Reviewed by Susan E. Richardson

When Sarah was seven years old, her mother died. After that her father seemed to have no time or use for her, leaving her feeling rejected and unwanted. On her twelfth birthday she finally found a way to win her father’s approval. He discovered she had taught herself to read and began spending time with her, teaching her the scribe’s trade, including the many languages of the Persian empire.

Sarah’s cousin, Nehemiah, was the king’s cupbearer. He also took an interest in Sarah’s education, soon seeing her extraordinary abilities. When he heard the king and queen talking about the queen’s need for a skilled scribe, he told them about Sarah. Suddenly she went from an ordinary Jewish girl living a sheltered life to the palace with its protocol and intrigue.

Gifted at her job, Sarah quickly gains the queen’s favor, but her past still nags her. The only way she knows to be accepted is to perform well. God, like her father, must not have time for her unless she finds a way to win His favor. She lives in constant anxiety that she will not live up to expectations. Unexpected changes take her down new roads until Sarah finally learns to trust God and finds her own place.

Set after Esther’s reign, author Tessa Afshar brings the ancient Persian court to life in Harvest of Rubies. Historical tidbits make a fascinating addition without overwhelming the story. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy both the plot and setting.