A Passionate Hope, by Jill Eileen Smith

Publisher’s Overview:

Can one woman’s prayers change the world?

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love for each other, for their God, and for His tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Will God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed previous Biblical fiction novels by Jill Eileen Smith. I’m part of the launch team for this new release.

My Take:

When reviewing a Biblically-based novel, I find it useful to review what I know about the main character(s). I knew that Hannah was the mother of Samuel, who anointed both Saul and David. I knew she’d been barren for many years, and I knew that she made a vow to God that, if He gave her a child, she would surrender that child back to Him. She also had a vicious sister-wife!

A Passionate Hope had me rethink at least one of my presumptions. Peninnah is essentially the villainess of Hannah’s story, but Jill Eileen Smith made me feel sympathy for her. She was the second wife of a man she loved, and she gave him plenty of children, but Elkanah was never really able to give her what she wanted. In Smith’s account, Peninnah’s deceased father hadn’t been a great father or husband and her mother consistently gave her bad advice. As for Hannah, I can’t imagine what it must’ve felt like to know your husband was sleeping with another woman because she could give him sons when you couldn’t. And how much worse it must’ve been for the wives of the sons of Eli, the priests who couldn’t have cared less about carrying out their duties the way God instructed. Instead of focusing on the responsibilities they’d been given they reveled in the power that resulted from those responsibilities.

Don’t expect a detailed look of the duties of the Levites, the loss of the Ark of the Covenant in battle, or of Samuel as an adult. We get Elkanah’s perspective, but only as it pertains to Hannah and Peninnah. This is a book about the mother of a great Bible figure, in a series about pivotal female figures of the Old Testament. Look at it in that light and I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a fascinating look a woman who struggled to understand God but kept her faith in Him nevertheless.

Thank you to Revell and Jill Eileen Smith for my complimentary copy of A Passionate Hope, which I received for my honest review.

Do you plan to read A Passionate Hope? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 06 February 2018

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Revell’s Website   Jill Eileen Smith’s Website   Shiloh

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com


ICYMI: February 2016 Reviews

Miss any reviews this month? Here they are:

book coverThe Innkeeper of Ivy Hill – Julie Klassen

First in a new series set around a coaching inn in Regency England

book coverAn Uncommon Courtship – Kristi Ann Hunter

Trent Hawthorne’s plans to marry for love go awry in the third of the Hawthorne House series.

book coverThe Angels’ Share – James Markert

Some believed he was the second coming of Christ. William wasn’t so sure. But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.

Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Storybook cover – Jill Eileen Smith

Revisit the Biblical story of Ruth.



Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, by Jill Eileen Smith

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

One devoted woman is about to discover the power of love

When famine visits Bethlehem, some hold out hope for rain, while Naomi and her family make a long journey to Moab in search of greener pastures. The harvest there is plentiful, and for a time it appears the Lord is blessing them. But when calamities strike, one after another, Naomi is left alone in a foreign land with only her widowed daughters-in-law for comfort.

Downhearted and destitute, Naomi is determined to return to Bethlehem alone. But her daughter-in-law Ruth refuses to leave her side. Despite the fact that she and Naomi will almost certainly live out their days in widowhood and poverty, Ruth holds out hope for a better future . . . and maybe even a second chance at love.

First Thoughts:

It’s an honor to review any novel by Jill Eileen Smith. I’ve been highly impressed with many of her previous titles and they’ve often helped me look at the featured Bible story with fresh eyes. I’m hoping for the same with her interpretation of Ruth.

My Take:

Once again, Jill Eileen Smith has taken a well-known Bible story and brought it to life. The story of Ruth begins with her future mother-in-law assisting Boaz’s wife in childbirth. It establishes Naomi as a woman who is familiar with Boaz and his family, placing Boaz as her husband’s cousin and creating a brother-in-law as well to act as the relative closer to Naomi than Boaz.

After reading Redeeming Grace I had to review Ruth’s story for a Bible study. Thanks to this novel, I saw the story with new eyes. We don’t know why she was so willing to leave her home and everything that she knew to go with Naomi. Here, Smith has given her a realistic reason, as well as an interesting theory on how and why Naomi’s sons might’ve died. It was refreshing to see Ruth portrayed as a Moabite, as some authors I’ve read have gone out of their way to ignore this aspect of her character. Ruth was a foreigner, although it’s acknowledged that her people were descended from Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

I found Redeeming Grace difficult to put down. As well as being entertaining, it was also thought provoking. For example, why did God let Naomi’s husband and sons die? Was it punishment for moving away from the Kingdom of Judah? The final paragraphs hint, however, of what was to come from Bethlehem and the line of Boaz and Ruth: the Messiah Himself.

Thank you to Revell and the author for my complimentary copy of Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Redeeming Grace? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 14 February 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Jill Eileen Smith’s Website   Revell’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com