Marcus, Lee, Austin, and Violet are starting over. Texas is supposed to be their sanctuary. But the Constabulary isn't ready to relinquish their worst offenders, legal jurisdiction or not. They've sent agents in undercover, and Marcus is the assigned target of one who has personal reasons to bring him back dead or alive.
Marcus and Lee are ready to be whole again, to secure a home here--together. But wholeness and home might not mean what they thought. Stopping the Constabulary hunters will require more than Marcus knows how to give, and God is about to use him again in a way he doesn't expect.
Enemies, emotions, the past, the future--everything must be faced in the quest for a true haven.
Amanda G. Stevens is the author of the Haven Seekers series and the No Less Days series. A voluntarily transplanted Yankee who lives in the South, she loves acoustic music, Pre-Code/Golden Era films, and super-sweet iced lattes.
You know how sometimes you just have to hug a book after you finish it? Yeah, that was definitely me with this book. Oh, how hard it was to say goodbye to these characters! I have been in love with them from the beginning, and reading about their lives in both times of danger and times of peace has been so wonderful. Characters make a book for me. A book could have the best plot ever, every detail executed with precision. And yet if I'm not convinced to care about the characters, that book is not going to get 5 stars. These characters, on the other hand, practically demand my attention, and I gladly gave it to them. :)
This last book in the Haven Seekers series has a different feeling to it than the first three. It's less about physical danger and more about emotions and how post-traumatic stress can wreak havoc without the proper outlet and without healing. While books one, two, and three left me breathless in a different way, Far and Near left me breathless with wanting good for these people, breathless, I must say, with even the sweetest, most tender bits of romance that is not really present in the other books. Love of family (even family of the heart) and love of one Christ-follower to another is also a huge component of this story. And while perhaps there is less of a thriller feeling to this story, that's not to say that the plot is not without a good dose of conflict. I admit to reading this one more slowly because I knew that I would soon have to say goodbye. Yet savoring hardly worked because I was so eager to see how things were going to turn out for them, and Stevens delivers!
My favorite aspect of this author's writing is how deeply she makes you feel for the characters. At one point, my heart was literally racing because of what Marcus was going through emotionally. I'm just so impressed by the depth of realism that these characters took on in my mind while reading. Of all of the books, for me, this one digs the deepest. I loved the themes of hope and reconciliation, of a continued striving for peace and a life well-lived. Haven Seekers is one of my favorite series (also - do NOT read these out of order - you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you do!). Highly recommended, especially to readers of speculative fiction and character-drive stories with an excellent plot.
I enjoyed this series, but not this last book as much as the others. Amanda G. Stevens has done a great job of imagining what the future will look like if Christians are considered terrorists and owning a bible becomes a hate crime. The books were VERY BELIEVABLE and adrenalin-pumping.
Marcus has been in love with Lee for years, but her emotional traumas have kept them apart. In this book much of that is resolved, which is why it fell kind of flat to me. Sure, I know they needed to get together, but all the talk about his counselor and her counselor and several others in the story who confessed (and overcame) their weaknesses ended up coming off as pat.
Stevens is a new author with tons of potential. I look forward to future books.
First of all, if you have not read the first three books in this series, you will want to do so before picking this one up. Since each book follows on from the previous one in the series, this review may contain minor spoilers for those earlier books if you haven't read them yet, although I will do my best to limit this.
One more thing: YOU NEED TO READ THIS SERIES.
There is no possible way to convey how much I . . . actually, I'm not even sure there's an adjective that accurately describes how I feel about this series. It seems shallow and somehow misleading to say I 'enjoyed' it, because it is not a light read. I have been gripped . . . fully immersed . . . engrossed . . . consumed . . . I loved it. I cried, I smiled, I held by breath, and I kept swiping my Kindle at the end as though that would magically deliver more pages of a story that I wasn’t ready to finish. And to think, a week ago I didn’t even know Marcus and Lee existed.
