Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love

"Redeeming Love", by Francine Rivers is a historical romance novel set in the 1850's Gold Rush in California. The story is taken from the book of Hosea from the Bible. Its central theme is to portray the redeeming love of God towards sinners.

Plot introduction

The story starts off in New England, 1835. Sarah, a beautiful young girl, meets her father, Alex Stafford, for the first time. Eight-year-old Sarah learns that she is the product of Stafford's adulterous affair with her mother, Mae. Mae was urged to abort the child, but refused to do so. This decision alienated her from Alex, whom she continues to love in hopes that he will leave his family and marry her. Alex refuses.

Mae and Sarah then move to a shack on the docks, where Mae resumes her job of prostitution to make ends meet. Her reputation is known all over town, and little Sarah is forced to suffer the rejection of the townspeople because of it. Through this experience, Sarah learns to mask her emotions and replace them instead with a hard exterior.

Within the space of a few months, Mae succumbs to a terrible illness, leaving Sarah alone with a drunken family relation known as Uncle Rab. Unsure of what to do with the small child, Rab seeks a home for the child. He finds a man that is looking for a little girl for his wealthy master. Thinking that this is Sarah's lucky break, Rab takes Sarah to the wealthy neighborhood. They are greeted at the door by a woman who urges Rab to take Sarah away and not come back. Not dissuaded, Rab insists that Sarah is perfect for this rich man. The woman admits the pair and sends them to a bedroom upstairs where they are instructed to wait until her master can see them.

Duke, the master of the household, welcomes Sarah and Rab; minutes later, Rab is strangled before Sarah's eyes, his body dumped in a nearby alley. Duke had been scouring the town not for a new daughter, but a new mistress. Duke informs Sarah, or Angel, as he renames her, that there are many things he wants to teach her. He gives her her first "lesson" that very night.

After about 10 years with Duke, Angel finally escapes and boards a ship bound for California. Robbed by the other passengers, she disembarks in San Francisco with nothing more than the clothes she is wearing. Angel is taken in by 'The Duchess', the owner of The Palace, a brothel in Pair-a-Dice and becomes an exclusively high-priced prostitute. Employed by the Duchess, Angel is guarded constantly, her meager earnings kept from her. Her only solace is Lucky, a fellow prostitute who befriends her.Michael Hosea fist sees Angel on a trip to Pair-A-Dice to sell produce. God tells Michael to marry Angel; he later discovers that she is a prostitute. Still determined to heed God's command and marry Angel, Michael pays the high fee for her time in hopes of convincing her to leave with him. She stubbornly rejects his offer. Discouraged, Michael questions God, but still obeys. He pays Angel's fee for three successive nights, talking and reasoning with her until his time is up. Angel keeps her cold, sarcastic front to dissuade him, wanting to escape the pain his words cause her. Meanwhile, she cannot seem to escape thoughts of Michael and her rising hope of life outside the Palace.

After the last night with Angel, Michael grows frustrated and leaves Pair-A-Dice. A few days later, he returns to Pair-A-Dice, unable to ignore God's command any longer. He finds Angel almost dead from a brutal beating given her by Magowan, Duchess' bodyguard. Willing to use any means to preserve Angel's life, Michael asks her to marry him so he can take her to his cabin. Barely conscious, Angel agrees.

Michael nurses Angel back to health at his cabin. Angel remains barely tolerant of the arrangement while it serves her needs. Michael endures Angel's harshness, remaining faithful to his wife and God's plan. Michael's brother-in-law, Paul, returns home from fruitless gold panning in the Sierras. Paul recognizes Angel immediately as the high-priced prostitute from the Palace. Believing Angel has deceived Michael, Paul treats her badly. Paul tries to tell Michael about Angel's profession, but only angers him. From then on, Paul thinks there is a rift between him and Michael because of Angel, not knowing that he is the one causing it.

When she finally heals from her wounds, she tries to run away from Michael in hopes of returning to the brothel to get back what is owed to her from The Duchess. When Paul leaves to sell the produce of his land back in Pair-A-Dice, Angel sees this as a way for her to escape. While Michael is out working in the field, she runs after Paul's wagon and agrees to go with him if she pays him back with her only means of currency: herself. He's disgusted by her actions even more after they have sex together and hopes that is the last of her he will be seeing ever again. Upon her returning, she sees that the Palace had been burned down, along with Magowan, the body guard who had brutally beaten her, her dearest companion Lucky, and another prostitute by the name of Mai Ling. With nowhere else to go, she begins working in a saloon, once again, as a prostitute, even though she loathes her position as being seen as nothing but a whore. Michael finds her in a room with a prospect and fights their way out of the bar filled with drunken men waiting for their turn with Angel.

They return back to the cabin where Angel begins to develop more feelings, with which she cannot comprehend because she has never allowed her to love any man, for fear of them taking advantage or deserting her like her mother. Nonetheless, Michael loves her unconditionally anyways and upon showing her the sunrise, he says, "that is what I want to give to you." Angel feels herself becoming soft-hearted day by day, but refuses to share it with Michael.

She runs away once again, this time, to Sacramento where Joseph Hochschild has built his new store and she stays with him, knowing that he is a good friend of Michael's. She works for him in his store along with his mother and sister. When an order comes in for Michael, she tries to leave but Joseph keeps her busy, making her wait longer. When she finishes her duties and goes to close up the store, Michael is standing at the doorway.

He takes her back to the valley and upon their arrival, they meet the Altman family who have a broken wheel and are stranded on the side of the road. Michael helps them and he invites them to stay at their cabin. They become really close and Angel has taken a liking to the oldest daughter, Miriam, who begins to fancy Paul. When Angel see Miriam talking to Michael, she assumes that they have feelings for one another and would make a much better couple. Paul wants to see Michael end up with Miriam as well, but has also begun to grow feelings for the 16-year-old Miriam. He denies his feelings only because he wishes to see Michael with Miriam instead of Angel.

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