A Reluctant Queen, Love Story Series #2   -     By: Joan Wolf
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A Reluctant Queen, Love Story Series #2

Thomas Nelson / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

An inspiring re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love.

View the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.38 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1595548769
ISBN-13: 9781595548764
Availability: In Stock
Series: Love Story

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Publisher's Description

You've read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story.

She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart.

Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history.

The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

"Joan Wolf never fails to deliver the best!" -Nora Roberts

Author Bio


"With romance, wonderful characterizations, historically based accounts of the ancient Jewish and Persian cultures, and an amazing ending, this excellent read will be a hard-to-put-down winner for historical romance fans." - CBA Retailers and Resources

Wolf's latest gives readers a wonderful glimpse into the life of Queen Esther. Readers will enjoy getting to know her as a woman beset with political ambition and family rivalries. While this novel doesn’t completely follow the biblical story, readers will still enjoy this Cinderella tale come to life. - 4 stars, Romantic Times


She was an ordinary Jewish maiden. Her beauty made her a queen of an empire. Her courage made her a savior of her people. She was Esther, and Joan Wolf tells her story in A Reluctant Queen. Of course, Wolf has to use her imagination to flesh out the story, but she basically follows the book of Esther. However, she does make some changes.

Esther, a young Jewish maiden who lives with her Uncle Mordecai, dreams of marrying her best friend's brother. However, following a vivid and frightening dream that Mordecai has that he believes is from the Lord, the Jewish elders, including Uncle Mordecai, ask her to be their emissary to King Ahasuerus by becoming a candidate for queen. Only maidens from Ahasuerus’s tribe will be considered, but because Esther's father was a soldier from that tribe, Esther qualifies.

When Mordecai takes her into the harem, Esther believes that she will be rejected quickly because she is so different than the other candidates and will be allowed to return home. To her surprise, that is what interests Ahasuerus in her. After their marriage, Esther finds herself falling in love with Ahasuerus and fearful that he will discover that she is Jewish and has lied to him. The king falls in love with Esther, too.

The amount of time that the king spends with Esther makes Haman, one of his trusted advisers, jealous. He also resents Mordecai because Mordecai will not bow to him. When Ahasuerus is away, Haman arrests Mordecai and plans his death, as well as the destruction of all Jews using his power as prime minister. Only Esther's intervention prevents Mordecai's death before the king's return.

Wolf's novel is engrossing, her characters well drawn, but some of its departures from Scripture trouble me. Wolf has Esther discover that Mordecai lied to her about her Gentile grandfather. She also equates Mordecai's not bowing with provocation of Haman. Esther also sympathizes with her maid and eunuch who engage in sexual relations:

"At that, Esther's heart swelled with compassion. She held out both hands and took Luara's into a strong grip. 'Of course I am not angry. How could you think I would begrudge either of you whatever happiness you might find in this prisoner’s life you lead?'" (pp. 182-183).

Is this attitude consistent with a Jewish woman of that time period? This scene does not need to be in the book. It has no integral part in the plot. Is this message of excusing sexual sin because of the situation one we want to pass on to teenaged girls who might read the story?

Another inconsistency is Esther's condoning her children worshipping a false god:

"She would be the wife that Ahasuerus wanted and her children would be brought up as followers of Ahuramazda (a false god worshipped by Ahasuerus). Her duty to her people was done" (p. 315).

Wolf's story is compelling and enjoyable, but her messages trouble me as inconsistent with scripture, not because she changes time elements and history, but because she represents a man whom the Bible portrays as godly as a liar, justifies sin, and shows little concern for the eternal souls of Esther's children. Debbie W. Wilson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

Historical fiction writer Wolf (The Road to Avalon) has turned the biblical Book of Esther, read in synagogues on the merrymaking festival of Purim, into a novel. She maintains most of the story's primary elements but rearranges them, invents a bit, and changes several attributes of the characters. The hero, Mordecai, appears as Esther's uncle rather than her cousin, as he was in the original biblical tale. More importantly, she reimagines King Ahasuerus, who was originally based on the historical Xerxes, son of Darius and grandson of Cyrus the Great, and makes him the fictional praiseworthy character. The real Xerxes was actually arbitrary and brutal. In Wolf's novel, he plays a minor role as Ahasuerus's brother. Some things don't change. The villain, Haman, who is booed and jeered when his name is mentioned in synagogue readings, is just as nasty a person in the novel as he is in the biblical story. In both, he receives his just desserts. Wolf has succeeded in tidying up the biblical account, reconstructing its people and events while preserving its essential elements and producing an attractive love story. Readers can decide for themselves which version they prefer. (June) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

Product Reviews

4.1 Stars Out Of 5
4.1 out of 5
4.3 out Of 5
(4.3 out of 5)
4.4 out Of 5
(4.4 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Displaying items 1-5 of 47
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  1. North Carolina
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    This is a fantastic fictional account of Esther!
    February 11, 2014
    A Simply Enchanted Life
    North Carolina
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Wow! This book...

