April 1, 2014

Ari

Nancy here, hero girls and I know I'm a little late with this feature but Ari is worth waiting for. What you should know about this hero and this book is if you enjoy biblical fiction, and/or category romance, you want to make sure you grab a copy of this one. If you're not usually into either of those things, you might want to give this one a try. Ari will make it worth it. Handsome, protective warrior priest hotness aside (seriously, I don't know how anyone could put that part aside, but if you can) this was a great story by itself. Let's dive in and take a closer look at Ari.




About The Guardian's Promise (released March 1, 2014):

A Kingdom in Jeopardy.

An evil queen and her royal guards will stop at nothing to find—and kill—the rightful heir to the throne of Judah. When their pursuit leads them to Mira's village, only her father's bond servant, Ari, a man shrouded in secrets, can keep Mira safe.

Abandoning his life as a temple guard and becoming an indentured servant was the only way Ari could protect young Joash, the true King of Judah, from Queen Athaliah. But his sacred duty prevents him from confessing his feelings for his master's daughter. With the future of their nation on the line, Ari and Mira will risk everything to save their people.

Excerpt from The Guardian's Promise:


          Instinct told him to rush into the hidden cove and wrap his arms around Mira, to fuse her so deep inside his soul that he’d never have to worry over her well-being again.
          Instead, he tamped down his urges with steely self-control. The fear that had prodded him to race the distance from Caleb’s house refused to be soothed. He continued to shake. No matter what he’d heard with his very ears, no matter that he’d felt Mira’s presence, he still continued to shake.
          “They are safe. They are safe,” he chanted to himself. “Thank you, Lord.”
          Ari breathed deeply, and then exhaled. One step. Two. Three, and then four. One long stride and he exited the long pathway and stood inside the entrance to the cove. He gazed with awe at this proud woman prostrate before her young king. No wonder Joash sounded bewildered. Even he had no idea who he really was.
          A ray of light filtered through the windows carved hundreds of years ago. The light illuminated her beauty as locks of unveiled burnished gold cloaked her frame and Joash’s feet. It reminded him of the first time he’d seen her.
          “Mira, I beg of thee, rise,” the child’s voice quavered, then as if he had just become aware of Ari’s presence, Joash turned his dark, frightened gaze to him.
          “Ari, you came! I knew you would.” Joash ran to him, leaving Mira where she knelt. The child propelled his small body into Ari’s thighs and wrapped his arms around his legs. Ari lifted him in his arms and hugged him tight, but not once had he taken his eyes from Mira.
          “Did you, now?” Ari asked.
          “Yes, of course, Ari. You promised, remember?”
          He smiled at the boy and dropped a kiss to his head and then set him on his feet. Joash shifted his gaze between Ari and Mira. He shuffled his feet as if he were about to be chastised. At last, Mira turned her head and peered through the tresses hanging around her. Ari grinned as he ruffled Joash’s unruly mop of curls. Mira rose to her knees and pushed back her hair.
          “I know I should not have shown Mira the ring, but I wanted to ease her worries.”
          A hearty laughter burst from Ari’s gut as he took in the wariness and shock on her face. “And did you?”
          Joash stared at Mira for a few long seconds before he answered. “I do not think so, Ari.”
          He laughed once again. “No, I do not believe you did either, my young friend.”
          “Will you forgive me?” Joash said with genuine concern. “I know I was not to show anyone the map or the ring, but—” Joash dropped his gaze to the floor.
          Ari hugged him closer. “There is naught to forgive. You did as you thought necessary.” His eyes fell upon Mira. “Rise, Mira, before your knees become sore.”

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.


Gallant Score

If Ari were alive about 1200 years later, he would have been a knight. So much of his gallantry is tied up on polar ends of sacrifice. From giving up his rights and role as a temple priest to be the secret body guard of the heir to the throne of Judah, to having to do so as a bondservant no less, and then being a great one at that. So Ari had a gallantry score rocking orange, and that's way before we even get to how he respects and cares for Mira. There are some moments in battle, and in quiet solitude, where the reader will really get to see this aspect of his character leap off the page.


