Return to Exile

Return to ExileReturn to Exile by Lynne Gentry
Series: The Carthage Chronicles
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Howard Books on January 6, 2015
Pages: 384
Also in this series: Healer of Carthage, Valley of Decision
Also by this author: Healer of Carthage, Valley of Decision

 

About Return to Exile (from the back cover):
Dr. Lisbeth Hastings salvaged two things from her accidental trip to the third century: her mother’s stethoscope and her child. Making a life for her daughter Maggie back in the present is difficult, but returning to ancient Carthage is impossible. However, when Lisbeth learns her husband is slated to die a martyr’s death, she must find a way around the impossible to save him. Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. When Ruth, an old friend, proposes he marry her to restore his position and protect his estate, the disgraced nobleman accepts. But when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church. As Lisbeth and Cyprian reunite to battle a new epidemic and save the oppressed community of Christians, the chasm between the two of them seems too wide to bridge. But when Maggie contracts typhoid, Lisbeth must choose: stay and save the man she loves, or return home and save her daughter? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this incredibly compelling adventure of star-crossed lovers will keep you engrossed with every turn of the page.

Beth’s Review:
Healer of Carthage, book one of the Carthage Chronicles, was a sure recipe for success – there was danger, intrigue, romance and great historical details. In Return to Exile, those details are back in all of their fascinating glory. Again I found myself engrossed by how Lisbeth takes her knowledge of modern medicine and molds it and improvises in Carthage. Everything is set up for a story that I would enjoy just as much as book one, however, I must admit that I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much, and, at times, I felt disappointed while reading.

Everything is set up for a story that I would enjoy just as much as book one, however, I must admit that I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much, and, at times, I felt disappointed while reading.

I think my initial disappointment started with the pace set in the beginning. I wanted to get back to the excitement, which for me was in the past. After about 50 pages of re-covering some of the ground from book one, I started to lose steam, which isn’t a good sign that early on in a story. Once Lisbeth returned to Carthage, my interest grew once again. I knew from the summary that the characters were going to make some decisions that I probably wouldn’t like. Even braced for this, it created a big disinclination in me for Cyprian, whose motivations are not explained, nor are his reactions to Lisbeth sympathetic. I found it hard to really sink in to the story because the characters didn’t deal with the emotions and baggage that came as a result of their poor decisions. Once this big issue is glossed over, a major plot point occurs that basically eradicates the problem, and they never truly resolve their personal issues. It just made things seem altogether too convenient for my reading tastes.

I found it hard to really sink in to the story because the characters didn’t deal with the emotions and baggage that came as a result of their poor decisions.

Although I didn’t care for this particular aspect of the story, once I came to terms with it, I was drawn into the latter half of the story, and read through it quickly as the drama played out. Lynne is great at keeping the stakes high, and the tension in many scenes is palpable. She has created a villain in this story that made my skin crawl on several occasions. Many scenes evoke a visceral, cinematic quality. Magdalena is still one of my favorite characters; her selflessness is truly something to be admired, and for me, she is the true hero in this series thus far. Though I didn’t appreciate all of their decisions, Cyprian and Lisbeth do make many admirable choices that put others before themselves and their own happiness. While they love each other, I think the truer love comes from that which they experience in their faith. Lynne’s portrayal of their struggles to wage war on their fate or trust God rang true for me, and I think it will resonate with many readers.

Though I didn’t appreciate all of their decisions, Cyprian and Lisbeth do make many admirable choices that put others before themselves and their own happiness.

My displeasure in some aspect of the plot and characters is certainly not something that will affect every reader, and in fact, I’ve seen many great reviews of this story. If you enjoyed book one, be sure to read this one, too, as the character development and exciting moments are to be appreciated. I recommend reading them in order, as they don’t really work as standalones. Ultimately, I’m glad I read Return to Exile. The ending is quite the cliff-hanger, so I’m glad that I don’t have to wait to read the conclusion to Lisbeth’s story.

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