For those who do not know the premise of this series, it is actually deceptively simple for the speculative genre: in the US, 'archaic' Bibles have been banned for inciting violence and hate speech. The only Bibles now permitted are the government-sanctioned Progressive United Version. Likewise, Christianity is outlawed, and it is the job of the Philosophical Constabulary to apprehend and re-educate anyone who continues to practise or preach Christianity. As a result, Texas secedes from the United States and become a Republic in its own right – and a safe haven for those fleeing the long reach of the Constabulary.
In this fourth (and final) book in the series, Marcus, Lee, Violet, and Austin have begun to establish themselves in their new home. However the newly formed Republic of Texas is suffering from a rapidly rising cost of living due to trade embargoes with the US, and so in return for the lifting of these embargoes, the Governor agrees that the Republic of Texas will not interfere with the capture of any person on the Constabulary’s Most Wanted List – a list which includes Marcus Brenner.
Still suffering both emotionally and physically from the time he spent imprisoned, Marcus knows exactly who will be coming after him, and what his chances of survival will be if apprehended. Already an intensely private person and having been betrayed by a fellow Christian in the past, he refuses to make his situation known within their new community. But when another person is injured trying to protect him, sharing his story may be the only thing that can stop the tide of public opinion turning against those who have come to Texas seeking refuge. He’s not good with words at the best of times. How can he possibly find the words when so much is at stake?
Lee is the other point-of-view character in this book – an intensely introverted woman taking her first tentative steps as a Christian, and struggling to overcome the lasting effects of a previous trauma so that she can accept Marcus’s love and friendship in its fullest sense. There is something about the steadfast love of a man who patiently waits for his love to be returned (Gilbert Blythe, anyone?) that makes my throat close over with emotion, and this has to be one of my all-time favourite relationships in literature for heartfelt depth.
Violet and Austin have their own struggles to work through, and I can’t help hoping there will be some kind of follow up book (or series) to continue their story - at the very least. (And I’m not beyond begging!)
Bottom line: as a several-books-a-week reader, these are some of the most authentic, memorable, and well-drawn characters I have come across; such a simple premise giving rise to such compelling stories and powerful testimonies. This has honestly been one of the most affecting reading experiences I can recall – and as someone who has read and therefore sobbed through the end of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, that’s saying something.
I really cannot recommend this series highly enough - and I do not gush lightly. Start at the beginning and enjoy the superb writing and stunning characterization.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
This book was a great completion to the Haven Seekers series.
Marcus, Lee, Violet and Austen are trying to find their feet and make a new home in Texas, but circumstances might destroy the safe haven they were seeking. The pages were filled with action and great emotional struggles. The ending left you with a happy sigh.
This series is best to be read in order.
A great series for the debut author, Amanda Stevens. Looking forward to reading more from her in the future.
In Book 4 of Stevens' Haven Seekers futuristic series, Marcus, Lee, Austin, and Violet are starting over. Texas is supposed to be their sanctuary. But the Constabulary isn't ready to relinquish their worst offenders, legal jurisdiction or not. They've sent agents in undercover, and Marcus is the assigned target of one who has personal reasons to bring him back dead or alive.
What an awesome conclusion to this wonderful suspense/futuristic series. I have to admit I hate to say goodbye to these incredibly strong Christian characters. They're not perfect by any means but they all are trying to seek and grow in their Christian walk. Texas has seceded from the union and has become the sanctuary for Christians trying to evade the Constabulary. (Being an ex-Texan, I can definitely believe they might choose this path!). Stevens' does an excellent job of showing what life might be like under a governmental regime who is suppressing Christianity. But, in turn, she shows the wonderful brotherhood and family that Christian believers can be in supporting one another in times of trial.
Definitely a good series to read if you want to picture what life might be like if Christian persecution came to the US.
FAVORITE QUOTES: "But it isn't failure on God's part. It's brokenness in the world. Because of sin."
"Keep giving it to Him. No matter how many times I relapse."
"There was nobody. Except God. And I'm telling you. If you let Him hold you, He's enough."
(BTW Amanda Stephens is a member of CFD so you will see her around!)
