Monday, October 28, 2013

Review of "Healer of Carthage"

Rating: 4 Stars
~  ~  ~
Review: Part medical drama, part romance, part time-travel fantasy, Lynne Gentry's new novel "Healer of Carthage" is just the beginning of an adventure that will continue in "The Carthage Chronicles."  When I began reading "Healer of Carthage," I was reminded of Lisa T. Bergren's time-travel series "The River of Time." The novels are similar in many ways, but the specifics of the plots are very divergent.  Gentry takes her readers to the third century Roman city of Carthage, now in Tunisia. Present-day doctor Lisbeth Hastings finds herself transported to an era when Gladiator games, slave trade, political corruption, Christian persecution, and disease are rampant. We are swept along in her adventure, learning the nuances of survival in such a tempestuous city. There is a small degree of closure at the end of the novel, but there are clearly many more stories to delve into further in a sequel.

The medical scenes fluctuate in prevalence throughout the story.  Gentry's research is evident in the descriptions of injuries, illnesses, and treatments.  Lisbeth's struggle to adapt modern-day medicine to third world resources gives the scenes a new twist. Some of the "healing" became a bit dry for me and a little chaotic at the beginning. When Lisbeth was initially transported through time and landed in the middle of a bidding war, I felt as uprooted and disoriented as Lisbeth at times.  Between the odd names, the political factions, and the medical emergencies, the first part of the novel felt cluttered and overwhelming. The plot settled into a comfortable pace, and became especially engaging when focusing on the plights of Christians and innocent, oppressed citizens.

Lisbeth's relationship with Cyprian transitions from distrust to love. Cyprian possesses all of the noble qualities of an ancient hero, and holds much promise to continue as a pivotal character in the upcoming novels.  I look forward to the Lisbeth's and Cyprian's romance progressing to a deeper love.

"Healer of Carthage" comes full circle from beginning to end.  Gentry offers satisfying closure to some of Lisbeth's present-day problems, but the past is calling her back as surely as it calls the reader to await the next chapters in the "Carthage Chronicles."

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Howard Books through Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above 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.

Summary from Howard Books: A modern-day doctor gets trapped in third-century Carthage, Rome, where she uncovers buried secrets, confronts Christian persecution, and battles a deadly epidemic to save the man she loves.

Dr. Lisbeth Hastings, a first-year resident, is summoned by her eccentric father to join him at his archaeological dig. She is hesitant to accept his invitation, but when a tragic mistake ends her medical career, Lisbeth decides the only way to redeem her failure is to care for her confused father.

While exploring the haunting cave at her father’s dig, Lisbeth falls through a hidden hole and awakens to find herself the object of a slave bidding war! She tries to escape her captor, a wealthy Roman lawyer named Cyprian Thascius, and discovers that the city she remembers as ruins has somehow become brand-new. Who restored Carthage to a thriving metropolis? And if she is in the third century, how did this happen?

Cyprian believes God called him to rescue the beautiful and strange woman being auctioned off as a slave. He doesn’t understand why saving the church of his newfound faith requires him to love a mysterious woman who seems determined to get him killed by her stubbornness. But who is he to question God?

Their colliding worlds spark an intense attraction as Lisbeth and Cyprian soon find themselves united in a battle against a deadly epidemic. Together they confront Christian persecution, uncover buried secrets, and witness the beginnings of a medical revolution, but they fear Roman wrath will separate them forever. Will Lisbeth save the man she loves and the family she longs for—or will their separate worlds pull them apart forever?

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