Wounded Score

Ari saw some things no one should have to see when God used him and a few others to smuggle young Joash out of Jerusalem when the bad queen went on her killing spree to begin her reign of terror. What's worse is that Ari struggles with what he could have done differently and the constant burden of placing those around him and the young king in danger. A danger that all, including Mira, are unaware of.


Softie Score

For as physically, mentally, and spiritually strong and well, game on all the time, that Ari is, I loved that he is really a softie. Even more so that he doesn't really feel the need to hide it. When he's interacting with young Joash like in the excerpt, gently helping Mira, even when that means forcing her to sit down, eat and rest, in a playful but perfectly serious way, hero girls like me will just feel your heart squeeze.


Stupid Strikes

Nope. Nothing even remotely close. I want to take a minute here to impart to you that Ari is everything you want a warrior priest child body guard in love with the master's daughter hero to be, and is perfectly believable the entire time. A little vulnerable, a little wrecked by the lying that is REQUIRED to guard the life of the future king of Judah but against everything he was taught, but never, ever anything that deserves a stupid strike.

Swoon Score

Yes. Um, I did mention delightfully loveable, warrior priest, protector of the last of the line of King David and rightful heir to the throne of Judah, yes? Oh and just so you know, I was both pleasantly surprised (and happy!!!) that for a Love Inspired title that was biblical fiction, Ari and Mira sure seem to kiss a lot, LOL. :-p And almost kiss. Oh you gotta love a great almost kiss. (Staring out over the land from the side of the mountain anyone? Or post battle in the caves? ;-) But it wasn't just that. Ari just owned me from pretty much the first chapter, and reminded me it is heroes like him that make the blog worth while. Be sure you pick up this one, hero girls. It might just change everything you think you know about biblical fiction, and category romance.


Born and raised in Kansas, where she currently lives with her husband and children, Christina loves to read stories with happily ever afters, research,  take photos, knit scarves, dig into her ancestry, fish, visit the ocean, write stories with happily ever afters and talk about her family and Jesus.Her debut novel, The Guardian’s Promise, released from Love Inspired March 2014.

http://threefoldstrand.com/

The FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author

Nancy here, hero-girls and OH I just LOVE when we get a deleted scene!!! Here is a bit from Christina she is sharing with us. Even though it was a hard moment for Ari and Mira both, I really enjoyed how Ari's wit and sense of humor crept in anyway. One of the many reasons I snapped him up for the blog.



