Jewel of the Nile
by Tessa Afshar
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date June 1, 2021
Genres: Biblical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Cush, Italy Roman Empire - 32BC - 1461 AD
Written for: Adults
Whispered secrets about her parents’ past take on new urgency for Chariline as she pays one last visit to the land of her forefathers, the ancient kingdom of Cush.
Raised as an orphan by her aunt, Chariline has only been told a few pieces of her parents’ tragic love story. Her beautiful dark skin is proof that her father was Cushite, but she knows nothing else. While visiting her grandfather before his retirement as the Roman official in the queen’s court, Chariline overhears that her father is still alive, and discovering his identity becomes her obsession. Both her grandfather and the queen have reasons for keeping this secret, however, and forbid her quest. So when her only clues lead to Rome, Chariline sneaks on the ship of a merchant trusted by friends.
Theo is shocked to discover a stowaway on board his vessel and determines to be rid of her as soon as possible. But drawn in by Chariline’s story, he feels honor-bound to see her safely to shore, especially when it appears someone may be willing to kill for the truth she seeks.
In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters―including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
When I first saw this title, I thought it was from a much earlier time period and a different country. Which wouldn’t have mattered, I really enjoy Tessa Afshar’s writing and would have read it regardless. Intrigued by the synopsis, I was eager to learn more.
I was transported to another time and place from the very start. And fascinated by the plight of Gemina and her husband, who were introduced in the prologue. I quickly became fully invested in the characters and knew that I had to follow their story to its conclusion!
I struggled a little with reading the name Chariline at first. Then I realized that her name was Greek and therefore assumed the “ch” would be pronounced like “k” as in charis – therefore read it as “Caroline”. It made the rest of the reading much easier!
Chariline had such a sad background! My heart went out to the orphan who was despised by her grandfather due to her mixed heritage and the rebellion she represented to him and merely tolerated by the aunt who raised her. When she discovered that her father was still living, I didn’t blame her at all for wanting to discover his identity and was impressed by the bold way she continued to search for him.
As much as I admired Chariline, I adored Theo! He was so fascinating. When he discovered her as a stowaway on his ship, he was so kind to her and possessed the servant heart Jesus desires from His followers!
One of my favorite less-known New Testament characters played a minor, though significant, role and I loved reading the author’s depiction of him! The conjecture the author made about his backstory was interesting and unexpected. I was fascinated to learn more about the plight of the God-fearers desiring to worship and yet were forbidden access to the temple. The circumstances that led him to feel insignificant were very moving.
A level of suspense and mystery filled the pages as Chariline’s search took place and Theo had to protect her from an unexpected threat. And as both learned to find their value in Christ alone.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched story. And as it contained characters from other books by Tessa Afshar also set during this time period, including Theo, it made me want to go back and re-read The Thief of Corinth and Daughter of Rome! It is not necessary to read them all together but it certainly would enhance the reading experience to do so.