Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Captive Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Captive Heart
Bethany House (January 1, 2012)
Dale Cramer


Dale Cramer spent his formative years traveling the world as an Army brat, then settled in Georgia at the age of fifteen when his father retired.

After high school he became an electrician, a job that took him to places as diverse as power plants, stadia, airports, high-rise office buildings and a hard-rock mining operation.

Twenty-five years of experiences in the trades provided him with the wealth of characters, stories and insights that populate his novels.

When he married his childhood friend, Pam, in 1975 he had no way of knowing they would not have children until fifteen years later.

In his early forties, when Dale left his job to become a stay-at-home dad, he suddenly found himself with time on his hands, so he pursued a lifelong dream and taught himself to write.

Using an online writer’s forum as a training ground, he wrote his first short stories in 1996. As his writing skills improved he turned to novels, publishing his first book, Sutter’s Cross, in 2003.

Since then, Dale has published four more novels and garnered a measure of critical acclaim with two Christy Awards, a listing among Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2004 and numerous other Best lists. Dale and his wife Pam live in Georgia with their two sons.


Bandit troubles intensify as Caleb Bender's family tries to settle into their new life in 1920s Paradise Valley. When El Pantera kidnaps Rachel and leaves her brother, Aaron, for dead, Jake Weaver and the Mexican native Domingo pursue the bandit leader to his mountain stronghold in a hopeless rescue attempt. Jake and Domingo manage to escape with Rachel, with the bandits hot on their trail. In a desperate attempt to avoid recapture, Domingo puts himself squarely in harm's way, giving Jake and Rachel time to get away. This is not the quiet life Caleb Bender envisioned when he led his family out of Ohio. What is a father to make of his daughter's obvious affection for a man outside the fold? And how will a pacifist Amishman like Caleb respond to the events that threaten his family and their way of life?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Captive Heart, go HERE

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer is the second book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series about an Amish man in 1920 who moves his family to rural Mexico in hopes of escaping religious persecution in the United States only to encounter difficulties and loss he never could have imagined. Miriam, his second eldest daughter is still struggling with her feelings for Domingo, a Nahua who has helped the family settle in to Paradise Valley, but in order to please her family she allows Micah to court her. Rachel, the youngest daughter, has settled into a happy courtship with Jake. As more families move into the valley, courting couples anxiously await the arrival of a pastor so they can get married. But El Pantera, the bandit who caused trouble for Caleb and his family in the first novel isn't through with them, and he certainly hasn't forgotten his humiliation at Domingo's hands. Cramer ups the ante in this novel by ratcheting up the tension and action. There is a hopelessness among the Amish as they try to face the absolute evil of a man with no morals without resorting to violence. I felt my nerves stretch as El Pantera struck again and again, each time pushing them a little farther until he finally snaps in an explosion of violence that left me breathless and heartbroken. Cramer really allows the reader to feel the helplessness of the Bender family in the face of evil, clinging bravely to the prayer that Gott will hear them. One warning to readers: don't pick this novel up unless you have the next several hours free, because it is impossible to put down once you start. I can't wait to see what happens next to the Amish of Paradise Valley.