The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

Brimming with spiritual truths and the author’s wild imagination, Reluctant Queen is a book that is engaging and beautiful as the one from the scripture.

When a decree becomes enforceable and the news is spread across the kingdom to everyman to kill and destroy all Jews, there rises from the tumult a brave orphan woman who breaks through the glass ceiling as she fights to become a wife of the ancient Persian king of kings. She must rely on her intuition, faith, and the goodness of his fellow Jews to shine through the darkness of manipulation and power and save her people from extinction.

Reluctant Queen is the rare plotline that not only matches but perhaps outshines the story of Esther in the scripture. Lin Wilder has proven to be an exceptionally skilled writer, able to handle both deep human connection and incredible action sequences around this sensitive matter, effectively imparting a heavily important message of humanity out into the world. She successfully captivates her readers with her expertise in both the scripture and the Jewish tradition and culture. Reluctant Queen is a perfect reflection of this author’s pride, passion, and talent.

Lin Wilder is the author of the award-winning ancient novels I, Claudia, and My Name is Saul.

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT at Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. During her thirty-plus years in academic healthcare administration, Lin authored numerous texts in these fields.

She began writing fiction after leaving her Hospital Director position at UMASS Medical Center. Since then, Lin has received many awards for her two series of novels. Her medical mystery series include: The Fragrance Shed By A Violet, Do You Solemnly Swear? A Price for Genius and Malthus Revisited. Plausible Liars, the fifth in the Dr. Lindsey McCall mystery series, is scheduled for release in 2022.

Lin’s ancient novel series includes I, Claudia, and My Name is Saul. The third in that series, and her latest novel, The Reluctant Queen, took first place for historical and religious fiction in Feathered Quill’s Best Books of 2022. In addition, her memoir, Finding the Narrow Path, recounts her journey away from God and back again.

Lin lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and dogs.

London Book Reviews

The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

The Reluctant Queen was a beautiful retelling of the story of Esther. I enjoyed how the author, Lin Wilder, kept Esther true to her Jewish faith and was able to give her and Xerxes a love story of their own. There were a few differences between The Reluctant Queen and the biblical story of Queen Esther, but these differences supported the plot of the story and kept me guessing at what was going to happen next. I was a bit disappointed that the author took out the biblical story of Haman leading Mordecai out on a horse and honoring him, but there were other exciting encounters between Esther and Atossa, Xerxes’ mother. Although there are some parts where the plot drags a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. My advice is to keep reading through the slow parts. The ending is worth it!


The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

“Wilder is no stranger to writing historical fact. With The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther, Wilder has another winner. She perfectly blends the historical facts with well-developed supporting characters to create a riveting story.

Even readers that know the story of Esther from the Bible will find themselves eagerly anticipating the next page of the story. When an author can command interest of a story that the reader already knows the ending to, that is true literary skill. Wilder excels at this with The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther.

Quill says: Wilder has again penned a top-notch historical fact story with The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther. Her writing is fast-paced and intriguing and will leave the reader longing for more.

The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

While reading, it reaffirmed my faith in humanity and the power of God. The plot moved at a great pace, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. If you’re looking for an inspiring read, pick up The Reluctant Queen - The Story of Esther. If you’re a historical fiction reader, you’ll want to read The Reluctant Queen - The Story of Esther. If you’re an ancient historical romance reader, you’ll thoroughly enjoy The Reluctant Queen - The Story of Esther. A brilliantly written novel on one of the most important figures in Christianity and Judaism, The Reluctant Queen - The Story of Esther is a must-read.

NN Light

The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

The Reluctant Queen: The Story of Esther is a historical novel based upon the biblical story of Esther, a Jewish girl who became the wife of a king, and risked her life to save her people from massacre. Award-winning author Lin Wilder brings history to unforgettably vivid life, from the perspective of an intelligent, courageous, and compassionate woman. The Reluctant Queen is highly recommended for both personal and public library Historical Fiction collections.

November 2021 Midwest Book Review

The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

The story is told mostly in the first person, from Esther’s point of view, giving the plot development a very personal touch. Lin’s novel is a brilliant mixture of reality, fiction, descriptive narrative, believable dialogue – all with a sound knowledge of ancient Persian history. Add a little romance, conflict, battles, and discord, and this story has all the makings of an ancient scroll. Powerful!

Readers Favorite

The Reluctant Queen - 5 Stars

Lin Wilder is one of the few authors who have found a way to recreate a popular historical figure without changing their story or eliminating historical accuracy. Esther's emotional yet powerful story will bring readers closer to one of the most important figures in Judaism and Christianity. For those who love historical fiction, The Reluctant Queen by Lin Wilder will prove to be a poignant read with lots of twists and turns. This book is a complete package with adventures, emotional and psychological depth, and prose that is as descriptive as it is fascinating, capturing the culture of a historical moment with unwonted elegance.

