Relentless Heart by Jennifer Lynn Cary – Book Review, Preview

Posted July 20, 2020 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews /

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I absolutely love the Biblical account of Ruth! The way this young woman followed her mother-in-law into a country that was not only foreign to her but also was most likely hostile towards her.

What motivated her to follow Naomi?

How did the people of Israel treat her?

Her kindness to Naomi and the manner in which she toiled to provide are beautiful examples of the type of love we should be living.

And then there is Boaz. The wealthy landowner who was a leader in his community. What was it about Ruth that attracted his attention? His kindness to the foreigner was not the norm…

Relentless Heart by Jennifer Lynn Cary – Book Review, Preview

Relentless Heart

by Jennifer Lynn Cary

Series: Relentless #1
Series Rating:
Published by Tandem Services Press
Publication Date July 20, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Vietnam, Indiana Vietnam Era - US - 1961 - 1975
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-34
Written for: Adults


Her future looked desperate…

…but she had a relentless spirit.

Could she learn to love again?

Vietnamese Photojournalist Hien begins 1968 with great promise—a new husband, new family, and a pending move from Saigon to a new place, Indiana. With the Tet celebrations, plus a truce for the holiday, everything points to wonderful.

It wouldn’t last.

When her world explodes, she has a choice to make.

Will it be enough to save her family?

Indiana farmer Beau Salem helps everyone in need. But after lonely years of caring for his family and community, Hien brings old buried wounds to the surface.

Can he release his hidden pain?

What will it cost?

Set against the turbulent Vietnam era, you’ll love this passionate retelling, inspired by the book of Ruth, where two worlds collide, because this gripping tale won’t let you go.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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When I read the synopsis of Relentless Heart, I knew I had to read the story! While I have read other retellings of Ruth’s story, somehow having her character be Vietnamese in the middle of the Vietnam War was the most appropriate translation I have yet seen. Then to bring her to the heartland of America. Perfect!

Seeing Vietnam through Hien’s eyes – after she moved away from her family to be the bride of an American pilot – was quite an experience! While I know a few facts about the Vietnam War, I have never spent much time pondering what it would have been like to be there. I loved seeing Hien learning to navigate the world of the Embassy and experiencing life in a country divided! The fear she and Mil experienced as they lived through the terrors of the Tet Offensive was portrayed realistically and yet without excessive violence or gore.

Fast forward to Indiana, to a small town called Breadville. How apt, as Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. I loved the way the author translated Boaz into Beau – a farmer who also owned businesses in town and was respected as a city and church leader.

I loved Hien’s reactions to the various aspects of life in the United States. Her naivety caused some to ridicule her and yet when she responded with humor and grace, attitudes toward her changed. At least some did. My favorite of her reactions, though, was to the soap operas Beau’s mother watched! Oh, and once I found out his mom’s reason for watching them, my whole perception of that was dumped right on its head! It is fascinating how easy it is to make perfectly valid assumptions that are, without knowing the entire situation, entirely wrong.

While each of the highlights of Ruth’s story is touched on here, it did not make the story predictable because of the manner in which they were transposed to the new setting. It is hard to call them surprises yet I loved anticipating the way the story would unfold. And I was surprised at the way one of the elements worked out. I had honestly expected this part to be left out.

Prejudice was shown for exactly what it is. Hatred without reason. Fear of those who are different. Not only was there prejudice against Hien, historical events from the time of the story tied in with this beautifully. I loved how Beau and his family responded with prayer and compassion! I wish that these things in the story didn’t correspond to current events as well as they do, that the lessons we should have learned in the past would be remembered and would have changed attitudes!

A strong spiritual message is presented throughout as Hien learns about Jesus and what it means to put her faith in Him. And as Beau learns about the power of prayer and allowing the Lord to fight his battles for him.

Even though some parts of the dialog felt a little stilted and some of the events were more “told” than “shown” as the author attempted to provide a large amount of backstory, I still highly recommend this lovely story.

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