Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Return to Exile

Return to Exile
By Lynne Gentry
The Carthage Chronicles, #2
Howard Books, 2015


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 spell-binding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.

My thoughts

Sometimes a story will resonate and even make me uncomfortable because of the way it challenges my faith - and that is exactly what The Carthage Chronicles series does. Although I'm not a fan of time travel or third-century Rome, these stories rise above genre and setting with their entertaining narrative, rich characterization, suspense, timeless romance, and spiritual impact. So glad I stepped beyond my reading "comfort zone" to experience this series!

Return to Exile, which begins six years after Healer of Carthage, finds Lisbeth returning to third-century Carthage in an effort to reunite her family and change history. It can technically stand alone, but I would highly recommend reading the series in order for a deeper understanding of characters and events.

Cyprian is a strong, appealing character, and the crisis of faith he experiences in this story is inspiring. Prior to his exile, he had been a man of ambition, wealth, comfortable in his political status, and new to the faith. Now that is all changed and we find Cyprian "a broken and tired man who questioned the validity of a faith that required so much suffering in addition to the weighty sacrifice he'd already made."

Lisbeth, believing she was sent back in time for a reason, tries to take matters in her own hands and affect future events through her actions in the past. It's hard for me to understand the time travel concept, but this makes for a fascinating vehicle with which to explore a world I've only studied about in history. I love how Lisbeth's spiritual growth is shown in this quote:  "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."


"Treating the poor with the same respect due the wealthy
smacks of Christianity."
- Aspasius

Return to Exile's spiritual themes are what make it so challenging and relevant for believers today . . . Themes such as how we treat those who would do us harm, standing firm in our faith vs. compromise, and that suffering for Christ is a privilege. These words of Cyprian travel across time and touch us today:  "Since when is pleasing Romans more important than pleasing the one God?"

I'm thankful for the freedom to worship that we have today, although I sense a gradual eroding of that freedom. And at the same time, the faith of my Christian brothers and sisters around the world is being put to the test in similar ways to what these third-century Christians in Carthage faced. Return to Exile provides many opportunities to pause and reflect, and I'm glad Lynne is able to use fiction in such a moving way.

I highly recommend Return to Exile, as well as the whole Carthage Chronicles is a series. You can see my review of the first book, Healer of Carthage, by clicking on the title. I can't begin to imagine how Lynne will conclude this moving saga - but I'm sure that while it may be heartbreaking at times, it will also be victorious. Valley of Decision, the final book in this series, will be released later this year.

Lynne Gentry

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.

Find Lynne online at lynnegentry.com, Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit Lynne's Litfuse Blog Tour page.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Howard Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. I did read the first book in this series and because of the ending didn't enjoy it as much as you did. I am so glad that the family will find each other again, even though it won't be a seamless rejoining. It's always an unknown in a time travel story, whether or not a romantic couple will get to stay together. This one will go on my wish list. Kim