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Nov 29, 2012

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

Compelling tear jerker conclusion to a fantastic story!

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser (Secrets of the Cross Book #3)
David C Cook September 2012
Inspirational Fiction/romance
Review copy from several publisher sources ;) Thank you
Burton Book Review Rating: Favorite of Epic Favorites!

The Secrets of the Cross Trilogy by acclaimed author Elizabeth Musser, already a European bestseller, concludes with the American debut of Two Destinies, a story of forbidden love, passionate faith, danger, and intrigue. 
Now 1994, France faces unrest and rising poverty while neighbor Algeria is in the midst of a blood civil war. Risléne Namani, a French woman born to Algerian parents, converts to Christianity and falls in love with Eric Hoffmann, a Christian, committing the unpardonable sin in the eyes of her Muslim family. Eric must find a way to rescue her—from a forced marriage in Algeria, or even death. A powerful, relevant tale of social struggle, heartache, cultural conflict, and faith put to the ultimate test.
Read my previous review of books one and two

What a fabulous series (dabs eyes that it's over). There is so much packed into this, from multiple religious issues and faith questions, to the bonds of family through love, loss, grief, the promise of hope. And as this is book three in the trilogy, you absolutely MUST read the first two books in the series. The story flows fluidly from one novel to the next, there will not be an explanation of the character's or Algerian histories as it is assumed you have read the first two novels.

As expected with the descriptive names of previous titles of Two Crosses and Two Testaments in this Secrets of the Cross series, it is heavily centered around God and Allah and how the author's characters perceive Him. There is an abundance of tension that leads to warfare, and the next generation is still dealing with this in Two Destinies. Risléne is from a strict Muslim family, but has secretly converted to the Protestant faith and finds herself in love with Eric. Eric is the grown son of the previous characters of the prior books; there is quite a jump in the time line, but it still flows effortlessly as the story continues to enthrall Musser's fans. When Risléne's family discovers her ultimate deception and her family betrayal, they lead her through the dangerous areas of France just to keep her away from the Protestants. And now Eric MUST find her, or she will be married off to a Muslim and gone forever. Ophélie is back, and Samuel Cebrian, and even though there was a jump in time from book two to book three, we easily slide back into the frame of minds of all of these wonderful characters. But the story focuses on Ophélie and Sam, and Risléne and Eric as they try and discover their destinies.

Concurrent stories bleed through, some snippets from earlier unresolved story lines, and some new ones that keep us hoping there has to be something better for all of these many unforgettable characters. I would love to add some gushy mushy professional sounding critical statement about why you should read these books, but then again, given the religion-related content which includes terrorism, extremists, Islam and Christianity, I know that these novels may not be the first choice for you. If you are at all interested in learning of religious conflict while being captivated by a powerful web of characters who are fighting on multiple fronts, this is the trilogy for you.

I admit when I was offered the first two for review I was dismayed at the hugeness of the ugly galley things I had received, but once I dug in I was hooked by the theme of  love for God and the brutality of opposing terrorist forces. Book one, book two, and now book three which takes us generations through the sixties and nineties relays a story that should be heard. The author has opened up a whole new world for me which includes harkis, pied-noirs, and the turmoil of these characters - life and death - and the fact that this is based on the reality for these's just heavy stuff that I am so glad to have learned about in this compelling fictional telling. Powerful stuff, and a passionate story that I will never forget and will re-read when I get my own hard copies of the series. I've already added several other titles from Elizabeth Musser's work to my personal library based on the fantasticness of this Secrets of the Cross trilogy. Thank you to Mrs. Musser for  providing me with such an amazing reading experience.