The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, and solve perplexing mysteries---and she's a woman! When Sarah's forced to marry the queen's nephew, her career disappears but not her skills. After discovering irregularities in Darius's books, she finds herself in grave danger---and learns that she has more to offer than her talents.
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I don't know how Tessa does it, but each of her stories are not only greatly entertaining, they're also loaded with a wealth of wisdom that is enough to change one's life entirely ― and I don't say this lightly. This is pure reading goodness that is simply not to be missed
Written from the heroine's perspective, ''Harvest of Rubies'' invites readers to step in to the life of a young woman struggling with self-acceptance. Oblivious to the treasure that she is, Sarah, scribe to the queen of Persia, has been bestowed more honor than an average woman would receive in her entire lifetime. Her kindness, keen intellect and sharp ability to discern has won her many favors. All but the love of her own father who seems to be only interested in her talents. Ever since the death of his beloved wife, he shuns her. Where on earth is she supposed to find acceptance? Sarah then comes to the conclusion that only what she does matters and proceeds to immerse herself into her work, sowing time and energy and reaping more insecurities and fears. She stumbles into an arranged marriage with a Persian aristocrat but even this seems to be a recipe for a disaster, right from the beginning. When will she break free from it all? Will her heart ever be healed?
Captivating and mellifluously written, ''Harvest of Rubies'' is the kind of read that is impossible to put down. I wasn't halfway through it that I was laughing out loud, delighted by Tessa's sense of humor. The values flowing through this book reached for my heart and sprung tears to my eyes. It's a story meant to be revisited time and time again and the author writes with a golden voice that leaves a reader basking in the wonder and pleasure of it. Absolutely an excellent work again by Tessa Afshar.
What an incredible book! I tend to devour books; I can go through one or two a day. Rarely have I read a book that I immediately wanted to reread. This book was full of spiritual insight, had plenty of historical detail, and was also really excellent fiction. I don't find that combination often! It really helped change my perspective on a few things and has actually helped both my marriage and my relationship with God. Plus I thoroughly enjoyed the book!!
The time period was fascinating; I haven't read many books set in this part of history, and the author described it with such detail (while somehow avoiding seeming tedious) I felt like I was actually there! I don't know if I have ever fallen in love with characters the way I did with Sarah and Darius. Sarah was just so beautifully normal, so incredibly relatable, so flawed and yet so likeable. Even now, I almost think of her as a fond friend. Darius was - sigh, such a hearthrob! I almost fell in love with him right along with Sarah! Their dialogue and chemistry was wonderfully written.
And oh, the spiritual truths buried in this book! I feel like it has permanently changed my life! For one thing, the author illustrates so beautifully and poignantly how our true worth is not in what we look like or what we do, how smart or brilliant we are, or any of the other things we try to turn to to find our value, it's completely in how we are loved and treasured by God. She also pointed out something I had never heard before - that in Scripture, David's "why?" of God was different than our typical "why?" (I'll let you read it to find out the specifics) This was sooo convicting and has settled my relationship with God in a lot of ways - I was letting my questions make me doubt his goodness. Her depiction of us as the vine and God as the vinedresser was the best I've ever heard, probably because she told it from the point of view of an actual gardener - I feel like I grasp this illustration so much better now. And lastly, it might be a little shallow, but I have really struggled with the idea of beauty - what is our culture's idea of beauty, what is God's idea of beauty, and what the truth actually is. Through Sarah's experiences, I feel like I understand it so much better in a way I haven't before!
I can't wait for Tessa's next book! Already pre-ordered!
At first, I thought this book might be a little tedious- it began with a bit of backstory, and though it wasn't exactly boring, I must admit I wasn't expecting much. However, as the book went on, I really got hooked- if I had to leave the book for a moment, I was eager to get back to it!
Unlike a lot of historical fiction- especially Biblical/ancient history fiction, I felt this book was a lighter read- not that it didn't have story depth, but in the fact that it wasn't bogged downed with lots of historical information or hard language.
