Wednesday, June 12, 2024

BENEATH A CRESCENT SHADOW by A. L. Sowards, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

The Balkan Legends, Book 1:

Beneath a Crescent Shadow is a perfect example of why historical romantic fiction is my favorite genre—I can learn about diverse places and different time periods while enjoying an entertaining story. Set against the backdrop of the Balkans in the late 1300s, a place and era I was quite unfamiliar with, this tale showcases talented author A. L. Sowards’s creative imagination and impeccable historical research. I enjoyed the carefully-crafted, multi-layered characters and the rich historical detail.

When young Konstantin is made a ruler due to his father’s demise in battle, he is unprepared for the role. As a Serb, he is a vassal to the Ottoman sultan, but he and his people long for freedom. To save his lands, a marriage is arranged between him and Suzana, the daughter of a rich merchant. His trouble isn’t over, though, as danger seems to threaten them on every side.

“Sometimes we have no good choices, only ones that lead to different kinds of pain.”

With lots of twists and turns, danger, suspense, and a lovely dose of romance, this novel is a journey of courage, forgiveness, hope, and the healing only God can provide. It is part of a series, The Balkan Legends, but can easily be read alone. There is a prequel called After the Crescent Strike, and there will be more books in the series. I appreciated the glossary and map the author posted at the front of the book. They were a big help in understanding the terms and territory.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Shadow Mountain. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:

After an arranged marriage, Konstantin and Suzana must find a way to meet the demands of a conquering Ottoman sultan amid a torrent of setbacks and dangers much closer to their Balkan home.

The Balkans, 1373

A devastating battle claimed the lives of Konstantin’s father, uncle, and most of their Serb army, leaving Konstantin to rule as a vassal of the Ottoman sultan, a role he is wholly unprepared for. Between war, famine, and a persistent band of brigands, this young, new ruler is nearly bankrupt. He will need to find a wealthy bride if he is to have any hope of saving his lands and securing his future.

A betrothal to Suzana, the daughter of a prosperous merchant, is soon arranged, and upon meeting her, Konstantin immediately feels hope that their marriage could someday grow into love. Yet from the moment of Konstantin and Suzana’s betrothal, enemies threaten their lives, outlaws prey on their lands, and the terrors of Suzana’s abusive past haunt their fragile new relationship. As this onslaught of threats closes in, the two face challenges that will test their love, their faith, and their hope of saving their people from the heavy weight of Ottoman oppression.


Shadow Mountain Publishing, June 2024
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook:

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