I was writing an essay on Christian fiction and I came to the section on genres. Now historical fiction is a HUGE genre in Christian fiction, but I had been turned off of it at a young age by one too many no-so-pathetic deaths in a book that shall remain nameless. However, that book and a couple I’d read prior were enough to turn me off the historical side of things. So when it came to the historical section I had little to write about and knew I needed at least one example. I’d heard a lot about this book. It was part of the women’s book club at multiple churches I’d been a member of and I figured there was a reason for that. In fact there is, with over a million copies sold this book stayed in the Christian best-seller list for a decade and the author has gone on to receive more acclaim. I figured, if I’m going to read historical Christian fiction I might as well read the best.

Review:

This book was hard to begin. The story starts when Angel, then Sarah, is a child. All through the 46 page prologue I cringed because I knew what was going to happen. Redeeming Love is the story of a prostitute’s path to redemption, and I did not want to see that happen to this sweet, innocent little girl. But happen it did. Then the story skips ahead ten years and her tragic fate is a bit easier to swallow when she’s a “grown-up”, though I hardly call eighteen an adult. What Angel has suffered is hard to swallow but everything changes when Micheal Hosea walks onto the scene.

Michael gets under her skin, but not in a good way. He’s unlike any other man she’s encountered and she hates that she can’t stuff him into a box with all the others. Their marriage is one of… well, I won’t give away how they end up there but they do. Michael loved Angel from the minute he saw her and pursues her at God’s urging, but it’s not easy. Angel fights him at every turn, she doesn’t trust men, she despises the thought of love and hates the God who did not come to her and her mother’s aid when they needed it the most.

Their courtship is a constant tug-of-war, a back and forth that doesn’t get tiring. In fact, it’s all the more beautiful for Michael’s relentless pursuit of Angel despite all the things that happen. Angel’s melting heart is fascinating to watch and their relationship is as hot as it is heartwarming. I’m often wary of men written by women in romances, I’ve run into one to many effeminate men with bulging muscles waxing poetic on the oceans found in a women’s eyes. It is not so with Michael Hosea, he strikes just the right note, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself falling for him long before Angel’s heart opens.

The story is incredibly engaging, and heartbreaking. But understanding the depths from which Angel comes, makes her transformation all the more satisfying. The story kept changing in ways I didn’t expect, adding new layers, new characters, new complications. And I’m not an easy person  to surprise. I would extraordinary story to any adult, and I do stress adult. The content is troubling at times and I believe that as time passes a reader will be able to appreciate the story better. I know in my teen years it would not have had the same impact. So read it! But be prepared, it’s not a light story, it’s also not one you can put down.

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