Thursday, October 15, 2015

"refuge of the heart" by ruth logan herne

In Ruth Logan Herne's touching Catholic romance, a hardened district attorney is drawn to a hard working Chechen refugee who longs to give her sister a better life.

District Attorney Mitchell Sanderson wanted for nothing and lost everything in a tragic accident. A dogged worker, Mitch’s conviction rate earned him respect and trust. Now up for re-election, Mitch’s law-and-order persona makes him a shoo-in candidate. But when faith, conscience and love of a troubled refugee ripple the smooth waters of his existence, can Mitch risk everything for love?   

Magdalena Serida fought her way out of the terrors of a government-quelled insurgent uprising in Chechnya. The church-sponsored refugee knows the horrors of war first-hand. Now in America with her five-year-old sister, Lena is uncertain who to trust. Her Christian faith has maintained her through the loss of her family, but when Mitch Sanderson shows interest, Lena longs to take a chance. Should she open herself up to this man of law and order, a man who imprisons women like her? Or slip quietly back into the shadowed fringe of anonymity?  

But choices slip away when Mitch’s friend spews half-truths about Lena, rumors that cost Mitch his new love and possibly the election. Can he find his way to a faith deep enough to love again, and to offer Lena the “Refuge of his Heart”? 

Refuge of the Heart has many facets. It's a sweet romance. It's a family story. And it powerfully brings to light the plight of refugees and challenges the reader to do something. (This book is especially timely in light of the current Syrian refugee crisis.)

I absolutely loved both Lena and her sister Anna. The story of how Lena escaped from Chechnya, which is revealed in small pieces throughout the novel before being completely explained in a climactic scene, is both inspiring and heartbreaking. I'll admit that I haven't spent much time thinking about refugees and how I can help them, and this book was a wake up call in that regard. Beyond that, Lena is simply a likable character! She's so tenacious, yet her past lends her a vulnerability, too.

I also liked Mitch, though not as much as I liked Lena. I did think that Mitch was kind of an idiot most of the time—he moved his relationship with Lena at a too-rapid pace, and he was way too quick to judge her once he learned the "truth" about her past. (I do think he was realistically written; I just thought he made some dumb decisions.) Still, I liked him enough to wish for his happiness with Lena.

Refuge of the Heart is more clearly Catholic than the other Franciscan Media novel I read, and I definitely differ theologically with some of the things mentioned. However, this is fiction, and I don't require my fiction to match up with all of my beliefs; I just ask that it be something I can read and enjoy without shame. (I realize that the line between what is and is not acceptable differs among people; this is just what I'm comfortable with.)

Refuge of the Heart would be worth reading simply for the attention it brings to the world's refugees. The fact that the refugee information is wrapped in a sweet romance just makes it that much better! I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book, and I'll be watching for what Ruth Logan Herne comes out with next. 4 stars.

Franciscan Media has generously offered to give a copy of the book to one of my readers! Giveaway open in US only. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email before another winner is chosen. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway Follow the blog tour:
Buy the book.

Born into poverty, Ruth Logan Herne is the mother of six and grandmother to thirteen. She and her husband, Dave, live on a small farm in upstate New York. She works full time but carves a few hours each day to write the kind of stories she likes to read, filled with poignancy, warmth and delightful characters. She is the 2011 award winner from the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Hey, thank you so much for your beautiful review of "Refuge of the Heart"! I am grateful for your kind words and honest review. It was a true pleasure to write Lena's story of sacrificial love.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ruth. It's been fun to be on your tour!

  2. Been following the blog hop and the more I read the excerpts and posts about "Refuge of the Heart" the more I want to read it! Thank you for the chance to win a copy and for the review! Sounds like an intriguing book :-)

    1. It is very intriguing, Trixi! It turned out to be not at all what I expected--and I loved it!

  3. Oh I just love the book cover!!!! Its beautiful. I love those lights in the window, they wouldn't be too hard to make actually.
    Sounds like a craft day!

    Nice review!

    1. It is gorgeous, isn't it? The cover is actually what first attracted me to the book! I'm SO not crafty, so I won't be attempting those lights, but let me know if you do--I'd love to see them!


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