“Do not move.” An angel with a gentle touch to his shoulder prodded him back to the soft mat of his bedding.  He’d never heard of angels ministering to the dead before, especially one as breathtaking as this one. If only he could tell his brothers and uncles they’d had it all wrong.
“Thir—thirsty.” His tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth.
“Here.” She lifted his head and pressed a cup to his lips.
Cool water glided over his tongue and down his throat. With the same gentleness his mother had used when he was but a boy, she laid his head back down. His mouth and throat begged for his thirst to be quenched. “More. Please?”
She reached for an earthen jug and poured more liquid into the cup. He studied her. Having never seen a celestial being before. His father had claimed all angels were giant, muscular warriors. This angel was no more than sheep fluff with a halo of dark, auburn tresses, and female. Her wide almond shaped eyes brought him comfort. Her touch soothed.
Perhaps he was in Abrahm’s Bosom after all. He shifted his weight. A hot poker shot into his leg and singed him all the way to his lungs. He gasped for air.
The angel spun around. Her eyes wide, she sat the cup down and began running her hands over his injuries. She pulled the covers off his chest and peeled back the bandages. Her sharp hiss and clucking did not bode well. She poked, prodded and replaced them with clean ones, before checking on his leg.
After long tortuous moments of enduring the added pain inflicted upon his body, she pulled the cover to his chin and sat back on her heels. “You should not move. . .”
A roar echoed in his head. Her mouth continued to move. The sound disappeared as if he’d dunked his head in a pool of water after a long battle.
“. . . dead.”
Dead? This he already knew. If only he could understand this afterlife so unlike what the rabbi’s had taught.
She lifted his head once more and brought the cup to his lips. He gazed into her human-like eyes. Her lips moved, muttering something, drawing his attention. She slipped his head back to the mat, sat the cup down and picked up a stringed instrument. The angel curled her feet beneath her and began to strum.
Oil lamps flickered in the night air, illuminating the rich reds and golds on the lyre. She strummed. Her fingers moved with grace but he could not make out the tune. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the muffled notes. Peeling his lids opened, he watched her fingers dance on the strings, his gaze roved to the hand that strummed.
Scarred. Disjointed.
He narrowed his gaze. Flashes of memory came to him. Those fingers had caressed his brow. They had served him water. They had taken up a fiery branch and warded off a vicious pack of dogs.
Fire. There had been fire at the palace, too. Torches held by Queen Athaliah’s guards as they slaughtered her son’s heirs. He recalled the mournful cries of Jerusalem at the loss of King David’s lineage. The loss of God’s covenant.
Where was he now? Was he dead or alive? Where was the babe? He could only hope the child’s nurse had gotten him to safety before the soldiers set upon them.
The angel no longer played her song. He glanced at her mangled hand before his eyes settled on her face. The oil lamps ebbed, casting the curve of her jaw and line of her nose into the shadows. “You cannot be an angel. You are maimed.”
Her gasp cut through the pounding in his head and her eyes widened with the barest of movement before she dipped her chin to her chest. With a shake of her head, she leaned the lyre against the stonewall, and rose from her position. “No, I am not an angel.” She clenched her hands into fists. Her gaze roved over his battered and beaten body. “And neither are you.”

The giveaways

Same drill as always! One copy of The Guardian's Promise, print or e-book (winner’s choice), goes to a randomly drawn commenter. Make sure you tell us if you want in the book drawing and leave an email address in a spam fighting format like: not.who.you.think.i.am (at) swordandscripture dot com

If you have already enjoyed The Guardian's Promise, a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card can be yours if you leave the name of a character from the book in your comment that is not used in the excerpt or description. (And there's plenty! Especially after they reach the caves. ;-) Again, once the character name has been used, you have to find another.

Drawings will be April 14th.

I really want to explore this rare jaunt into biblical fiction. With the Noah movie (love it or hate it, it's brought biblical fiction to the forefront of discussion lately), the Son of God movie, etc. how do you feel about authors incorporating historical biblical characters into their fiction? I want to know. =)
Let's play!

20 comments:

Clari Dees said...

I just spent a fun writing-conference weekend with Christina, and I'm thrilled her debut is on FHF! The Guardian's Promise is in my TBR pile (so don't put me in the drawing), but it just jumped to the very top. :-)

Nancy Kimball said...

Ari earned his spot, so for being the kiss of death as far as where we usually go looking for FHF heroes, (biblical fiction / category romance / debut novels) I am VERY proud of Christina, though I only knew her name from my Seekerville days. YES, I'm glad it got bumped to the top. This is a wonderful story and it really, really got me thinking about everything "off the page" in some of those few verses of history in the Old Testament. Thanks for stopping in, Clari. =)

L. Brannon said...

What a spot on review. I loved this book and the easy, intimate way Christina writes. You can't help but fall in love with Ari's exceptional personality. He is definitely at the top of my fictional heroes list.

Nancy Kimball said...

Thank you, Lira! I agree, Ari surprised me with his depth of character and personality. I'd never encountered a hero quite like him before. Thanks for stopping in. =)

Piper Huguley said...

A wonderful review for a great author. I love this blog Nancy. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to your heroes. :)

Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Piper. I love this blog too. =) The hero girls and Joy sure make it extra fun but it's really the heroes that make me love it. And thank you for that. I will be the little birdie that tells you that you don't want to miss the June 1st post. Joy will be featuring a certain gladiator with a following bigger than mine that day, LOL. ;-)

Christina Rich said...