It was a little romanc-y for me (mainly near the end) and there were a few scenes I skimmed over because of it. However, overall, I really enjoyed this book.
This is a wonderful story set in ancient Persia during the time of King Artaxerxes and after Queen Esther’s time. This is my first novel by this author and it won’t be the last! Another novel, Harvest of Gold, continues the story begun in this novel and will be reviewed here soon. Sarah is a young woman who can do something most other women of her time can’t…read and write. She began teaching herself Persian at the age of 9 to earn her father’s love and attention as he is a scribe in the royal palace. Sarah makes this her goal in life too. She achieves her goal, but isn’t fond of the politics that go on in the palace. She solves a mystery for the queen and as a reward gets a husband. At the age of 23, Sarah is doing what she wants in life and doesn’t want a husband, aristocrat or not. Once married, she will have to give up her dream. She tries everything to get out of the marriage, but to no avail. She knows she will be miserable in this marriage as she doesn’t know how to cook, take care of a household and she certainly isn’t pretty. What is she going to do with her time now? Darius has been forced to marry a commoner and isn’t happy about it. He promised his Jewish mother that he would marry a Jewish woman and he has kept that promise, but he isn’t giving his new wife any benefit of the doubt after the stunt she pulled at their wedding ceremony. He catches glimpses of her true character, but he is reluctant to trust her. What is she up to? Can Darius learn to fully trust his wife? He finally returns home to a mess, but solves it with Sarah’s help. He slowly begins to spend more time with her and learns more about her. She seems trustworthy, funny, loyal and spirited. Is this just an act? Readers see Sarah’s insecurities and her efforts to banish those insecurities through finding her worth in what she does and what people think of her. I can certainly identify with that. Can you? The wonderful wise gardener, Bardia, whom Sarah comes to love like a father tells her that pruning the vine is for its’ own good and done to enrich its’ yield. Sarah suddenly sees the parallel of the vine with her own life. It is at this point that she begins to see how God is using the difficulties in her life not to punish her, but to make her life better. She learns to pray to Him regularly and often and be content in her circumstance. I just loved Sarah, her witty sarcasm and the snappy dialogue between characters. Sarah’s growth in faith is inspiring and at the same time challenging. I can definitely recommend this book without reservation. It is entertaining from beginning to end. Readers won’t be disappointed.
The cousin of Nehemiah is a brilliant individual. A self taught scribe to the queen in the Persian court, working long hours with little personal time, and forming close associations with the royal family, one major problem existed. Sarah is a woman. She is in a man's world where her intellect means little outside of the palace.
When the queen presents the prospect of an arranged marriage to her nephew, a man she does not love, looses her achievements, her self worth, in exchange for humiliation. Sarah must find a way to connect to this man, to be a blessing to him....but how?
The mysterious cover of this book intrigued me, and the contents of its pages equaled this image. As a lover of history, I was captivated with the knowledge presented of the setting at 460 BC.
The author's descriptions of each scene beautifully portrayed this culture. I was interested in the dynamics of an arranged marriage, a concept that is so very foreign to me. The relationship between Sarah and her husband growing from stranger to lover was complex, and showed the effort needed to make an arranged marriage work.
The author has included a timeline, cast of character descriptions, and even typical recipes from this period. As with Pearl In The Sand, Harvest of Rubies will not disappoint the reader. You will want a copy and an afternoon or evening to devour this fascinating novel!
This was such a spiritually moving book. Plus, I enjoyed the deep love story developing between the husband and wife. In fact, I enjoyed everything about this story. I loved how the author took what is common to mankind and made it relevant to a spiritual journey today. It really made me think about things in my life. Plus, it was very well written and I became lost in the story. Since a lot of books seem to lose my attention lately, this story was especially delightful because I wanted to keep reading it.
