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Patience, God said. Well, patience was wearing thin. Michael wiped the blood off his lip. "I'll give you a ride to the road." He walked to his horse.
Angel stood, mouth ajar. He glanced back at her. She lifted her chin but didn't move. "You want a ride or not?" Michael said.
She went to him. "So, you've finally come to your senses."
He lifted her to the saddle and then swung up behind her. When he reached the road, he took her arm and slid her off the horse. She stood looking up at him, bemused. He unlooped the canteen and tossed it to her. She caught it against her chest. He took the shoes out of his coat pocket and dropped them at her feet.
"That way is Pair-a-Dice", he said. "It's thirty miles, uphill all the way, and Magowan and the Duchess are waiting for you at the end of it." He nodded in the opposite direction. "That way is home. One mile downhill, fire and food and me. But you'd better understand something right now. If you come back, we're picking up where we left off last night, and we're still playing by my rules."
He left her standing in the middle of the road.
Author: Francine Rivers
Synopsis: To retell the story of Hosea and Gomer in nineteenth-century America, Rivers creates Angel, a high-priced prostitute, and Michael Hosea, the pioneer who feels led by God to marry her. The tale covers Angel's life from her sale into prostitution at age eight through her final repentant return to her husband.
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I always cry when Jonathan Axle tells his wife what he heard Angel singing in the brothel. But I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet.
Though the story gives a more imaginative than historically attested presentation of how God might speak to an individual, I find it moving. Anyone familiar with the concepts of repentance and relationship with God will see the analogy working over and over again.
Michael Hosea ranks pretty high in the great-fictional-heroes department. It is the strong, self-controlled, self-effacing, faithfully loving thing that makes the man. And don't tell me they don't exist. I married one.
It is also nice to read a book in which a Catholic priest, however minor his role, does not turn out to be a villain.