The Book Commentary

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

As I was reading, I could not help but feel that while some writers have been inspired to write directly about “religion” Wilder’s is of the creative side. And what can be more effective than the creative way, right? This is especially true when it comes to a topic that can be passed on to some people.

Personally, I feel blessed to have come across the book at the perfect time in my life. This may sound a bit cheesy but I have been enduring a dry spell in my faith journey due to a recent loss of a loved one. I feel so lost and lonely I often cry at night. But when I have read about Saul of Tarsus in this book by Lin Wilder, I cannot help but feel comforted in the fact that what we know of as pain and suffering are roads to being with the one true God.

The learnings that I have gained here are beyond your typical knowledge or even wisdom. I learned not only about this world but of the world after this life. I believe that is the most important lesson of this life and the afterlife.

In My Name is Saul, I have found refuge.

Donna Perez

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

I didn’t even know that Saul was St. Paul the Apostle until I read the book. This really made me pay attention to things that matter but I would not even mind otherwise. I am personally thankful to the author for this. The value that it brings to people and will still bring to future readers cannot be measured on earth.

I felt honored and was more than happy to know Paul as Saul through the author’s creative portrayal. Your appreciation of a person is different when it is at a more personalized and humanized level. Even in something as simple as Saul’s horse Karisma or his elder sister Esther.

Saul was born to a successful textile businessman. I was ecstatic to learn about the Jewish lifestyle, traditions, and celebrations especially his childhood. A favorite line goes, “The man had an inner serenity that no execrable words or deeds of mine could disturb”.

I believe the author was able to successfully achieved what she intended the book for.

Emmalee Cross

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

I find this to be a historical fiction of superior quality to satisfy even the strictest of readers. You will not question what is written in this book because you will be so immersed in it and how it was competently composed.

I daresay that Lin Wilder is a prolific and passionate author with so much talent and for sure, so many more books to write.

The most heart-wrenching for me though with My Name Is Saul in the early parts of the book was the earthquake that took the life of Saul’s loved ones. A quote from the book that still haunts me goes, “Even still, I could smell it … the awful fragrance of death.”

I felt for him and him quoting Job in a similar experience of heavy grief made it all the more unbearable. Saul’s wife was even pregnant with their second child at that time. But you gotta read the book to find out more.

Kathy Lewis

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

I know of Lin Wilder as the fearless author of I Claudia and I can see here that she has continued with her ancient world series, bringing the truths about the past to life. Wilder’s perspective as an author has always been uniquely inspired – the subjects are so unique, you can almost say you do not encounter them often. No wonder she is a successful author. Consistently, she has exhibited a flair of writing and utmost creativity.

Wilder brings the best of femininity into her writing. Her expressiveness, devotedness, sensitivity, resiliency, and empathy have shown yet again in My Name is Saul. I believe it to be a story of friendship, love, and the journey of our faith. There is no such thing as an overnight saint or follower of Christ. But the beauty is in that journey that, if we chose to take, can be as fulfilling and rewarding as that of Paul’s.

James Williams

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

Saint Paul is the greatest convert of all and this book, My Name Is Saul, tells you how and why.

The book opens with Saul who has been “empowered by the high priest and council of Sanhedrins to arrest the followers of Jesus”. He even called him a powerless carpenter and a faker. I see this as not the typical shallow indoctrination and dogmatism that is typical in the catholic church. I am a Roman Catholic and I sometimes get frustrated by how it works and how it brings you far away from your faith instead of closer. But here, I believe that this is how Christianity should be portrayed and taught. It has to be experiential and not some forced doctrine.

This is the story of one man’s faith journey that many of us can relate to at various levels. I really recommend you read it too for yourself.

James Greene

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

This is my first time to read a Lin Wilder masterpiece and it had me scrambling for her other books.

Wilder has this calm, assuring way of communicating to readers that makes you want to trust her to lead you into the path that is her story.

Saul of Tarsus seemed at first like a faithful man. But life can get you and shake your faith. He had important influences growing up. David, his father in particular was very supportive of him. But spirituality goes beyond that and the real test is outside in the real world. Find out more about Saul as he experiences love, friendship, religious politics, business, as well as the dark side of life…but also his transformation and last night of triumph.

Nancy Baker

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

Wilder’s is the kind of writing that you immediately enjoy with no worries for quality degradation or dissatisfaction. You simply immerse into the story like a good movie you can watch. But really, this is more substantial than your average movie. This made me really look up to the author and had me curious about all the other books she has written.

Anyway, with regards to this particular book, it is a charmer for historical fiction. Certainly, I would recommend it if you are looking for a profound read. The story of Saul’s life side by side him, as Paul with Aurelius in Mamertine prison is both strategic and enchanting.

I enjoyed reading this book with all its emotional and intellectual impact. Highly recommended!

Karen Gonzalez

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

The most interesting book of the ancients that I’ve ever read!

