#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Secret Heir (Book One: of the Saga of David and Secret Heir series) by Janice Broyles

Posted Monday, 13 January, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary of “The Secret Heir” direct from the author Janice Broyles in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read “The Secret Heir”:

I’ve had an interest in seeking out more Biblical Historical Fiction for the past few years – as each of us walks a life of faith and were raised in Protestant Christianity approach how we read the Bible differently. For me, I had hoped there were more ‘stories’ of the people in the Bible, more background on their lives & their everyday worlds; a more intimate portrait truly of how they lived not only reflected their character but of the ongoing changes in society and the world which was evolving forward from where it first began. There was a lot of change in Biblical times – especially when it came to power & to how those in power used theirs to manipulate events and/or cause harm rather than good.

This is why I’ve been seeking out either INSPY Non-Fiction which seeks to give you an easier way to digest the ‘biographical’ histories of the people of the Bible or INSPY Historical Fiction which in of itself is a beautiful new niche of joy for me because all the reasons I enjoy seeking out mainstream #HistFic are lovingly transferred over into the INSPY side of the ledger! This is where you can draw a more interpersonal view of the people you have heard about by name but perhaps never fully connected with previously? Similar to why you might feel curiously inclined to read any other Historical narrative – to step through the threshold of time and recapture a bit of the essence of not just the timestamp on the time machine but also the people who lived through those eras & generations.

Although I’ve known about King David, I can’t say I felt close to his story or to Michal. When I first read the premise of this novel, I did feel a bit cautious about reading it as I was worried about the levels of intensity when it comes to the more graphic way ‘some writers’ of Biblical Historical Fiction & mainstream Historical narratives take the reader back into a world which was a bit more brutal than any of us really realised.

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I elected to reach out to the author via HFVBTs
and asked a particular question regarding the content of the novel/series:

I know it’s Christian Historical Fiction but I’ve sometimes become burnt on this anyway – is this considered violently graphic or does she round off the harder edges of the violence and/or is it just suggested but never truly depicted? I wanted to ask this because as said sometimes I get burnt on what I am reading.

Broyles responded:

Yes, it is a clean read, but yes, there is violence. The books are retellings of David, and he was often at war or in battles, so there are scenes where that is depicted. Everything connects with the Bible though (and there’s a lot of violence in Scripture). I try not to go overboard, but there is some in there. The books are clean, as in there is no swearing, sex, or anything close to it. I’ve had a lot of conservative readers write great reviews.
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With this kind response, I felt I could handle the content within the context of the story and moved forward to host the blog tour. I am grateful I had the opportunity to begin this series from the beginning within “The Secret Heir” as I wanted to truly understand where we find David in the series and how his life leading up to his anointment was affecting the future we know of him better.

I decided to share this Q&A with my readers in case you had similar concerns about what you might find within the novel. I like to be transparent about how I make my own choices in literature & if something I’ve learnt can help another reader make better choices in their readerly lives, I feel better for the transparency. As otherwise, how would any of us know what we can handle or not handle!? This is why I love the book blogosphere and other bloggers who are being openly honest about the stories their reading & the content that either is agreeable for them as a reader or has some triggering effects which ought to be noted in case other readers shared the same response.

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#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Secret Heir (Book One: of the Saga of David and Secret Heir series) by Janice BroylesThe Secret Heir
Subtitle: A young man - anointed to be King - must first survive the king already on the throne.
by Janice Broyles
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Years before, he was anointed future king of Israel. Now if the sitting king learns of his secret, it will mean death for David and everyone in his family. David’s secret destiny becomes more complicated when he falls in love with King Saul’s daughter, Michal. He will do whatever it takes to secure her heart, provided she doesn’t find out that David is the rumored rival to her father’s throne.

Now that Michal is of age, the Queen determines her daughter must be married as soon as possible. Michal resigns herself to a pre-arranged marriage with a man she does not love. Then by fate or God’s providence she meets the handsome, young lyre player standing outside her father’s chambers.

One lives in a palace; the other sleeps under the stars. Though they come from vastly different worlds, Michal and David are drawn together. When King Saul uncovers David’s secret and vows to kill him, Michal is torn between her love for her father and feelings for David. Two kings, two men she deeply loves but for different reasons — one heart broken in two.

Genres: Biblical Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781946016539

Also by this author: Guest Post | Janice Broyles, The Runaway Heir

Also in this series: The Runaway Heir

Published by Heritage Beacon Fiction

on 11th July, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 286

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The Saga of David and Secret Heir series series:

The Secret Heir by Janice BroylesThe Runaway Heir by Janice Broyles

The Secret Heir (book one)

The Runaway Heir (book two)

→ The Anointed Heir (book three) *forthcoming release!

