Happy Saturday, dear readers! Continuing until October 28th (culminating with a list of winners), I have the privilege of featuring all of the 2021 The Christy Award Finalists! Today I’m featuring Dana McNeely and her first novel Christy Award finalist book Rain! You can check out a list of all the finalists HERE.
SERIES: Whispers on the Wind #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction / Biblical era
PUBLISHER: Mountain Brook Ink
RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2021
He is destined to be high priest—but at what cost to those he loves?
In ancient Samaria, Aban anticipates his rites of passage with excitement and dread. He yearns to join the priesthood of Ba’al Melqart, unlock the power of the rain god, and hear the deity’s voice. He’s been warned the licentious ceremony can take a dangerous turn, but as eldest son of the high priestess, he holds a privileged position. If he can make it through the ceremony, one day he’ll rise to high priest.
On the eve of the rituals, Aban’s mother confesses a dark secret about the bloody sacrifice demanded by Melqart. Aban may have escaped the flames, but if he is to save his brother, Aban must take his destined position of power as soon as possible.
When the mysterious prophet Elijah interrupts the rites, overturns the idol, and curses the land with drought, Aban’s world is shaken. The current high priest and the king appear powerless, but even more confusing is the fact that the rain god does nothing.
Against his better judgment, Aban conceals the strange prophet’s whereabouts, forfeiting the high priesthood. Now an enemy of the relentless Queen Jezebel, Aban has little time to question his fading commitment to Ba’al Melqart as he and his loved ones flee. But the conflict in Samaria is much larger than just a high priestess and her sons. Soon, Aban will have to choose a side in Yahweh’s war against the Ba’als—and it may cost him his life.
affiliate links used
Also available to read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited
I asked the author for a peek inside…
Aban woke to the sound of an argument.
“Of course I am your friend, but you are asking too much.” The voice faded as sandals shuffled away.
Was that Bilhan? Aban rubbed his eyes, staring into the pre-dawn darkness.
He saw the men beyond the campfire, which he’d kept stoked during the night. The camels were dark shapes settled inside a circle of flickering light, safe there from predators. The women still slept, his brother between them.
Hiel spoke quietly, using his hands for emphasis, but Aban couldn’t make out his words.
“No, I tell you,” Bilhan said. “I already have a wife.”
Again, Hiel murmured something, and Bilhan huffed. “She may be old, but she has a temper and a camel prod. No, I’ll stay with you as far as Dothan, then I go home.”
That seemed to end the conversation. Bilhan walked to the camels and began untying the hobbles. So, he didn’t want Mara for a second wife. Aban couldn’t blame him. In truth, he couldn’t imagine his mother taking second place to anyone. But that still left open the question of what they should do. Before, they never worried about food, clothing, or shelter. Now they slept by a campfire, accompanied by two strangers on whom they depended for everything. Would Hiel also leave them in Dothan? How would Aban care for his family alone? Aside from being a grape farmer for a handful of days, he’d been trained for only one thing.
He stood, pausing to allow aching muscles to adjust, then stretched, and feigned a noisy yawn. He ambled over to Hiel, who knelt beside Gamal’s pack, rummaging through its contents.
“Can I help?” Aban tried to make out the dark shapes inside the pack.
Hiel handed him two pouches smelling of ripe figs and parched grain. “We’ll eat a cold breakfast and get an early start.”
Aban edged closer. With the provisions out of the way, he could see a workman’s belt folded underneath. It held what must be the tools of Hiel’s trade—hammers, awls, and chisels.
Hiel glanced at him. “Every man should know something about carpentry. I’ll teach you when we reach Zarephath.”
When we reach Zarephath. Aban leaned over as if studying the tools, relief tightening his throat. Suddenly, the stone pouch slid from his belt and thumped the ground.
Hiel picked up the pouch, weighing it in his hands. “For a slingshot?”
“It must have come loose as I slept.” Aban unwound the leather sling from his waist and showed it to him. “Caleb gave it to me.
“I had one like it as a boy. Are you any good?”
Aban shrugged, rubbing his thumb across the leather depression made by countless stones. “I need practice. When it’s light, I’ll show you.”
“Hiel!” Bilhan shouted, pointing east.
On the ridge above, a line of horsemen stood looking down at them. Spears jutted into the gray sky and bronze shields reflected shards of light.
One rider trotted his horse down the hill and the others followed, the animals plunging, sliding, sometimes sitting back on their haunches as they poured down the steep slope. A score of soldiers, maybe more.
Hiel pulled his tool belt from the pack, strapping it on with grim, quick movements. Aban realized many of the hefty tools would double as weapons. He shook a handful of stones from his pouch. Their sharp edges dug into his clenched palm.
Dana McNeely, Rain
Mountain Brook Ink, © 2021. Used by permission.
Dana McNeely writes biblical fiction from an Arizona oasis, where she lives with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and myriad migrating butterflies. When not researching, writing, or struggling with the mysteries of social media, Dana can be found wandering in her personal Eden dreaming up new stories. No serpents allowed!
Subscribe to Dana’s newsletter at https://danamcneely.com for updates and a FREE book, The Eyes of the Lord.
Dana McNeely is offering a signed, print copy of Rain to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read the first novel Christy Award finalist Rain by Dana McNeely? Or, if you’ve read it already, what did you love about it?