    Where do I start? I guess I'll start with the cover. It is so gorgeous that it made me want to read the book.

    The story—one of the best I've read so far about a bible character. I couldn't put this book down. Of course I knew that Esther would be queen but I sat on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the king would respond to her.

    I'm not one to use made up words but this time I have to because anything less than fantabulous can't be used to describe this book!!!
  2. Summerfield, FL
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    December 21, 2013
    Summerfield, FL
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Esther is a simple girl; an orphan alone in the world with her uncle Mordecai as guardian, and raised in Jewish faith and traditions. One day, Mordecai has a dream that will change Esther's life forever - he dreams of the complete annihilation of the Jewish people. A solution to the problem comes in the form of the current king of Persia; King Ahasuerus.

    When King Ahasuerus puts away Queen Vashti for refusing to appear at a feast, he is on the hunt for a new wife. Woman after woman is paraded in front of him, but no Persian woman catches his eye. Esther enters as a candidate soon after her uncle's dream, hoping the king won't even give her a second glance. She was wrong. Shortly after making her his queen, she is faced with an impossible choice that will forever change history. Save her people, or preserve the love that has blossomed between Ahasuerus and herself. Will telling him she is a Jew forever destroy any love the king has for her? Or will she be executed along with the rest of her people?

    As usual, it's the little things that distract me from the bigger picture. The book was very good. I can't deny I laughed a couple times. But Mordecai calling his niece "chicken" was an abrupt and rude awakening to the Biblical time setting and brought the flow of the story to a halt. While the nickname is cute, it just doesn't fit with the time period. It somewhat disruptive to the story as a whole, though thankfully, there is a nice chunk of time where they don't see each other and it is absent from the text. As a whole, the story was entertaining and the love story between Esther and the king was a very satisfying read.
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    "A Reluctant Queen" by Joan Wolf
    September 30, 2013
    Miriam Jacob
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "A Reluctant Queen" by Joan Wolf is the compelling, real-life story of Queen Esther of Persia who, when faced with an impossible choice, did not falter in her faith or flinch in her resolve. In a beautifully drawn portrait, described well with great sensitivity and perception, Joan Wolf presents Queen Esther exactly as she should be known by successive generations of Christians across the centuries.

    Queen Esther's heart must have skipped a beat when Mordecai, her elder cousin, who had raised her up as his own daughter, requested her to speak to King Ahasuerus to save the lives of her people. She had not seen the King for a whole month. The law stated that anyone who approached the King in the inner court, without being summoned, faced instant death. The only exception was that the King could extend his gold scepter to save the person's life.

    When Queen Esther apprised Mordecai of this alarming scenario, his response was noteworthy. If she did not speak up for her people, someone else would and her life and that of her paternal family would perish. His next words were utterly symbolic - "Who knows whether you have come to the throne for such a time as this?"

    Queen Esther was fully aware of the dire implications and possible consequences of her actions when she requested Mordecai to tell the people to fast and pray for three days, along with her, after which she would speak to the King, even if it was against the law of the land. She was fully prepared to place her own life of the line to save the lives of her people. Her last words to Mordecai were chilling proof of this - "And if I perish, I perish." Haunting words from a newly-crowned Queen in the full bloom of her youth.

    In "A Reluctant Queen," Joan Wolf transforms a Biblical tale of courage and bravery into a heart-stirring love story in which Esther, a simple girl, faced with a daunting task and an impossible choice won the heart of the magnificient King Ahasuerus of Persia. Their love altered the course of history. It was a divine surprise that God sprung upon the world.

    Joan Wolf brings Queen Esther to life in this beautifully inspired novel that scintillatingly vibrates with the elements of mystery, intrigue and romance in the exotic setting of the Persian empire.

    © Miriam Jacob
  4. Fort Smith, AR
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Exceeded expectations!
    July 10, 2013
    Fort Smith, AR
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Knowing this story from Sunday school, I had my ideas of how the story would transform. This gave a more in depth look of how things might have been during that time. I literally could not put it down! Loved it!
  5. Harrisville, NY
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Excellent Book
    July 9, 2013
    Harrisville, NY
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    excellent book. loved it.

    If you love romance books, this is a winner.

    I loved reading the stories in the Bible. This book, and others I have discovered based on Bible characters and stories, re-introduce the Biblical characters and refreshes our minds of the truths and Godly beliefs and morals that God laid out for us to follow. I loved this story. It just makes you want to be there.
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