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Published by: Heritage Beacon Fiction (@heritagefiction)
an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (@LPCTweets)

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov; #KingDavid
+ #Biblical #HistoricalFictionand  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Janice Broyles

Janice Broyles

Janice Broyles is an award-winning author. She resides in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where she teaches at a local college. She spends the majority of her free time researching history and retelling fantastical stories. Luckily her husband and two sons understand her passion for history and making stories come alive.

When not researching or writing, Janice Broyles enjoys spending time with her family and hanging out with her close circle of friends. The Runaway Heir is the second book to her David saga. The Secret Heir, released in 2018, is the first novel of the series.The Anointed Heir, the third book in the series, is set to be released by the end of 2020. Janice enjoys spending time with her husband of 23 years and their two sons and one dog.

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my review of the secret heir:

From other stories set at palaces and within royal families, I could well understand why Michal and her sister Merab chose to sneak round and to listen to conversations not meant for their ears. It was the only way they could each source information they might not otherwise would have learnt and in a way, it also drew the two sisters closer together. They might get into mischief as well – especially how we first found Merab trying to steal time away from her boyfriend whilst Michal was becoming miserable having eaten to much fruit; it shows how solidly connected they were as sisters and as confidantes. Theirs was an age where arranged marriages were rather commonplace – something they each felt aggrieve by to acknowledge and yet, it was already starting to have a negative effect on their futures – as Merab quickly found out, they would not be marrying for love as their partners would be ‘announced’ rather than traditionally met.

It was also here in the very opening of the novel where we discovered their father was not of the best of health nor was he in the fullest capacity to be in charge of ruling the society in which they lived. This proved an interesting segue – as it started to seek the undercurrent of the political scene happening behind their lives and what was going on in the scheme of ‘where’ we are in the Biblical Historical timeline of events which are very well known. I felt Broyles started to lean-in towards those awareness’s with a very gentle nudge and nod for the reader – she allowed you to get to know these sisters and the rest of her characters on a personal level before it was necessary to see them as the people they are to us today.

What truly was a sombering side of the story is how ineffective David’s parents and family were in raising him – they’d quite literally shunned him from their house and allowed him to mature in the fields with sheep and shepherds. A rather unorthodox upbringing to say the least and I was equally thankful David had persons he could trust in the fields as much as it warmed my heart to realise he had surrogate fathers, too. The weight of pressure to succeed was definitely on his shoulders from a very young age – as you gathered that his father never considered much of David. Almost as if he was a throwaway relation and whatever happened in his life had no bearing of purpose to his father or his family. Not exactly the easiest reality to resolve when you’re still growing into you’re own maturity but for David, you felt there was an unease to how people received him as well. Even when he was given praise or supportive encouragement by the people he could trust and who trusted him, I noted was hard for him to process and accept. He was expecting the worse and when he received something positive instead, it almost felt like it was even more jarring than the expected negativity.

Michel’s mother is just as I expected her to be – overbearing, controlling and manipulative – all the worst traits you could aspire in a mother and yet, she perfected how to fulfill that role as she had an especial vileness to her when you looked at how she interacted with Michal on a personal level. Michal was clearly not the favoured child (that would be Merab) nor was she viewed as anything more than what could be offered as a token of their loyalty and appreciation to a husband. In other words, she was property to her parents as readily as her maidservant Dinah. Somberly this was a fate her sister was clued into ahead of her and I truly felt the emotion of this being revealled to her when she had a confrontation with Merab. Broyles tucks you close to their emotional states and that is why you can feel the subtext even before you read it.

David is struggling to sort out his role in his family but also as a shepherd – his doubts are thundering in his heart and mind due to what he was initially told of his predestined future and that is where we find him betwixt and between his thoughts and his duties when his brother shows up to give him caution about why he might have been requested to visit their father’s home. This felt like a transitional moment to me – where David was going to be shown a path which would start to lead him out of his past and towards the future he could not readily believe could be his own. A segue if you will to take us closer to the David we know of vs the David we had first met when the novel began.

I found the first meeting between David and Michal to be a humbling one – David hadn’t been granted instruction on what his role to the King (ie. King Saul) was meant to look like nor was he given any encouraging words of advice except to play his music. It is here where Broyles shared a passage from Psalms (and I admit, I love Psalms!) which related to the musical interlude. To his credit, David has a lot of strength and courage in his young heart – he is used to being shrugged off and mistreated by his family, to find his bravery at court amongst the King felt like he was truly embracing the gift he had received from on High; as he wasn’t rationally reasoning his visit here – he was choosing to go with the flow and to embrace whatever came his way.

