Shelter Most High
The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.
Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.
As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?
Guest Post from Connilyn Cossette
Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.
So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint, in fact it just went way too fast!
One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).
Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.
One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan and although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.
Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul, and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.
Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.
Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.
Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.
Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.
Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families. I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back!
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Connilyn Cossette is the author of the Out from Egypt Series with Bethany House Publishers. When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kiddos (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn is scribbling notes on scraps of paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Texas where she loves the people but misses mountains, tall trees and barefoot-soft green grass. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into fiction. Connect with her at:
Book Review by Bree Herron
“Every one of them was someone I knew. Someone I loved.”
Shelter of the Most High, the second book from Connilyn Cossette’s Cities of Refuge series, will take readers on a whirlwind adventure of faith and strength through its main character, Sofea. It is a riveting, breathtaking, and moving Biblical novel. One that energized the soul and exhausted the reader who stayed up entirely too late to finish this remarkable story.
Sofea is a strong woman facing challenges many of us would never imagine. She sees loved ones lost. Her heart is conflicted. Her life comes crashing down in one brief moment. Yet her strength rises like the tides of the ocean, causing a wide range of emotion that challenges both heart and mind.
Throughout the novel comes diversity in culture and growth in faith. Language is a major complication for Sofea till she slowly learns how to communicate with Eitan and his family. Eitan is learning to understand his fate and what Yahweh has in store for his future. Little does he know that it includes Sofea.
From worshiping idols to understanding and praising Yahweh, Sofea comes to the realization that sacrifice and faith don’t always walk hand and hand. She learns that faith comes also with love and forgiveness, with healing for those that have been harmed.
This is a breathtaking story. One that is superb in research and guidance for your faith. I found myself transported back in time to a place and era long forgotten. The characters and their personalities will resonate with many and become friends that you will cheer and weep for. Finishing this book was like leaving a favorite place, and I’ll miss it—till the next time I visit.
This review was also featured on Mesu Andrew’s Blog.
**DISCLAIMER: I was provided an opportunity to read this book as an Advanced Reader Copy in return for a fair and honest review.
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To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away
Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts
Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!
Find out all the details and enter to WIN at Shelter of the Most High Celebration Tour Giveaway.
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