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Francis Williams
Saving Christ: Starway Seven

Adult; Romance; (Market)

A modern day woman is sent back in time to be with Jesus during the last seven days of his life. A strong and pure love forms between them. This is a new and fresh telling of the greatest story ever told. Experience Christ in a way no one has ever dared to write about.
The second novel from Williams boasts a premise certain to provoke a reaction: “a love story between Jesus and a modern-day woman sent back in time.” While Saving Christ has been categorized as a romance, readers should not expect the passionate clinches the genre’s known for. Most of the kisses are to feet and hands, in the chastely worshipful way of Bible stories, though protagonist Jennifer, a 30-year-old FBI agent with a degree in comparative religions, does inspire in the Jesus of the Gospels a taste for Chanel body lotion. The story’s high concept might seem playful, and Williams does offer some spirited comedy, but the execution is thoughtful and even pious. While Jennifer is often seen by many ancients as either an angel or temptress, Saving Christ never depicts Jesus as tempted by flesh or a chance to avoid a redeemer’s faith.

That’s in spite of Jennifer’s desire to talk Jesus out of surrendering to the Romans. In fact, in the present, the president himself has tasked Jennifer and her contemporary companions with convincing Jesus not to die—and to come back with them to today. (And if Jesus doesn’t agree? “We’ll kidnap Him,” the president declares.) But once she’s in the ancient world, Jennifer, who has never committed to faith, grows close to Jesus in the days before the crucifixion, even as she strives not to reveal that she’s from the future. Williams plays that both for comedy but also pathos, as Jennifer encounters disciples, family members, and other familiar figures who do not know what she does about Jesus’s fate.

The surprise is that Jennifer eventually yearns to talk Jesus out of that destiny for her own reasons. But Williams’ interests are not in what-if?s about the life of Jesus, whose resolve to self sacrifice is only firmed up by story’s end. Williams is after how Jesus changes Jennifer. Believers open to the premise will find this a warm, polished, faith-affirming read.

Takeaway: Faith-affirming time-travel adventure of a contemporary woman meeting Jesus.

Comparable Titles: Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth’s The Day I Met Jesus, Gary M. Burge’s A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B+