Wow. I read this book last night when I couldn't sleep (I'm nervous about going to uni, and no matter how much I logically know that there's no reason for me to be this nervous and there's not exactly much I can do about it, it doesn't seem to make any difference to the fact that I'm struggling to sleep), and I was seriously impressed. I don't often read romances (ie, almost never unless I have no other choice), but I got this one for my birthday so I thought I'd better read it. And wow. What a story. Powerful, moving, and intense, it's one of those books that will stick with you forever.
Set in Gold Rush California, it is, in effect, a modern retelling of the story of Hosea. For those of you not familiar with the story: God told Hosea to marry a prostitute and love her, because He loved Israel but Israel was acting like a prostitute, running off and being besotted with other gods instead of following God. But this story looks at the more personal consequences, for both the man, Michael Hosea, the prostitute, Angel, and others who interact with them. Stunningly well told, with gripping and intriguing characters, from the quiet strength--and sometimes angry passion--of Michael Hosea, to the bubbly Miriam, the initially aloof and scarred Angel, and the pimps, fellow prostitutes and a whole host of excellent supporting characters. Wow is about all I can say to sum it up. Even if you're not much into romances or historical novels, this is well worth a read. It's incredibly powerful, incredibly gripping, incredibly moving. I had tears in my eyes several times over, and am really glad I was given it--I doubt I would have read it otherwise.
I can't recommend this book enough. An excellent story from start to finish.