The heroine was a people-pleaser from childhood following the death of her mother; at least, she was that way at first. I could see how Sarah really believed she had to do important things to be loved. I appreciated how the author brought that full circle and how Sarah learned that she was loved for who she was, not what she did. The illustration from the pruning of the grapevine was poignant as well. I could see a spiritual harvest of rubies in her life, so the title was perfect. Had she received less pruning from the Lord, her life may not have blossomed into a beautiful thing to behold by book's end. Great story for lovers of Biblical fiction. I highly recommend it.
Harvest of Rubies. Given to me free for a review by Moody Publishing.
Harvest of Rubies was a book I was waiting for. I have heard wonderful interviews with Tessa, and I think her story was a wonderful idea- a young female scribe raised by a distant father and doing a man's job. Sarah does not know how to be a woman and at 23 is an unmarried scribe for the Persian empire. She lost her mother at a very young age and the person who watches out for her is Nehemiah, her cousin, who is cupbearer to the King. I admire the story, the writing, and the idea of a girl who comes to know that she is not worthy of Love based on her performance- but because she is God's child.
I love the Biblical metaphor of the Grape vine and the Husbandman who tends it that Tessa incorporates in her story. The gardener who tends the grapes seems to cut them so that they will die- pruning them until Sarah is sure they will never live and bear fruit again. Her life has been pruned and she too fears she will never live again. She lost her mother at seven and although the words of the Hebrew Psalms remain in her mind, this Jewish Maiden does not trust God's pruning. It is only when her own life begins to bloom again that she understands that the grapevines pruned the most by the gardener are the ones who bear the harvest- a harvest of rubies. "How like the vine I had felt that day, stripped almost to the point of death, everything I held precious taken from me. How I had longed for my old life back. And yet... God had intended to do me good by dismantling my world. I had thought that my work was the measure of of my worth. I had made my accomplishments more important than friendships, more important than my heart, more important even than God. The more I clutched at my achievements, the sicker my soul had grown. And God in His mercy, in His uncompromising Love, had torn the sickness out of my chest. I remembered suddenly the Words of the LORD through the prophet Hosea.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt."
I think the premise is fascinating. I wish this book had been written without any of the "romance" though. I had to skip chunks of this story to get around the "love story." Novels- no matter how well written that contain romance do not foster thoughts of men as "brothers in all purity." And so, very reluctantly because of the goodness of the story idea, I give this novel two stars.
Sarah is proficient in many areas - she can read and write in multiple languages, she can keep complicated ans lengthy accounts, and has a quick and sharp mind. The only thing stopping her from great success is that she is a woman. But when her cousin Nehemiah recommends her to the position of head scribe to the queen, she is completely unprepared for the events that follow.
Sarah has always measured her worth based on her accomplishments; if she fails in any aspect of her work, she sees herself as a failure as well. So when her position as senior scribe is threatened because of her success as the queen's trusted account holder, she is, for the first time in her life, being measured for who she is as a person. With no complicated rolls of parchment and clay tablets to hide behind, will she attain her own measure of worthiness? Or does God has other plans for His child?
This was a wonderful re-imagining of a fictional character set in Biblical times. Afshar deals with something that we all struggle with at some point in our life; the measure of our worth. Despite the lack of history Afshar had to work with as a background for her story, she does a marvelous job of re-creating the setting and bringing it to life. It was a story I could believe in and learn from, and an author that understands the very heart that beats in every one of us. Not only a recommended read, but one I will revisit again and again.
A copy of this book was provided by Moody Press for free in exchange for an honest review.
This book has a beautiful story of a young Jewish girl coming of age and coming of faith. Tessa wonderfully works in spiritual food, truth and encouragement into this story which also makes Bible times come alive. Excellent read.
I love romance...can't get enough of it. Nothing better than a good, clean, wholesome, God-fearing love story. This book was all that - and more! I love the way this author writes...she's definitely on my "watch" list from now on. Wonderful, wonderful book. Be sure to check out her other novel, "Pearl in the Sand". Again - simply awesome!
This is a new author for me and I'm so glad I found her. The story is real, reaching your heart as you go through what Sarah is going through. I'd be at work thinking about her! I'm sorry I didn't order the 2nd book right away. I will now.
Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar Sarah is a scribe working in the Queen’s court in Persia. Sarah happens to be the cousin to Nehemiah, the cupbearer to Artaxerxes. Sarah loves her job and does it very well. She has not learned the art of being a woman or interacting with people as well as she should. When the Queen arranges for Sarah to marry a cousin to the King, Sarah has to learn her worth comes from God and not her work. Sarah learns how to be a woman in the Persian court. Darius, Sarah’s husband, finds that he enjoys his wife. Read Harvest of Rubies to see how an ordinary gardener can teach Sarah and Darius about the ways of God. I loved this book. This is the second book that Tessa Afshar has written. Both books are filled with wonderful historical facts. Afshar breathes life into some lesser known people from the Bible. The story that she weaves makes it easy to feel like you were actually there. The lessons that Sarah learned about herself worth are lessons that most women need to learn. So often we put our worth into our work or our beauty. When God is waiting for us to realize that He is the one that gives us worth even before we ask for it. He loved us before we first loved him. This story is a rare gem, one that I will treasure in my heart for many years to come.
“On my twelfth birthday, my father discovered that I could read.”
It was easy to relate to Sarah. All she ever wanted was approval, but she never received it unless she did something amazing...like reading, writing, or spying. I've always been loved not because of what I have done, but because of who I was, so it would be hard to be in Sarah's shoes.. Throughout this book, Sarah comes to realize that she is indeed loved and wanted by someone, whose approval is really the only one that matters. Many times, Sarah did some idiotic things and she always had to pay a severe price, whether the pain was physical or emotional. Her dense decisions put pressure on her relationships...even her own marriage. But despite her failure, I found myself quietly rooting for her, even after her embarrassing mistakes (like her wedding day)! Sarah's husband was totally opposite. I had mixed-emotions concerning him. Several times over, I found myself yelling at him, "You're delusional, man!" Yet at times, I found myself "falling in love" with him right along side Sarah. Next scene, I'd be angry with him. By the end, Sarah's husband finally won me over even when he was still doubtful of Sarah's character. I liked that he always kept me guessing. The story line was unique, fast-paced, enchanting, and caused some apprehension on my part. Constantly, a new sub-plot unfolded and captured my attention. Three times in the book, Sarah begins to search her heart and I found myself skimming those pages. At the end, the author doesn't resolve everything, which irked me until I saw that another book was indeed going to be coming out, finishing Sarah's story and beginning Nehemiah's. So, I'll just have to buckle down and wait for that to come out. Tessa Afshar is a master storyteller. I will be on the look-out for more of her books.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.
I received this book free from the publisher through the Moody Publishers blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Sarah finds purpose and fulfillment as scribe to the Queen of Persia. Pleased with Sarah's work, the Queen arranges Sarah's marriage to Darius Pasargadea, a respected and handsome aristocrat, as a kindness. However, after a disasterous wedding celebration, Sarah finds that marriage has stripped her of position, security and dignity. Locked in a miserable marriage and missing her old life, Sarah must open herself to new ideas and people, including her distant husband.
With Harvest of Rubies, Tessa Afshar cemented herself as one of my favorite authors. Having previously read Pearl in the Sand, I had high expectations for Harvest of Rubies and I was not disappointed. It had a unique storyline filled with a memorable protagonist, a little mystery and suspense, a history lesson and plenty of romance. I loved Sarah's personal and spiritual development. This is the type of book I could sit down with in the morning and read all day. Although I didn't have that luxury, it was that good! I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from River North Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. 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."
This is another wonderful Biblical fiction novel by Tessa! Other than a few verses, I haven't read the book of Nehemiah in the Bible, but you can bet I will be reading it after it came alive in this story. Though Nehemiah is a secondary character, Sarah and Darius became very real people to me. Sarah, with her misplaced sense of self based on the value of her work, and Darius, so intent on finding the truth but blind to his own judgmental ways, how we can still relate to them today. Combined with the stunning Persian palace life descriptions and historical tidbits are valuable lessons about trusting God, instead of leaning too much on the people around us. I also enjoyed the antics of Caspian, Darius' hunting dog, who became Sarah's friend. There is an excerpt of the next book about Sarah and Darius included at the end, and I enjoyed the peek into what will come next for these two.
