Thirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life.
All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow.
With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator.
Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion.
When you read historical fiction, you run the risk of knowing how the story will turn out ahead of time – simply because you know how history turned out. And yet, you can’t help but read the novel or series anyway because the author writes this particular version of events in such a compelling way. Such is the case with The Carthage Chronicles by Lynne Gentry, a time travel romance series set in the third century A.D.
The book I’m reviewing here today – Valley of Decision – is the third and final installment in the series and the one made most poignant by knowing a little about the history of early Christianity. Nevertheless I plunged ahead, riveted by Gentry’s story-crafting, unable to put the book down… albeit with a supply of tissues close at hand. Another reviewer on Goodreads said, “This book will pull you in, shred your heart, and put it back together whole and new again!”
Yes. I absolutely echo that statement.
Although…my heart is still a little sore. Perhaps my “whole and new again” experience will come after a bit more recovery time for my tender emotions 🙂
The thing about Lynne Gentry is that she writes such vivid characters and settings that leap off the page and take shape around you. This is why my emotions were so engaged as I read, why I alternated between tears streaming down my face and laughing and cheering and then back to the tears. At one point, I did the laughing and cheering through the tears lol. Readers will experience the struggle of a mother letting go as her little girl turns 18 and then watch the struggle of a daughter learning to mature. But perhaps the most heart-tugging (read: tissue-needing) aspect of the story goes back to what I said at the beginning of this review and involves Cyprian – the man Lisbeth loves, the man she married on her first journey through time, the father of her daughter, the bishop of Carthage during a time of great tumult for Christians in the region.
Bottom Line: Keep a box of tissues handy but do NOT miss this read! If you are a fan of the Outlander series, you need to read The Carthage Chronicles (and you will want to start with book 1, Healer of Carthage, or you might be unnecessarily lost). If, like me, you’ve really tried to like Outlander but failed, The Carthage Chronicles will redeem your faith in time travel books! Lynne Gentry’s writing voice is exceptional, her characters engaging, her story heartfelt. You will be moved by not only by Lisbeth and Cyprian’s story, but by the greater story their lives are telling.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
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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.