Ted Dekker has created another thrilling novel that brings God's love for his people to life in vivid colors that will forever stain his readers' hearts.
Toma Nicolescu is a servant of Her Majesty, the empress of Russia, Catherine the Great, living in 18th-century Russia. He is a war hero, acclaimed throughout the land for being able to dispatch of any human foe. He and his servant Alek are sent on a special mission to Moldavia (today modern Romania) to watch guard over the Cantemir twins, beautiful Lucine and Natasha. His mission is to watch them but stay away from them, for they are notorious for seducing young men and spitting them out. The Empress wants her soldiers to remain protective but professional. Toma has taken a vow that he will not love either lady.
Lucine and Natasha are beauties, but Natasha is the passionate seductress type who lives for pleasure. Lucine is the sensible one who carries herself with dignity and hasn't allowed herself to get involved with any man since an affair which ended in a scorned lover and a miscarriage. But love does blossom between Toma and Lucine, although neither will admit it. Although they are highly attracted to one another, Lucine refuses to give her heart to a man that won't woo her and Toma is too proud to disclose his ever growing feelings for her.
Then, the catalyst enters the picture in the form of a Russian noble, Vlad van Valerik. He has his eye on Lucine, of course. Although she despises him, she can't keep herself from feeling drawn to his passionate embrace of life, which Toma refuses due to his station. Out of spite for Toma, she allows herself to be seduced by this dark man, who has his own plan in mind for Lucine.
On the outside, this is a historical romance. Toma is drunk on his love for Lucine but can't admit it, even to himself. The visiting Russian nobles, lead by van Valerik, appear to embrace the hedonistic lifestyle. But they are also supernatural beasts who have been turned into instruments of evil against their will. This is a novel of passion, love, romance, daring, boldness, and seduction. But it’s also a novel about pure, unselfish love.
In his desperation, Toma searches for how he can show Lucine how he truly loves her. In the beginning, he loves her beauty, but another form of love burns in his heart for her, one based on actions, rather than feelings. In order to win Lucine's heart away from the lustful Vlad, he must look for a higher love. In finding it, he and we the readers discover the purity of God's love for us.
Dekker fans will find the same author who has brought them The Circle Trilogy revealed by great storytelling, well-painted characters, and redemptive love. There is also a mention of the Nephilim or Shataiki, which will be familiar to Dekker's fans, as well as "the disease" (or Horde). We also get to see the passion play re-enacted by our lead character, just as Thomas Hunter did in the Circle Trilogy. But Dekker adds the passion of a romance writer to his resume. Dekker holds nothing back. Readers will be swept away by the seductive scenes, blush-worthy for sure. And why shouldn't they be? God's story for us is an ultimate love story. He is passionate for us. He woos us like a lover, so let yourself be wooed in this story. Content-wise, it does get a little scary. The visiting Russians turn out to be evil incarnate, so Vlad's love turns evil and monstrous.