I didn't think I was going to like this one, since it started in as kind of a drag, plot-wise. But I was WAY too invested in the characters to stop reading, so I finished it out. And I am so glad I did! The plot itself was not near as fast-paced as the third book, but that's probably because this book is less about actually escaping the Constabulary and more about healing. Marcus and Lee are learning (and sometimes failing) to trust their Christian community, and Violet and Austin's relationship is taking a new twist. And that ending...I have been waiting for what happens at the end for SO LONG! It kinda made me cry a little. :,) Here's to the end of a good series. This is a series that not only entertained me but taught me about what "defending the faith" actually looks like.
I’ve loved this series from the start, so it’s somewhat bittersweet to reach the end of this final book. I’ll miss Marcus, Lee, Violet, and Austen, and yet I’m happy to see them find some resolution and healing, even as a few things are left realistically open-ended.
If you haven’t been following this series, you really do need to read it in order, so check out my reviews of Books 1, 2, and 3. And suffice it to say that this series really is worth the time investment to read it. Seriously. What are you waiting for? You’ve got some catching up to do! ;)
This installment rejoins our characters in the newly sovereign state of Texas, trying to build a new life for themselves in relative safety, away from the constabulary. Except that the constabulary may not be as far away as our heroes and heroines would like. And wow, have they got a lot of issues to work through. But can you blame them after all they’ve faced up to this point?
Our (already beloved) characters take center stage in this book, as they continue to grow and mature in their faith. And in the process, they have to confront their worst fears and do things they never thought they could, before they can reach the happy ending they so desperately want. There’s more romance in this book than in the earlier ones, but it’s subtle and understated, in just the way you’d expect from Marcus and Lee if you’ve been following this series and getting to know them. Sigh. Let’s just say that the ending is all I could have hoped for them, and leave it at that for now, shall we?
Book clubs will find a lot to discuss here on issues like religious freedom, trust, and building relationships. And readers who enjoy a meaty story with thought-provoking what if scenarios, and relatably flawed characters need to read this series. It’s easily among my favorites.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary electronic copy of the book for review purposes.
More Christian fiction book and audiobook reviews can be found on my blog at http://karencollier.com, along with other related posts.
I finished this book on February 24th. My review has been on Amazon. Goodreads didn't show my review or me even reading it. Don't know why. I absolutely loved this series. I have cried, worried and prayed through these books. This fourth book had me feeling closer to the characters, especially Marcus and Lee. They had so much to overcome, spirituality, physically and mentally. Marcus has been my favorite character. If I had to rate this book on writing style alone I would give it a 4, but the story can't be beat. A strong 5.
As another series I’ve followed from book one comes to an end less than two months into 2016, let me just release a long, mournful sigh. Over the first three books in Amanda G. Steven’s speculative Haven Seekers series, I’ve had the privilege of walking through persecution, fear, and courage with Marcus, Lee, Violet, and Austin.
After reaching Texas, the state that has declared its independence from the rest of America and welcomes refugees (allowing Christians to worship God without persecution or fear of arrest), each of our foursome works to rebuild their lives. But when they learn of a list put out by the Constabulary—a list of 15 people in which the state has agreed not to interfere with—their peace is shattered. Marcus is number four on the list.
Still struggling with the nightmares, panic attacks, and weight of his four month of torture under Constabulary Agent Jason Mayweather, Marcus has a hard time trusting the people he calls his family (the church) with the whole truth of his past. He knows he’s not strong enough. Not strong enough to expose his weaknesses and not strong enough to face another betrayal from someone he considers a friend, a brother.
Stevens delves into the emotions involved in a trauma so horrifying, one that digs so deep into the soul, it will impact the rest of a life. Both Marcus and Lee are learning to move forward, to ground themselves in the reality of the here and now. Through their pain, they’re trying to become the people God wants them to be. Their friend Violet adds lightness, hope, to the despair of the two people she admires most.
The relationship between Lee & Marcus has grown through this series into something I’ve hoped for from book one. To be able to love someone so much neither of your needs words to communicate speaks volumes in itself. It’s beautiful and works for these two characters.
A story of hope in the midst of darkness, of courage to do the right thing when it scares you into stone, of trusting God beyond what words and prayers can express, Far and near is a powerful and respectful ending to this series. I look forward to seeing what Stevens gives her readers next.