With thanks to Moody Publishers, via NetGalley, for my review copy.
I throughly enjoyed Harvest of Rubies. The story line was easy to follow and I anticipated what would happen next. I really was pleased to learn more about that time and place in history and to encase it in real characters of the Bible made it even better. I look forward to reading her next book.
Tessa Afshar in her new book, “Harvest of Rubies” Book One in The Sarah/Darius Series published by River North Fiction Division of Moody Publishers takes us back to Biblical Persia 457 B. C.
From the Back Cover: Remarkable talent Threatens to cloud a life
The prophet Nehemiah has a cousin who can speak several languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve mysteries.
This cousin is catapulted into the center of the Persian court – working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and completing high-level tasks as a scribe for the queen.
Not bad, for a woman living in a man’s world.
The talented Sarah has a glowing future, and those closest to her believe her good fortune is the product of none other than God’s glorious design. Yet a devastating past has left Sarah with two strong conclusions: that God does not love her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth.
The only thing that will help her escape her idol of success, Sarah must learn to love and be loved – a task that could prove dangerous.
I like history and Tessa Afshar, if she wasn’t a writer of fiction, would make a great historian. Now add in that “Harvest of Rubies” is Biblical historical fiction and we have a full-blown winner. “Harvest of Rubies” takes place at the time of Nehemiah, the cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes, who will return, later, to Jerusalem and rebuild her walls. He has his own book in the Bible. Sarah is his cousin and she does the unthinkable at that time, which is to learn to read, write and do numbers. Eventually, this gets her promoted to being the Queen’s scribe but none of these accomplishments give her a feeling of self-worth. When Sarah solves a mystery for the Queen, the Queen rewards her with a husband which doesn’t work out so well at first. Now Sarah, with a little help, must deal with her self-worth issues and then, with her husband’s help, once again come to the aid of the Queen. As I said if you enjoy history like I do then this book is for you. Ms. Afshar really makes you feel the heat and the dust. Every one of her characters seem to come alive and it is like actually being there in Persia with them. “Harvest of Rubies” is all about loving who God made you to be, families and relationships and that is what makes this book a winner. I enjoyed this book a lot and am looking forward to the next one.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Wynn-Wynn Media for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”
A Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar is the first in a series of biblical fiction in the time of the Jewish exile in Babylon. Sarah discovered a way into her scribe father's heart by teaching herself to read Persian, and the quicker she learned, the more praise and attention she earned from him. When her cousin, Nehemiah, cup-bearer to the king, helps her earn a place at Persepolis, the palace, as the queen's scribe, she is at first terrified of such a rapid ascent. She loves her position in the palace, working with numbers and proving her worth through hard work, even though she constantly pushes herself harder and harder, fearful of losing her place and other's respect for her. When she solves a politically dangerous mystery for Queen Damaspia, the queen in turns does a "good" deed for Sarah by finding her a royal groom, Darius. Sarah's fear of marriage and complete lack of knowledge of all things feminine lead her to make a terrible mistake, shaming her husband and earning his disgust. He deposits her at his estate and leaves to stay at court, and Sarah, for the first time in her life, is forced to be herself without hiding behind work and numbers, and must do her best to hide her love for her husband. I had high expectations for this novel, but Afshar blew them all away. Sarah is so full of self-hatred, the reader can't help but ache for her and hope for Darius to see his real wife. Afshar carefully creates this very lifelike world that just springs to life under her capable pen. She includes mystery, romance, faith, and drama all into one powerful and thoroughly enjoyable novel. I was stunned when I came to the end of the book, nowhere near ready to say goodbye to the characters, so I am thrilled to know that a sequel is in the works!