Curiously there appeared to be a disconnect between David and his father – of how the son was trying to grow into a measure of worth befitting a man who was anointed with an important position in the future whereas the father used that secreted honour as a rite of fuell to dismantle his son’s spirit if he could break him with his fist. Why his father was so aggrieved against David from the beginning is unknown (at least at this junction) and what was hard to accept in the context of his story is how without his fellow shepherds he would have been cast out completely alone.

One of the areas of the novel I enjoyed the most were the nuanced moments between the events – where Broyles gives us a glimpse into the ordinary hours each of her characters might have lived and thereby extending the situations we might have read about through the Scriptures (of the Bible). These little tucked in moments give more breadth to whom we’re reading about – seeing Michal trying to round out her knowledge of the lyre (the instrument David plays), the vexations of her sister Merab not willing to ‘let go’ of the idea of love and the cunningly discouraging way their mother tried to continue to scheme and plan behind the sisters’ back; all showed how their lives were not as you’d have hoped and their trials were wide and deep.

You can understand how Michal and David fell in love with each other – they were both facing circumstances outside their control with parents who cared little about their individual needs and more about what they could leverage out of them. This sparked a connection between them where they each forged a bond with someone who was walking the same life and felt equally as miserable for the experience. It was here where Broyles knits the story closer to your heart because you can feel the emotional tidalwaves within each of them – they are torn between duty, honour and loyalty against what in their world is considered the weaker option of voicing their own mind. They were taught to obey and never to question their orders and yet, here they were given the chance to break through those structured barriers most of their age were living behind and had the opportunity to see each other on equal ground. Fittingly because Michal drew a connection with David, you saw for the first time she was starting to understand her sister Merab and the choices she was making in her own life.

Like other stories placed inside the courts through other centuries and eras, you find yourself understanding the darker truths of what is emerging through the innocence of Michal’s understanding of her house and her role in her family. The more information she gleams about her mother (and her obsessive needs for power, control and land) the less she realises she has understood during her lifetime. Meaning, everything started to change for her when she looked outside herself and her sisters’ wanderings – to look more critically of how the palace was run and how those in its walled chambers who held the power over land and people could continue to surprise her with their words and their actions.

The more interesting bit to the story is David was sent to the palace under a guise to gain entrance there and it was a position which could lead into his apprenticeship to learn how to be a King. This is critical of his own thread of story and the predestined path he was meant to embrace. He didn’t always understand the path he had to endure but he did see the opportunities placed in front of him and blessedly he took them rather than turnt away from accepting what could aide his position in the future. In the background (of course) is the descension of the King’s state of mentality and mental health – here, we see King Saul succumbing to fear and the doubts he has as a ruler, giving him the most difficult role to play in the novel because he is benevolent as much as he is aggressively angry. His staff and family walk on eggshells round him and it is interesting to think David had the key to what would dispel his tempered attacks and the insomnia he was plagued with each night.

I oft had wondered if there was more to the David and Goliath story – more context really behind what happened if you will and Broyles gave me that bit of fodder when she explains in her vision for this saga of David how a young shepherd had more courage and bravery than the King’s men combined to take-on a larger than life foe! It wasn’t just the fact he chose to attack a giant it was the reasoning behind it – the fact he was tired to being sidelined in life and the fact no one took his word about anything he had ever accomplished. It rankled and it was as if this was the one moment of David’s young life where he finally said “I am David, and this is what I can do.”

Sadly for David – there were people conspiring against him and with the King’s own suspicious mind already in play, he barely had a chance to carve out his own life to live before everything fell at his feet in regards to the trust and loyalty he had previously secured. David in this installment of the trilogy is learning the harder lessons about supposition and rumour; how someone can turn against a person as quickly as they can be ordered to be killed. David’s truer strength is his faith in God and how he felt he was being led into the battles of his life. He drew strength out of prayer and song; giving himself to the hope of what his faith would yield in moments of intensive adversity where mercy was warranted. And, yet – there are those other moments where your heart nearly breaks for how futile his actions were to prove his worth and he was against a King who had already gone insane.

