Whispered secrets about her parents’ past take on new urgency for Chariline as she pays one last visit to the land of her forefathers, the ancient kingdom of Cush.
Raised as an orphan by her aunt, Chariline has only been told a few pieces of her parents’ tragic love story. Her beautiful dark skin is proof that her father was Cushite, but she knows nothing else. While visiting her grandfather before his retirement as the Roman official in the queen’s court, Chariline overhears that her father is still alive, and discovering his identity becomes her obsession. Both her grandfather and the queen have reasons for keeping this secret, however, and forbid her quest. So when her only clues lead to Rome, Chariline sneaks on the ship of a merchant trusted by friends.
Theo is shocked to discover a stowaway on board his vessel and determines to be rid of her as soon as possible. But drawn in by Chariline’s story, he feels honor-bound to see her safely to shore, especially when it appears someone may be willing to kill for the truth she seeks.
In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters—including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.
I enjoyed reading Jewel of the Nile and learning more about life during the era of Acts and the early church. I like learning about history through reading fiction, and I loved journeying with the characters in this story.
Chariline’s mother died while birthing her, and Chariline was told she was an orphan. Her mother’s family were Roman, but her complexion revealed her Cushite heritage from her father. Chariline was raised by her widowed aunt and, over the years, they spent time with her grandparents in Cush where her grandfather was a high ranking Roman official.
Chariline has a strong faith, and she can’t shake her yearning and desire to learn more about her father’s identity and the truth behind her parents brief marriage. When clues are revealed and she’s provided with a lead in Rome, Chariline’s desperation drives her to throw caution and commonsense out the window. She formulates a crazy plan to stowaway on a merchant boat that is due to leave Cush and head north along the Nile toward Corinth.
Theo is stunned to discover the beautiful girl he met in Cush is hiding away on his boat. His faith and strong sense of responsibility and integrity demands he takes care of Chariline and provides safe passage to Rome. Danger is lurking and Chariline’s life is being threatened by an unknown assailant with unknown motives. The mystery unfolds and an unexpected romance develops as illness and danger draw Theo and Chariline closer together.
I loved journeying with Chariline and Theo and the cast of characters that included familiar names from the book of Acts. The mystery was engaging and I wanted Chariline to discover the truth and piece together the puzzle of her past. The satisfying resolution to the mystery and the ending of the story put a smile on my face. I highly recommend Jewel of the Nile for readers who enjoy Biblical fiction and learning more about first century life in the Roman Empire.
I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. Many thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley.