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Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

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1860-1890 – Illinois/Egypt

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Lydia, Woman of Philippi by Diana Wallis Taylor

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First Century – Macedonia

Smart, strong, and a follower of the Jewish God, Lydia has nonetheless always quietly conformed to the expectations of the wealthy Roman society surrounding her. Even though married off at fifteen to a man she dislikes, she is determined to be a faithful wife. But when her husband is killed some years later, Lydia vows never to remarry and returns to her father’s house in Thyatira with her twelve-year-old daughter. There, a new life begins to emerge.

As she is trained in the family dye business, Lydia’s shrewd management quickly creates profit, prestige—and envy. At odds with her jealous brother, who is a staunch Roman and can’t understand her obsession with the Jewish religion, Lydia finds herself yet again at the mercy of a patriarchal society. Will fleeing to Philippi be enough to protect herself and those under her care? Will she keep her vow to widowhood when a handsome Greek God-fearer turns out to be more than just an employee? And when she meets a strange man named Paul the apostle by the river one Sabbath day, will Lydia have the courage to once more let her life be dramatically changed—this time forever?

The Queen of Sheba by Jill Eileen Smith

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953 BC – Middle East

What questions did the Queen of Sheba come to ask King Solomon? Come explore her story with me as I look at the historical queen (two different versions of her tale) and try to determine a plausible story that imagines what might have been. Her experience and the outcome of her story might surprise you.

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Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

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1505 – Germany

In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows—a choice more practical than pious—but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther’s friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.

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All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick

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1860s-1880s – Oregon

Already well-versed in the natural healing properties of herbs and oils, Jennie Pickett longs to become a doctor. But the Oregon frontier of the 1870s doesn’t approve of such innovations as women attending medical school. To leave grief and guilt behind, as well as support herself and her challenging young son, Jennie cares for an elderly woman using skills she’s developed on her own. When her patient dies, Jennie discovers that her heart has become entangled with the woman’s widowed husband, a man many years her senior. Their unlikely romance may lead her to her ultimate goal–but the road will be winding and the way forward will not always be clear. Will Jennie find shelter in life’s storms? Will she discover where healing truly lives?

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The Queen’s Daughters by Lorry Lutz

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The Queen’s Daughtersqueensdaughters

1891 – England

Inspired by a dream, Dr. Kate Bushnell writes to Josephine Butler, famous crusader who frees women from sex slavery in Victorian England. Kate tells Mrs. Butler she is planning to travel to Great Britain. Though she she doesn’t have a cent for the journey from America, God provides, and months later Kate arrives in London.

Once there, Kate and her friend Bess are invited to tea with Mrs. Butler. “When I read of your experiences rescuing girls in the lumber camps in Wisconsin,” Mrs. Butler says, “I thought you might be able to help us in India. We need proof for Parliament that the military entices or buys girls for the brothels on the bases.”

Kate glances at Bess. She sees a streak of fear in her eyes.

Mrs. Butler goes on, “I warn you, you would have to enter as secretly as possible. General Roberts, the commander-in-chief, would make sure you’d never enter another base again.” She pats Kate’s hand as if to soften her words. “I’m afraid this will be one of the hardest assignments you’ve undertaken…”

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The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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The Return

1763 – Pennsylvania

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans, but then she never had to. Not until the night when she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. During her captivity, Betsy faces brutality and hardship, but also unexpected kindness. She draws strength from native Caleb, who encourages her to find God in all circumstances. She finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the intense new feelings this compelling man awakens within her.

Handsome and complex, Hans is greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity and turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. Eagerly, Tessa responds, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish, have things gone too far between Hans and Tessa?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

The Soldier who Killed a King by David Kitz

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The Soldier who Killed a King

30 – Israel

A stunning story of Holy Week through the eyes of a Roman centurion

Watch the triumphal entry of the donkey-riding king through the eyes of Marcus Longinus, the centurion charged with keeping the streets from erupting into open rebellion.

Look behind the scenes at the political plotting of King Herod, known as the scheming Fox for his ruthless shrewdness.

Get a front-row seat to the confrontation between the Jewish high priest Caiaphas and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

Understand as never before the horror of the decision to save a brutal terrorist in order to condemn the peaceful Jew to death.

If you’ve heard the story of Passion Week so often it’s become stale, now is the time to rediscover the terrible events leading from Jesus’s humble ride into the city to his crucifixion. The Soldier Who Killed a King will stun you afresh with how completely Christ’s resurrection changed history, one life at a time.

Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt

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Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra

50-40s BC – Rome

Five decades before the birth of Christ, Chava, daughter of the royal tutor, grows up with Urbi, a princess in Alexandria’s royal palace. When Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava vows to be a faithful friend no matter what–but after she and Cleopatra have an argument, she finds herself imprisoned and sold into slavery.

Torn from her family, her community, and her elevated place in Alexandrian society, Chava finds herself cast off and alone in Rome. Forced to learn difficult lessons, she struggles to trust a promise HaShem has given her. After experiencing the best and worst of Roman society, Chava must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God’s will for her life. 

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

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Bread of Angels

25 – Philippi (Greece)

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances—along with her father’s precious dye—help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

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