The End Begins, by Sara Davison (Ashberry Lane, 2015)
In the year 2053, after terrorist attacks on Canadian mosques are blamed on Christians, martial law leads to increasingly strict restrictions on Christian behaviour and activity. Bibles are one of the first things to be outlawed.
For bookstore owner Meryn O’Reilly, this strikes at her livelihood as well as her faith. And if she can’t hold back her rebellious attitude, she’ll be in even more trouble.
On the other side of the issue is Army Captain Jesse Christensen, a decent man who, though he’s rejected his parents’ Christianity, doesn’t agree with what looks like the unjust treatment of law-abiding, church-going citizens – treatment he’s duty-bound to carry out.
Meryn and Jesse seem destined to meet at every turn, and neither can deny the unexpected attraction between them. But Meryn won’t consider a relationship with a man who doesn’t share her faith. Especially when, if he knew what she was doing, he’d have to arrest her.
The End Begins is book 1 in Sara Davison’s end times series, The Seven Trilogy. The writing is crisp, the plot tightly-woven and frighteningly plausible. The romance, plus a subtle thread of humour, keeps the tension from becoming too much.
What I most appreciate about the story is the way it brings its characters (and readers) to think about their responses to blatant hostility and aggression. Meryn is not by nature submissive, but she and her friends learn to choose their battles, and to return hatred with gentle strength. In other words, they learn to live like Jesus instead of insisting on their suddenly-trampled rights. Their grace-filled responses make a stronger impression on soldiers like Jesse than if they fought back.
Meryn struggles with anger toward the soldiers enforcing the government regulations. Prayer becomes her key to forgiveness, and she discovers that it’s “very difficult to bring someone before God and hold on to hatred at the same time.” [Kindle location 1450]
[Review copy from my personal library.]