***David C. Cook provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I'm saddened that this series has come to an end but was very pleased with the ending. You should definitely read the first three books in the series first as there are a lot of things that the characters are dealing with that you will best understand from walking through it with them. And the first three books are great!
The author did a superb job of tying up loose ends up but keeping things in 'the real world'. While there was a lot of growth to overcome many struggles with each character; they all still have things they are dealing with. It's one of the things I love about Amanda's work; how relatable her characters are. I love Violet and Marcus' relationship. I also love that Lee is not your typical lead female in Christian fiction. She deals with very real things that many women do and we really get to see more deeply into her struggles in this book.
The issues that the characters deal with led me to question some things in my own life spiritually in a really good way. The author asks some really tough spiritual and philosophical questions that start in book one and go all throughout the series. She did a fantastic job with the 'tough questions' and not writing the easy or pat answers. She also does a great job with not being 'preachy'; but still getting the point across.
I highly recommend this book as well as the whole series!
"I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes."
This series ended happily and joyfully, as any truly God-redemptive story should. And will. Stevens begins her fourth and final book in the Haven Seekers series with a familiarity that she expertly wove through the first three novels. It was deeply moving at points, with humor and wit sprinkled in, sometimes subtly, which conveys her personality and is a shame that those reading cannot fully experience without knowing her. She develops the characters we already know and love to a deeper level, much like when you marry and the time it takes to truly know your extended family. With each book and each chapter, you love her characters more. These are real people... relatable people... thoughtful and vulnerable that will bring the reader from tears to laughter and back again, just as if they were people you were walking through life with in reality and not simply (not so simply?) fictional characters on a page. Stevens decorates pictures expertly by using words as paint brushes and sweeps across the pages with fluid strokes of sentences. I anxiously await her next "work". She is an expert in her craft, with wisdom beyond her years.
When I requested the free copy from Netgalley I wasn't aware this is part of a series. I regret that I didn't read the other parts first, but I was able to figure out the most important things.
Incredible psychological insight combined with excellent writing, a suspenseful story, credible characters and non-preachy faith make this book something special.
The scenario might not be probable (persecution of Christians in 49 US states, independent Texas as a sanctuary for Christians), but that doesn't matter. Persecution of Christians not only will come, it's happening in great parts of the world right now.
And Amanda G. Stevens doesn't sugarcoat, she shows us the frustration, the difficulty trusting anybody, to stick to faith when you don't feel His presence or see Him acting, asking for and accepting help, the patience needed when there's no strength left.
This was an excellent finish to the Haven Seekers series! The plot is compelling, the characters are well-developed, and the resolution was a good balance of tying up lose ends while realistically accounting for the fact that life goes on. I am especially impressed with the character development. Often in a series the characters at the end of the series don't really resemble who they were at the beginning of the series. However, Amanda G Stevens's characters stay true to themselves even as they mature and adjust to their circumstances and surroundings. I also really appreciate that the characters have very realistic personal struggles and don't seem to "have it all together" just because they are Christians. This is one of the best series I have read, and I look forward to seeing more from this author in the future.
The book “Far and Near”, as well as the rest of the series by Amanda G. Stevens was outstanding! I really enjoyed all the characters, who I found very easy to relate to. The PTSD of the various characters after all they went through running from the constabulary was well done and realistic. The book was very thought-provoking, making me wonder…what if these events really did occur in our country? I normally don’t read dystopian, “what if” novels, but this series sounded so good and I was not disappointed.
I thought the book ended realistically. Not all the loose ends were tied up nice and neat. There were some unanswered questions, with the door open to maybe a spin-off series. Exploring more of Austin and Violet’s relationship would be great! But there were some parts of the story line that did have somewhat of a happy ending. You will have to read to find out
This is my favorite of the series. It was so strong that I had to take breaks. I am not usually an emotional person and this book was amazing. From another reviewer who stated it best: "I'm just so impressed by the depth of realism that these characters took on in my mind while reading. Of all of the books, for me, this one digs the deepest. I loved the themes of hope and reconciliation, of a continued striving for peace and a life well-lived. Haven Seekers is one of my favorite series (also - do NOT read these out of order - you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you do!). Highly recommended, especially to readers of speculative fiction and character-drive stories with an excellent plot."
