In 1766, many German Protestant religious minorities respond to Russia’s offer of open immigration, which includes free farmland, and they risk imprisonment and death to escape their home states. Marta Ebel is one of these immigrants. Carl Mueller, a calculating stranger who saves Marta from the authorities, offers to travel with her, and Marta insists they marry for propriety’s sake. Though she and her husband begin to care for one another, Carl has an agenda of his own, and Marta must rely on her faith in God to see her through hardship and abandonment.
This novel provides an interesting look at a little-known group of German émigrés and the hardships they suffered. Marta’s struggle is realistic and moving, but Carl’s insensible grappling with his feelings and the predictable conclusion is less so. Their relationship follows the expected route, as does the novel’s plotting, leaving the reader to mechanically turn pages while interest wanes. This novel’s take on non-Protestant religious groups, however, is refreshing—rather than villainize them, they are portrayed sympathetically, and Marta’s prejudice is challenged when she is helped by a Catholic priest and a Russian Orthodox family. Though predictable, fans of romantic inspirational novels may enjoy this comfortably familiar offering.