In this debut historical romance, a Hebrew princess and an Irish warrior fall in love, but duty may keep them apart.
In 586 B.C., Jerusalem has fallen to the Babylonians. Princess Teia Tamar, almost 15 and the Judean king’s oldest daughter, must flee the city with the prophet Jeremiah, who brings with him the Bethel Stone that was Jacob’s pillow. They find refuge in Egypt, along with a scattered band of Hebrew refugees. Also in Egypt is Eochaid Finn, 21, son of Ireland’s high king. He’s sailed far from home, but legends say his people were originally an Israelite colony that came to Erin via Spain. Jeremiah reveals that it’s Eochaid’s destiny to rule in David’s line, a line that is also Teia’s, but his people must turn away from Baal. When Teia and Eochaid meet, they are instantly and deeply attracted, feeling as if they’ve always known each other. But they both have duties: Eochaid must return home, while Teia must serve her God and study Jeremiah’s scrolls. Over the next several years, Eochaid makes a dangerous sea journey, braving pirates, storms, and political intrigue once he reaches Erin. Jeremiah, meanwhile, insists they sail away from idolatrous Egypt with Teia as guardian of the Stone. This also becomes a treacherous odyssey, and a tempest blows them off course—to Erin, where Eochaid, now high king, is about to wed. Can the royal lines of David unite, with the Stone in their throne room? Brittain offers a well-researched, solidly described novel based on legend and history (a selected bibliography is attached) that’s bolstered by scriptural quotations on God’s covenant with Israel. The notion of this covenant as a kind of marriage is well supported in both the Old and New Testaments, which adds some weight and significance to the love story. The romance is chaste and feather light, seeming barely translated from a 1950s high school, with (for example) Eochaid’s torque standing in for a class ring. Brittain’s diction wobbles between high style (“I live for him, the Creator of all that we see…and all that remains hidden”) and contemporary (“Hannah put on a pouty face”), which can become jarring.
An effective tale for readers who like biblical history and legend with their young love.