Published by Franciscan Media
Reviewed by Bonnie Roof
When District Attorney Mitchell (Mitch) Sanderson rescues Magdalena (Lena) Serida, and her 5-year-old sister, Anna, from the peril of a flat tire in a store parking lot - little does he realize she could be the rescuer of his heart. Shielding it against loving again, since the loss of his wife and unborn son in a drunk-driving accident, 5 years prior - he still blames God for their deaths.
Lena, a church-sponsored refugee from war-torn Chechnya, Russia, had witnessed the horrors of war firsthand - her strong Christian faith having led her through the loss of the rest of her family. However, Lena is hiding a dark secret - one which causes her nightmares, anxiety attacks, a fear and distrust of law enforcement, and a reluctance to testify on war crimes before the U.S. Senate. Once a near-affluent doctor, she is now being schooled to become a nurse - while working part-time in a nursing home, raising her sister, and living in a poverty-stricken, crime-infested neighborhood.
Mitch, a caring man from an affluent family, and a relentless worker who has strived for 3 years to remove problems in the justice system that allow criminals to escape incarceration - has earned respect and trust for his conviction rate. Drawn to Lena through her strength, courage, and faith - their relationship is challenged when Mitch's friend spreads rumors about Lena to him, causing a possible obstacle to his re-election, and his doubt of Lena's integrity.
'Refuge of the Heart' is a novel that touched me deeply with it's touching, heart-warming message of faith, trust, courage, redemption, hope, and strength. I read most of it in one sitting - through the night - unable to put it down. It expanded my knowledge of, and compassion for, the plight of refugees from war-torn countries, and aroused sympathy for Lena, in her courageous battle to a better life for she and her sister. Enduring the poverty of less than enough food and a lack of warm clothing and bedding, the struggle for money to put gas in her car. Things many of us take for granted. Lena's misinterpretation of the English language made me smile, as did the sweetness and conversations of Anna. The novel didn't overwhelm me with scenes from Anna & Mitch's past, or jobs - thus allowing me to become totally engrossed in the story of Mitch and Lena: their romance, faith, and lessons to be learned. Lena's resilience, practicality, dreams, and faith through such adversity was truly inspiring.
I love this longer novel from Ruth Logan Herne, her first novel for publisher Franciscan Media. I consider it a "work of art", her best writing to date, deserving of more than a 5-star rating. I became invested in the characters, feeling their pain and joy, thinking of them long after I finished reading the novel. I hope Ruth has plans for a series, a continuation of Mitch and Lena's story.
GIVEAWAY: Ruth has graciously offered to give away one copy of this wonderful story; e-book or paperback - winner's choice! To be eligible please be sure to leave your email using (at) and (dot) to protect yourself from spammers.