Throughout this first novel, we get to sneak into David, Merab and Michal’s lives – we get to get a more intimate portrait of what was going on at the time of the events History has been recorded to peer closer to the choices they were each facing given out by people who had control over them. It wasn’t a life of free choice and personal freedoms but it was a life they each fought to live – on their own terms but within a system which was organised against their will. Where the drama bridges the gap between what you previously knew about these people and what can become better inferred through this novel is where Broyles excelled at giving us a living portrait of life during the century where fate, love and enduring hope collided with destined prophecy.

on the biblical historical writing styling of janice broyles:

At first, I had to adjust to how Broyles acknowledges the key figures in her story because she isn’t using traditional names to announce their presence in the series –  when it comes to God, she chooses to use different names which He is also known by but not by the name generally referenced in either the other Biblical Historical narratives I’ve read or Historical and/or Contemporary INSPY Literature. I did recognise this had a more Judaism base of where the story was centred rather than Christianity which helped me sort through the differences in names and how they were represented. Secondly, it took me a bit to understand the prophet she was referencing in the context of David’s story-line was Samuel*. The interesting bit though to mention is because she altered how you expect to find them in the text itself, you are not focusing on them right now but rather, are hugging closer to both Michal and David; which in of itself is the whole point to the series.

As I hadn’t known the fuller history behind King David’s life prior to his ascension as King, I was appreciating the back-history of his younger years – where you took a more personal look into how he was raised and the adversities he had earlier in life which might reflect how he handled things in the future. Broyles takes you quite close to where you would expect to find both Michal and David; granting you a bit of licence to see them as they once lived and to see the choices they were each making within those lives they were living.

(*) I stumbled across an article which reveals a bit of what is going on in this novel in regards to King Saul, Samuel and David directly – as well as the historical facts which support the novel’s message and story’s timeline. Israelmyglory.org. (2020). Samuel & David – Israel My Glory. israelmyglory.org/article/samuel-david

After reading the article (in parts) I was able to better ascertain where I am in David’s life as I was still stumbling a bit to gather the fuller context of the Biblical Historical timeline against the pacing of where we are within the introduction of David and Michal. This also gave me more of sense of reasoning when it came to how Broyles was choosing to tell her version of their story which I appreciated. I was a bit surprised there wasn’t an Author’s Note or Forward in front of the opening chapters of the novel as I felt it would have benefited the work. Especially for those of us who a) hadn’t quite connected all the dots and b) might have felt this was our first pass-through on David’s life in full as we have read other areas of the Bible but not the passages and sequences relative to the story which is in effect a re-telling of how David and Michal might have lived.

Once I opened the door so to speak on the fuller back-history of these characters, I easily inserted Broyles vision for the novel and the evolving series because I had something to anchour the novel (and series) to rather than feeling like I was treading water without fully understanding the girth of what was being represented. I had attempted to read this novel without foreknowledge of David but I felt it was muddling to read and that is where the article aided my efforts. So much so, post-reading the article I found myself able to attach more directly into the story and it felt more realistic to me as well because I had a better capacity to understand this part of human History.

Notes on Content:

When David has to fight the lion whilst protecting his flock, due to recent updates arriving from Australia’s bushfire season which has grown completely catastrophic and has affected my reading life this early January – I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in the scene where David is shown to attack the lion. My heart is so dearly sensitive right now when it comes to animals – I was pleasantly surprised at the decorum in which the scene was set and delivered. Thankfully, it was a scene more focused on the status of David’s role in his family than the encounter with the lion. I appreciated the absence of anything graphically violent.

There is a repeating pattern of abuse in David’s story from the perspective of how his father mistreats him and how he has endured the abuse. I was thankful those instances were told the way they needed to be mentioned but they didn’t cross a line for me; they simply stated what was happening and why; showing the motivation of the father and the strong will of the son who did not want to show disloyalty to his father. These scenes could easily have been expanded and more graphically displayed and I was thankful they were not.

I was also thankful some of the harder scenes to observe were behind closed doors. You knew of them happening but blessedly you did not have to read nor see what they involved.

A note on the timeline of the novel:

There are chapter headings within the novel which are a bit confusing because rather than explore the timeline in anchours of months/years, you are simply shifting from character and location rather than counting the time between the chapters. This felt a bit redundant in one regard as all the chapters reflected the same year but helpful to know where you were transitioning in-scene but what I wished had been revealled were the increments of time itself – as it took me a bit to realise we weren’t on the same day of when we first met Michal and her sister by the time I reached Chapter Three. Sometimes it is more helpful to see the sequencing of time than to reference the changes in scene and location.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story contributed to my 2020 reading challenges:

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “The Secret Heir” and “The Runaway Heir””, book synopsis for “The Secret Heir”, author biography, author photograph of Janice Broyles, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #HistoricalMondays banner, 2020 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 13 January, 2020 by jorielov in 1020s BC, 11th Century BC, 2nd Millennium BC, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Israel, Biblical Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, King Saul, Military Fiction

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