My boss actually lent me this book recently, and I devoured it! I don't typically go for historical fiction, and by that, I mean I never read historical fiction. Until this book.
This is a retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, one which portrays God's unconditional, redemptive, and all-consuming love. Set in California's gold country in 1850, this book has resonated with me. I knew nothing of the book besides these things, and then I dove into it.
If you do not want to know the in's and out's of this book, please skip down to the next section of the review!
Sarah's father despised her - as in, he wished she were never born, seeing as he impregnated his mistress and then wanted nothing to do with the child. He also broke Sarah's mother's heart, for all she wanted was his love. He was everything to her, and to him, she was a good time at most. Sarah longed for her father to want her, but loved her, he did not. He couldn't, wouldn't - he never did. I couldn't even begin to imagine such an existence from the beginning. All this young child wanted was to play with her daddy and sit on his lap, listening to him tell her a story.
After her mother's passing, Sarah was sold into prostitution, at the young age of eight years old. She had witnessed murder and did things no one should ever have to do, no matter their age. There, she was branded Angel, of which she would remain. She ran away to California and was taken under the wing of a woman who went by 'Duchess'. Angel was the best in the prostitution business, and men paid a pretty penny to see her. Everyone knew who she was. Heads turned when she walked down the street.
A local farmer named Michael then entered the picture. He tried multiple times to get Angel to leave with him and marry him, but she would not hear of it. That is, until her bodyguard beat her within an inch of her life, and Michael saved her. She agreed to marry him while in and out of consciousness, and before she knew it, she was a farmer's wife.
Angel did her part to earn her keep at their single-room cabin, but she laughed at Michael when he expressed his love for her. How could a man that knew nothing of her past love her so much? But God told Michael that she was the one for him, and he persisted. With Michael's best interest in mind, Angel ran away several times, but Michael continually went after her and brought her home each time. She convinced herself that she was no good for him - he was strong, independent, loving, caring, warm, and faithful. She was a prostitute and would not see herself as anything but.
This kept up until the final time she ran away. She grew to love Michael so deeply and finally knew what true love was. But she could not bear children, which she knew Michael wanted so deeply. Upon hearing this news, Michael reassured Angel that it was okay - they would be okay. But Angel sacrificed her happiness and left so that Michael could find a more suitable wife to bear his children. She came into some good fortune by the grace of God and became part of the church, something she told Michael would never happen - she often would scoff at Michael for reading from the Bible every night.
After being away for three years, coming to God, and really making something of her life helping fallen women as she had once been, Michael's brother-in-law, Paul, searched for Angel at the request of his new wife. All the time Angel was with Michael, Paul knew she was a prostitute. He also never let her forget that he knew, and he used her on an occasion she was running away from Michael. Upon finding her after being away for three years, he learned that he did not know who Angel really was for all of that time she was with Michael - he had only seen her as a prostitute. He informed her that Michael could not and would not live without her; he loved her. He always had and always would. Angel went back to Michael, who forgave her, and she experienced Redeeming Love.
I flew through this book pretty fast, as the story line really flows and is quick to absorb. I honestly had a hard time reading the first part because it truly shows you the life that Angel was living as a prostitute. As the story unfolds, her past is revealed more and more, and the reader learns of the awful things she had done in her past, not because she wanted to, but because she was forced to. She wasn't raised with loving parents that cared about her, so she didn't know what being loved really felt like. This broke my heart. I couldn't relate to Angel on a personal level, but I sympathized for her. It really opened my eyes to prostitution - not that I am oblivious to it, but reading about it at such a depth really mesmerized me. It was awful.
My heart broke on more than one occasion throughout the book, for several different reasons. But knowing it was a book about God's redeeming and unconditional love, I also knew that it just had to have a happy ending, and it didn't disappoint. This book was so amazing from cover to cover, and it never lulled. I was anxious to find out more as the pages flipped on, and I didn't once wish it would just end. It's such a great read and I definitely recommend it!