December 12, 2017

Review: The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

I am SO excited to be a part of this blog tour today! Because this story is truly something special. Very different from anything I've ever read before and I can't wait to introduce you to these lovely characters! So let's get to it, shall we? :)

Wow. What can I say about this story? I had previously read Ms. Monzon's Finders Keepers last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this story blew that one out of the water! The synopsis initially intrigued me, I mean a story based around the book of Esther with the main character ending up marrying a Sheikh? What a fascinating idea, right? Kudos to Ms. Monzon for thinking it up and clearly doing tons of research! Her attention to detail is very well done, I could easily feel the sand blowing and the stifling weather all due to her excellent world-building.

But it's not the world-building that truly gripped my attention. It was Hannah and Karim. And the way the tension grew whenever they were together. Or even apart, since they couldn't seem to stop thinking of each other! The chemistry between the two is solid and swoonworthy, let me just say. ;) Yet they are from two completely different worlds, so they certainly do not have an easy time of it. I rather enjoyed that Ms. Monzon touches just enough on the harshness of the environment and the culture they are living in to make clear that lives were in peril, yet every bleak moment is constantly surrounded with tinges of hope. That hope is so gently interwoven throughout each chapter and is what keeps Hannah, herself, able to continue going down this difficult path she chose. Of course, having someone like Karim around to sweep a girl off her feet helped quite a bit as well! ;)

Watching the selfless giving of Hannah and her parents in the midst of such a culture was inspiring. It takes complete giving up of self in order to serve in that sort of setting and I liked that Hannah and her parents had a few flaws and a few times they made mistakes. It made them feel less like paragons of virtue and more real. That's what captured my attention the most, I think, the fact that the story feels so very life-like. As if such a circumstance could actually happen. Each of these characters do not seem merely made up, there is life and breath inside them and we get the privilege of journeying right along beside them.

I was thoroughly captivated by this beautifully written story! I kept getting interrupted while reading and it was all I could do not to snap at the one hindering me from finding out how things would resolve! :D I sighed happily once I closed the final page, yet still sad that it had to end. I could've spent lots more time with these characters! Read it, friends. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

**I received a complementary copy from the author via Singing Librarian Books. All opinions expressed are my own.

The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.

As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?

Old Testament history meets Twenty-first Century tensions in this compassionate, tender inspirational romance.

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings. Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.


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