11 March 2014

The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley

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A jealous Egyptian queen. A lascivious Galilean governor. A beautiful servant girl. Theirs is a story of prophecy, self-discovery, and revelation.

The year is 39 BC. All of Alexandria awaits the arrival of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on the Judean kingship. The handmaid of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, receives a troubling visit from her aging mentor.

An orphan since birth, Lydia lives in the palace at the demand of Cleopatra and her royal child, the son of Julius Caesar. But Lydia has a growing problem on her hands: her beauty is becoming a liability to the aging queen, and the visiting Herod’s undisguised interest only makes matters worse.

When Lydia’s mentor is murdered, the handmaid inherits a daunting task. An ancient set of sealed scrolls, the secret writings of the prophet Daniel, must be returned to Jerusalem – before those who killed her mentor destroy the scrolls as well. The future of the Israelites depends on it. So Lydia leaves the palace to serve as lady’s maid to Herod’s wife in the Holy City.

As Lydia is absorbed into the machinations of Herod’s household, her mission – and her people’s hope of a Messianic King – are endangered at every turn. Can Lydia avoid the adulterous intentions of Herod? Can she deliver the scrolls to the mysterious man on the steps of the Temple? Will the true King of Israel ever rise?

Lured by my enjoyment of So Shines the Night, I eagerly journeyed once more into the past via Tracy L. Higley’s The Queen’s Handmaid. This time exploring the era just a few decades before the birth of Christ, Higley brings infamously well-known characters – Herod the Great, Cleopatra, Marc Antony among many others – to life vibrantly among the pages of this well-researched yet imaginative narrative. These appalling and fascinating depictions mix with political intrigue, forbidden romance, heartbreaking tragedy, a search for worth and belonging, and moments of lighthearted humor to create a thoroughly engaging work of historical fiction. Unable to stop reading, I turned page after page with bated breath until I knew with certainty how Lydia fared amongst the consuming and corrupting politics and its figureheads of the time. This novel is a definite recommendation to anyone with an interest in historical, biblical fiction.  I cannot help but thank Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a free copy of this book and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)