A perfect ending for this series. I was moved by all the books but felt more of a personal connection with the characters in this one. They had a lot of issues, hurts and heartache to work through. They grew in their faith and trust in God. I read a lot of reviews and some people complained about the writing. It was at times not an easy, flowing read. But the story is so good it didn't distract me. My favorite character is Marcus. He has been through so much, dealing with panic attacks from his imprisonment and always looking over his shoulder. Learning to accept help and totally putting his trust in God. Thank you to the author for a wonderful ending. I hate to say goodbye.
I read the whole series and it was intense and captivating from beginning to end!! Made me cry sometimes, but I love the character development and the realistic realities of trauma and fear. It definitely is worth the read.
While Marcus and Lee somewhat redeem themselves in this one. I still feel that Lee’s co workers calling her Spock was a spot on description of her. I’m not sure I could ever be friends with either of them. Violet became one of my favorite characters, ironically. Jason got what he deserved, but I felt bad for Austin and what he had to do to his former boss. It would have been a little too wrapped up had he become a Christian too, but I wanted that for Violet. While there was still more to wrap up after Jason died, I felt like the book started dragging again and I became bored again. I also did want to find out what happened to traitor Clay and his family. While this series was good, and I’m glad I read it and finished it out, it was scary. As I see this happening in the near future and I hate that for us all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This review is for the whole series of books. It is a rare thing for me to still feel the characters of a book weeks after I've read it. These characters have such depth, good and bad, that sticks with you.
What IF Christianity became illegal? Would I have the courage of Marcus? Would I be willing to help even if I didn't fully believe? Would I struggle with the decision on who to save and who to leave behind? All very good questions and decisions these people had to make. Every argument and debate rang true in some way that I could even empathize with the ones who struggled to believe. And it was all wrapped up in an engrossing story that kept me turning pages into the night.
Why? The story line is a little scary because you can almost see it happening today. I truly hope this series hasn't come to an end. So many more things I would like to see happen, taken care of, release or jailed. Maybe the masses need reeducation rather than the minority. Who? Anyone and everyone should read this series. Besides being a great story the investigative work put into it shows great care by Ms. Stevens. It also reminded us what Christians should look like and be like. Waiting for Haven Seekers Book 5. Thank you, Ms. Stevens.
I finished books 2-4 of this series in one week. I was sick, and home from work, so I didn't have much to do but read and knit. I find it hard to read the fourth book of any series because by about the middle of the last one I am ready for the story to just be over. This series was no exception, but I was so invested in the characters and their safety that I really had to finish all the books. I recommend the series for anyone who likes the "Left Behind" or "Thief in the Night" serials, and who is especially interested in where the persecution of Christians in America might lead.
I was happier getting back to Marcus's point of view in this book. But, this book unfortunately did not live up to my Book 1 experience. I get it that a lot of things needed to be brought to a close, but I was left unsatisfied by the story telling.
After all that's said and done, Amanda is a wonderful author and her debut series makes me look forward to more books from her.
I am sad to see this series end. I have loved the writing and the wonderful story. The characters were fantastic and I shall miss them! It also made me realize how we take our freedoms for granted. Freedoms we may not have one day. Would I be willing to risk all to follow my Savior? He is indeed worthy!
While I loved the premise , the characters and the early struggles, Book 3 and 4 could have easily been combined into one book (and should have). There is only so much "slice of life" you can take, even if it takes place in the religiously intolerant future.
A fitting conclusion to the series. I kept hoping that Clay (Hansen?) and his family would leave Michigan, too, but maybe that will be covered in the next (hint, hint) series. I would also like to find out what happens to Violet and Austin on their life journeys.
Loved the whole series. Got book 3 for free from one of my monthly deals things, and enjoyed it so much I bought the first one. Couldn't stop reading until the end. Sorry this is the last one of the series. Hope there's more to come.