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Review--Bound and Determined

Title: Bound and Determined

Series: Daughters of the Seven Seas (Book 3)

Author: Grace A. Johnson

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars

Overview: Wow. What a magnificent monster of a book.

No really, it's a monster. With over 200,000 words and about 750 pages, this is a story of epic proportions. It tackles deep, hard themes with oodles of grace, delving into uncomfortable territory but never leaving us without hope. Most importantly, it shines the light of Christ into the deepest of darkness, reminding us that no sin is too great for God to overcome.

Characters: There are a lot of POVs in this book, with new heroine Daisy Sharrow sharing center stage with the much-loved Rina Bennett from the earlier books in the series. Daisy is such a beautifully conflicted protagonist, with many gaping flaws made all the more heartbreaking by her sweet spirit. She is so very, uncomfortably human.

Rina is still Rina, trying to carry the weight of the world in addition to her twin toddlers. She undergoes some great character growth (or is it character regression?) in this book, wrestling with some tough topics. She's always been such a fun character, and this book is no different!

Keaton Clarke, Rina's quartermaster, is the hero in this book, and what a hero he is! He too is terribly flawed but so lovable and kind and generally just a solid guy. I had mixed feelings about him coming into this one (if you've read Prisoner at Heart, you'll understand), but he quickly swept my doubts aside and took his place among the ranks of my favorite male protagonists.

(Also, as a side note, I think we need a book about Julius. Pretty please?)

Content: Ah. The content. This will be fun...

This is a romance, so naturally, there is romance. A lot of it. And couple that with the fact that the heroine has just escaped prostitution, and you get... well, some interesting situations.

Because the author is too good at her craft to write about an ex-prostitute and just brush aside the implications of that. Selling herself to the next man who comes along is the only life Daisy's known for years. She's free of it now, but she doesn't know how to live without it. That comes up a lot in the story, especially early on. Her thoughts travel down immoral trails (she sometimes tries to stop them, sometimes not), and she attempts seduction a couple of times (though nothing happens).

There are lots of kisses, most going into lots of detail. These characters are all pretty morally grey, so they tend to put themselves into situations that are... questionable at best. (But let me add here that Johnson does a fantastic job of showing what the characters do without lauding their actions. She's writing a story about sinful people, but that does not at all mean she approves of their behavior or expects her readers to.)

Honestly, it's an uncomfy read, and I think that's the point. None of these situations are ones we want to be in. But it is reality, and we have to recognize how desperately wicked we are before we can truly understand how great God's grace towards us is. All the uncomfortable content in this book is there for this purpose: not to linger on our depravity, but to point us to the God who stands ready to save us from it.

In terms of other content, there's some violence, with ships blowing each other up (in true Pirates of the Caribbean style), people getting into fights, and the like. A character drowned in the past. A character dreams of being hanged. During a time of deep depression, a character briefly considers self-harm and suicide (but instantly shoves those thoughts away as ungodly).

Slavery plays a big part in this story, both sex-slavery and the enslavement of Africans.

Two unmarried characters conceive a child (which makes everyone around them frightfully angry). It's implied that married couples do married-couple things.

In a particularly tough sequence, a character has a miscarriage. This is described in fairly graphic terms and might be triggering to those who have experienced this.

Writing: Johnson's skill has skyrocketed since her last installment in this series. She's become the author we always knew she could be, weaving an ugly, powerful tale of how God steps into the hideous muck of our lives and pulls us out when we cry to Him for help. This book is massive, but it never feels too long. Every scene deserves to be here. Every theme has earned its place. It's a magnificent story that points so beautifully to God!

Summary: This is not an easy book, and that's not just because of the 750 pages. You will be uncomfortable as you read it. Some parts might even make you a bit sick. But like the story of the two harlot sisters in Ezekiel 23, this is at its heart a parable. It's a story of how we can never live up to God's perfect standard. It's a story of how we ruin our lives by our own decisions.

It's a story of how God loves us anyway.

So if you can handle it, read it. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to anyone younger than 18, but it truly is a fantastic story.

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1 comentario

Saraina Whitney
Saraina Whitney
01 sept 2023

Wow, this is an amazing review!!! 💖

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