“Return to Exile” by Lynne Gentry

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.

Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.

Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spell-binding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.

I’ve been a time travel nut for years, but I’ve never read  one as unique and detailed as this!  We usually make our time travelers visit the romantic times in history – the times of knights and castles or the Wild West with cowboys and ladies in prairie plaid, but Gentry has taken a whole new approach.  She’s taken romance to a new level by inserting it into a time travel story between the ultimate modern lady – a doctor – and a real historical figure in Cyprian, a Christian martyr. 

The fact that Cyprian has such a seemingly pious life might make one think the story would be dull, but it’s the complete opposite.  With multiple plagues, treason, slavery, and a class war going on, this story is full of intrigue and excitement.  It is the second in the series, and so it took me a few pages to figure out exactly who everyone was, but Gentry does a great job of filling in the backstory, and I was soon up to speed and running with it. 

I used to think that the early church history was boring.  Wasn’t it all about super-smart people preaching all the time?  Except, as Gentry expertly shares, it wasn’t.  It was about, as it is now, putting Jesus’ teachings into action, and those should be carried out in deed as well as in prayer and study.  At this time in history, it was about sharing and surviving and being brave enough to face death for your choices.  For Jesus.  It was about putting your faith on the line for all to see, and since we aren’t in that same situation here in the States, we often forget just what other people must put on the line for their faith.

I loved the contrast between Lisbeth’s desire to help and her initial willingness to put everything on the line.  Between her desire to control and her desire to sacrifice.  Between her desire for the man she loves and the One she’s declared Lord of all.  The characters are real and the problems honest.  While we’re probably not going to drop into another century anytime soon, we are called to live out our faith in myriads of ways every day – and like others around the world, the time may come when those decisions have life-and-death consequences.  What will you choose?  How will you make that choice?

Return to Exile is both provocative and exciting.  I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

I hope you do, too.

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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.

Find Lynne online: website, Facebook, Twitter
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

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