Oh my goodness! You all are bringing tears to my eyes. You all are so sweet, and you humble me.

Thank you for loving Ari.

Angi said...

Great review, Nancy! I love the excerpt that you posted at the top. Ari's story certainly sounds like something I'd be interested in reading. In reference to your question about authors incorporating Biblical characters into their writing, I don't have a problem with it. I enjoy it when authors use actual historical events or people in their stories. For me, it only enhances the story as well as fueling my desire to know more about what really happened. I'll give you an example. When I was in school, I HATED history! It was so dry and boring, I wanted nothing to do with it. But in the last few years, I've grown to love history, partly due to reading historical fiction. It's like that dry historical desert is being quenched and I owe that quenching to authors who weave real history into their stories, whether it be with characters or events. So THANK YOU to all the authors who take the time to study, research, write, and edit to make your stories real.

Sorry for getting a little carried away! ;)

I'd love to be entered for a hard copy of the book, please!

bookwarp(at)gmail(dot)com

KayM said...

I really enjoy reading Biblical fiction and having the real, historic people a part of the novel adds an extra layer. As long as I know the author did her research and is staying within the time period and other essentials, I think it's great. I would like to be included in the drawing. I would prefer a Kindle eBook, if I win, but I read both.
may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

Natalie Monk said...

I'm so excited about this book! It's sitting on my hope chest in my room, and I'm DYING to start reading it! I'm trying to finish this other one first, but I may just have to read two at a time. :) Let's see. Okay, I opened to a random spot and found the name Esha, which is absolutely beautiful and I think I might steal it someday in the future. :)

Great Hero Feature, Nancy! Can't wait to read YOUR hero! I have a feeling when Jon gets here, he's going to be causing violent fainting spells all over the place. I can't wait.

Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Angi. I loved that excerpt too. I felt it best captured the full flavor of both Ari and the story. I can't imagine you hating history, given all your pictures on facebook! You get carried away any time, girl. This is the place for that!!! We'll get you in the drawing.

Nancy Kimball said...

Kay, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can't stand to purchase a historical novel and then there's so little actual period detail in it it could have taken place at anytime. We'll get you in the drawing also and great to see you stopping in. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

We'll take that, Natalie. =) You kick off the gift card drawing with ESHA.

Thank you and thank you, I can't either. Jonathan certainly has that affect on people, that's for sure. His male readers don't swoon but they sure do cheer him on just as much as the ladies. I'm excited to get to share him with you all soon. If you (or anyone) wants to read about the amazing thing God did with my hero and my cover model, it's at Finding Jonathan

Angi said...

LOL! Oh yes, I definitely hated history, but I think it was the method of teaching that made me hate it so much. Now, if I'd had a history teacher like my Dad (who, btw, loves history), I probably would've liked it more. But, better late than never. :)

Nancy Kimball said...

Amen to that! =) You'll have to tell me what time period is your dad's favorite. =)

barbarahartzler.com said...

Loved this completely thorough review, and what an excerpt! Think I'm gonna have to snatch up one of these books at Walmart. :)

Nancy Kimball said...

Thank you Barbara, and YES, you should I love it when blog visitors/followers just buy it. And it happens a lot, hehe. Thanks for stopping by.

Gretchen E.K. Engel said...

I love Biblical fiction! I also like fictional stories based on Bible stories but set in different worlds or eras. While I like stories from the days of goat skin scrolls, I'm a 21st century girl who likes her e-books.

Nancy Kimball said...

Ooooohhhh, then you want to be sure to pop in on 4/15 for Joy's feature. That's all I can say now. =)

Sara Ella said...

And the winners are...

Angi for a copy of the Guardian's Promise.

Natalie for a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card!

Congratulations! You'll be hearing from me shortly via email.