Warning: this book may impact your understanding of God's love for you.
Redeeming Love is a beautiful story, based on the book of Hosea in the Bible. It is not an exact re-telling, and I was glad, thinking, if Angel ends up having kids by other men the way Gomer did, I'm not going to like this book. So never fear. I wasn't disappointed, and I don't think you'll be either.
Angel has lived through hell. Her life is marked by rejection and hardship. At age eight, her mother dies. She is sold to a child molester, and then eventually into prostitution. As a teenager, she escapes and travels west to California, hoping for a new start. But she doesn't have any useful skills, and so she turns back to prostitution, having no other way to survive. She doesn't know love, and she doesn't believe in God. All she knows is that she should have never been born.
Michael Hosea is a man of God who yearns for a wife. He is excited when God points Angel out to him as the one, and dismayed to learn that she is a prostitute. Still, he marries her, and day by day he courageously pursues her cold, dead heart, believing that one day she will fall in love with him and become the wife he longs for.
There are people who thought this book a little too risque for their tastes. I thought Rivers did a fantastic job of keeping it clean, especially considering that it is about a prostitute who has endured unspeakable horrors. There are places when she and Michael are being intimate "on scene", but nothing is described or detailed. Rivers only gives insight into their emotions and conversation.
Though the prologue is long, it did help me understand where Angel was coming from. If Rivers had introduced me to Angel when she was an embittered prostitute and offered her back story in little bits and pieces, I might not have been sympathetic toward her.
The characters were beautifully crafted, but I will say that Michael seemed a little too good to be human in places. I did appreciate his temper and doubts, but he was on speaking terms with a certain character way too fast in my opinion. I did not like Paul at all. I didn't even feel sorry for him for losing his wife. I would have been happy if he had remained a miserable lonely man for the rest of his life. (Yes, I disliked him that much.) And here's where Rivers' talent comes in: she took Paul, a character I wanted to spit at, and had me forgiving him in the last few chapters. Wow. I want to write like Francine Rivers when I grow up.
What is it about Francine Rivers' books? She doesn't get fancy with her words or sentences. Her stories aren't packed with adventure or humor. But there's something about them. There's something that draws you into the story and holds you there until the end. Maybe its the unique characters and their life-like emotions and struggles. Or Rivers' honest heart spilling onto every page. Perhaps its the powerful message of redemption and grace, so naturally woven through the plot. Pick up one of Rivers' books. You'll see what I mean. And like me, you'll probably add her to your list of favorite authors to watch.
I've learned that I'm not the only one who hasn't read Redeeming Love, so instead of hording this wonderful book on my shelves, I'm going to give it away. Yep, my first giveaway, and I'm excited. I'm not sure how my book blogging friends draw names, so I'm going to do it the old-fashioned way: I'm going to write the names down on a slip of paper and throw it in a hat. (Yes, you may go ahead and laugh.)
To qualify for my giveaway:
1) You have never read Redeeming Love
2) Leave a comment below, and make sure you include your email address so I can contact you if you win. If you feel like answering a question, I'd love to know what would inspire you pick up a book by a new or unfamiliar author.
3) You must have a US mailing address.
I'll announce the winner next Tuesday, April 16th, in my new blog post.