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In the first book of her Treasures of the Earth series, set in the late 1800s in Wyoming Territory during The Great Dinosaur Rush, or Bone Wars, author Kimberly Woodhouse introduces readers to the competition, corruption, and intrigue employed by rival groups headed up by men like Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh. Devious means and cutthroat methods characterized the agendas of these groups as they sought to ensure that they were the first to discover new species of dinosaurs. Woodhouse also explores how then, and still today, women face discrimination when they pursue careers in paleontology.

Since 21-year-old Anna Lakeman was a child, she had accompanied her paleontologist father on his numerous digs. Gifted as an artist, she assisted him by sketching his fossil finds. Now, when a flash flood unlike any in recent memory near their home exposes what could possibly be a major fossil discovery, Anna and her father are thrilled. But when Anna’s father becomes ill and is bedridden for months, Anna becomes the dig supervisor, facing her own insecurities, the hostility of some, and the gratifying support of others.

Joshua Ziegler returns to his home from Chicago, where he’s been for three years studying to become a medical doctor. He can’t get Anna and their shattered relationship out of his mind. When he takes tentative steps to make amends with her and renew their courtship, he discovers that relational brokenness and other more terrifying past wounds—his sister Mary went missing 10 years ago and her body was never discovered—aren’t easily healed and still have an impact on his efforts.

Anna and Joshua each pray for God’s help as they repeatedly flounder, then try again to forgive and understand each other. When Joshua’s young nephew goes missing and, at the same time, Anna’s relationship with Julian, an odd man with a broken past, develops in a seemingly healthy, yet bizarre way, Anna and Joshua’s relationship is strained to the breaking point, and they face a crisis like they never could have imagined.

This historical romance geared to a female audience explores the struggles of women who follow paths not traditionally mapped out for their gender, reveals the protagonists’ spiritual struggles and relationship with God, reflects briefly on the connection between faith and science, and explores the connection between trauma, mental illness, and spiritual battles. However, the novel’s character development and plot are at times weakened and less believable because of the repeated use of protagonists’ prayers and what can appear to be quick-fixes through the presentation of the gospel to solve complex mental and spiritual realities. (Bethany House Publishers)

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