About the Book 



Book: Shadow Among Sheaves

Author: Naomi Stephens
 
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction  

Release Date: April, 2019  

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz
 
The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.
 
Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.
 
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About the Author


Naomi Stephens is a bookworm turned teacher turned writer. She received a M.A. in English from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and now lives in Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a rascal of a dog named Sherlock.

More from Naomi

 

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz
 
The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.
 
Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own. Which will he choose? Find out in Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens.
 
Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Shadow Among Sheaves:
 
She smiled, stepping closer and placing her hand on the horse’s wet snout. Samson was a pretty beast with wide, ponderous eyes and a few splotches of gray around his nose. The soft puff of air Samson snorted into her palm brought a delighted smile to her lips, and she gasped as he bowed his neck to nuzzle his nose against her stomach. She felt her smile leap into a grin. It was a delightful change, to feel joy so deep it finally showed.
 
Barric circled around Samson to stand beside her, his hands never leaving the reins. “He’s fond of you,” he remarked as Samson dropped his snout against her hip.
 
“Unsurprising, I suppose. Though he could also be searching you for a carrot.”
 
Surprised to hear Lord Barric speak so teasingly, and pleased by the gentle light she found in his otherwise tired eyes, Rena laughed her faint agreement. “That will teach me to come empty-handed, won’t it?”
 
Their smiles both dropped as a young, lanky stable hand came rushing out to take Samson, and Barric relinquished his hold on the reins, nodding his silent thanks.
 
As soon as the stable boy had disappeared with Samson, Barric glanced back at Rena. “Are you going home?” he asked, nodding toward the dusty road looping down the hill to William’s house.
 
She stepped back, realizing she had dawdled longer than she’d first intended. “Yes,” she answered. “I often come this way to avoid the other workers.”
 
“Might I walk with you?” He turned to hang his whip on a peg. “Just a short stretch of the road?”
 
Stunned by his request, and a bit suspicious of his motive, she nonetheless nodded. “Yes, of course.”
 
Barric drew up beside her, his even strides betraying no unease, though he was silent for some time as they made their way down the golden-colored hill.
 
“You have seemed tired these past few days,” he observed. Rena did not bother to deny it. She’d been working hard to keep up with the others, as Barric had told her she must, and felt wearier for it. She had tried to split her days in half, the mornings spent binding sheaves with the women and the afternoons spent picking for her own stores, but the work was backbreaking, and, as he had already pointed out once before, she was not used to hard labor. “I realize I haven’t really asked you how you are settling in,” he went on.
 
“Perhaps you’ve been too busy provoking me,” she answered before she could stop herself.
 
Barric’s eyebrow inched up as he slanted an approving smirk down at her. “Perhaps.”
 
Rena cursed her honest tongue. She must have been more tired than she thought, to speak so freely to a man of title. “I have been well,” she tried again, a bit more diplomatically. “The house suits us, if that is what you are asking.” “The people here do not speak to you unkindly?”
 
“The people do not speak to me at all.” She had meant to sound casual, unaffected, but heard the hurt in her own voice she hadn’t been able to weed out. As Barric’s expression tightened, she hastened to amend, “Except for you, my lord. Of course. And the Wilmots.”
 
“They are good people,” he agreed quietly. “And will you be coming with them to the festival this evening?”
 
She hesitated. According to Alice, harvest home was a yearly tradition, a night of raucous drinking and dancing to celebrate the close of the harvest. All of Abbotsville would be there—landowners, stewards, even tenant farmers and common laborers. But Rena was none of those things, and she and Barric both knew it.
 
“Come,” Barric teased, “do not tell me you are afraid to go. I would never have thought it of you.” “I am not afraid,” she insisted. “I just had not thought about it.”
 
At her defensive tone, he smiled—a true smile—one that pinched the corners of his eyes and pressed grooves along the outer edges of his mouth. “You ought to come,” he decided. “Everyone in Abbotsville is welcome, and many are the men who would feel lucky to dance with you.”
 
But, of course, Lord Barric knew this was not true. The men in his fields regarded her mostly with contempt and made no secret of it— they would not count themselves at all lucky to dance with her. Was Lord Barric trying to offer her words of comfort? Or was he trying to convey a message?
 
Did he want to dance with her?
 
This was hardly a safe question, and so she asked another. “Do you dance, Lord Barric?”
 
When he met her gaze, so direct, she was all the more glad she had not stammered in her reply. The man walked a dangerous line whenever he deigned to speak to her. Far too close, she’d think, and then stern enough to cool her blood with a word.
 
He surprised her with another smile, this one a faint twist at the corner of his lips. “Perhaps you would have to come to find out.”

My Review


Naomi Stephens’ debut novel, “Shadow Among Sheaves”, is every bit as poetic and brooding as its title. This is certainly an author whose work I will be following! Expecting a gentle love story and perhaps some sappy sentimentality, I was utterly surprised to discover quite the opposite. I am familiar with the poignant Biblical story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz and think of it as a stirring example of loyalty and love. However, I have never really considered it more deeply—until now. Stephens taps into one of the main reasons that I love Biblical fiction and retellings: it causes me to explore beneath the surface of the story and to consider the characters in depth and in the context of their historical and social situations. “Shadow Among Sheaves” does just that, focusing on the sacrifice and hardship facing two widows now seemingly alone in the world.

 From the start, this historical retelling made me uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory, which enabled me to learn new information about England in the 1860s and to empathize with a new character set. The somber tone of the novel never felt too oppressive, as Stephens interjects some relief just when it is most needed without detracting from the gravity of the tale. Culture and religion collide in the aftermath of the Great Indian Rebellion of 1857, and Rena Hawley is caught in the middle. Following an impromptu marriage to a British soldier in her native India, her husband’s and father-in-law’s unexpected deaths cast shadows on Rena’s future, even as she determines to follow her mother-in-law, Nell, to England. There her identity is further obfuscated by prejudice and xenophobia: “In India, she was her father’s daughter, beloved and shrouded; here she was bruised, a worthless girl with foreign eyes whose only wealth was in the abundance of her own grief.”

This eye-opening allegory paints a sobering portrait of life as a foreigner and a destitute widow. Rena is a fascinating character because of her complexity. She is confused by English customs, and I appreciated how Stephens presented the Indian way of life with respect, despite how barbaric some aspects of it sound to our modern sensibilities. This paved the way for a better understanding of the difficulties Rena faces in trying to reconcile her old life with the new one she has chosen. Furthermore, Rena is not depicted as a moral paragon. She struggles and clings to the past, rejecting the faith of both her mother-in-law and former husband, which ultimately makes her journey all the sweeter. The same can be said of Lord Barric. His gruff exterior also serves as a shield against pain and grief, and the impact of his initial encounter with Rena creates a ripple effect that influences both of their reputations and their futures. Impressive secondary characters add to the moving panoply. For anyone on their own journey out of darkness, or who enjoys a though-provoking historical romance and redemption story, “Shadow Among Sheaves” is a must read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.

Blog Stops

 

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Texas Book-aholic, May 12

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For the Love of Literature, May 13

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Naomi is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a finished paperback copy of Shadow Among Sheaves!!
 
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/deb9/shadow-among-sheaves-celebration-tour-giveaway