I’m not into old stuff. Even with my choice of furniture, I would like shiny, brand new, and modern against the priciest of antique. So I must admit that I was hesitant to read this book at first. When I got to the foreword through and read about Aurelius Maximus, the legionnaire of the Roman Empire, and how he became scribe to Paul of Tarsus at the Mamertine Prison, my perspective changed big time. I also liked it that Saul had a tutor and rabbis to teach him. I wish I was born in that era.

There was never a dull moment, my interest was constantly piqued!

This was a journey to the past that has become my favorite for all time.

Aileen Kerr

My Name is Saul - 4.5 Stars

Talk about superb timing. This book is hitting the shelves right before Easter and this would make an ideal addition to every family celebrating. My Name is Saul should be a companion piece for everyone celebrating the rebirth this Spring.

The author, once more, has breathed life into two-dimensional people of the past. You will come to better know, understand, appreciate and love Apostle Paul with this work. Brilliantly researched and presented in an unique style, this book reads like a sermon from your beloved minister or one you once watched on TV: Billy Graham. A divine work that is another feather in the cap of this author.

Be warned: if you are not proficient with the New Testament, you might find it a bit hard sailing at times. Those who are strong in the Christian faith will love this book and it is a must-read.

N.N Light

My Name is Saul - 5 Stars

I associate Lin Wilder with the Lindsey McCall series but she also wrote a memoir and another novel of the ancient world before this one. Because of this, I have known of Wilder and her award-winning, heart-capturing versatility to explore various genres and actually excel at them.

If there is one significant thing that I have learned from this particular book, it is that the greater the experience of what seems to be suffering, the deeper the faith. If you are experiencing the greatest of loss, when you come out of it, your faith in God will be strongest – as painful or as impossible as that may sound.

The story of Saul of Tarsus may be the only book you will need to read in this lifetime to succeed in the afterlife.

Oliver Jones

I, Claudia - 4 Stars

The somewhat untold fictional story based on real historical events during one of the most infamous times in human history. This novel explores the story of the persecution of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the wife of the man who ultimately sentenced him to death, Pontius Pilate.

This story does a fantastic job of showing that despite history painting Pilate as a villain, he was actually a very wise and valiant man who, with the support of his patient and earnest philosophical wife Claudia, did everything to try and save Jesus from the High priests.

This story is a fantastic retelling of one of the most famous times in history. You get to explore the rise of Pontius Pilate and see the human side of him that the gospels leave mainly untold. Plus, much of the story focuses on his wife and her upbringing and events that led her to becoming the woman beside one of the most vilified rulers in the bible.

This story goes into the heart and mind of the man history has held responsible for the fall of the son of god, and the woman who many believed sat idly by and allowed it to happen. Whilst being technically historical fiction, the plot line and events are very believable and with the fantastic background stories of the main characters being explained properly, you begin to really connect with Pontius and Claudia very early on.

There is a good dose of suspense and romance sprinkled through the adventure and by the end of it you actually feel genuine sorrow for Claudia and Pontius Pilate because the author did such a remarkable job of making these historical villains into suffering humans just like all of us.

With the weight of the world on their shoulders, they managed to make the right decisions time after time and you are rooting for them the entire way through the story, hoping for them to succeed and not let the problems of the Empire destroy the idealistic world they created.

Literary Titan

Malthus Revisited - 5 Stars

A threat that most readers can see as a real possibility considering how far science and technology has progressed. Coupled with down to earth characters that you feel a real connection to make this book an outstanding ‘end of world’ saga that has your heart racing right till the end. While overtly spiritual in it’s plot, even the most atheist person could come to enjoy this story because it is a masterful blend of science and religion. With horrifying villains and inspiring heroes plus a few characters who you are never quite sure of which side of the good versus evil fight they stand on, this story is well worth the read.

This book takes a little while to explain how the prologue fits into the narrative but after you see how it all comes together and with various chapters outlining the back stories of the various characters, you begin to understand why the author took time in slowly building toward the most eventful parts of the story.

Once you understand how everything fits together, it takes you on an edge of your seat ride where you wonder how things will turn out. Each character has their part to play and readers get to see both the best and worst aspects of each character, which allows you to become invested in their adventure more deeply than you usually would for a fictional story.

There are a few repeated phrases and words that could have been left out or replaced with a simplified explanation but the intensity of the plot line and anxiety inducing obstacles that are thrown in the way of the main characters do enough to make you forget these minor annoyances.

If you want a thrilling story that takes you to the depths of what an evil mind can cause in this world with the excitement of whether the heroes can triumph. This is a book for you.

My best piece of advice to any would be reader is to make sure you don’t give up on the slow build up toward the real plot because it is well worth the wait and actually helps you understand and feel more invested in the entire story.

Literary Titan

Synopsis: St. Paul the Apostle is a towering biblical figure, but almost nothing is known about his early life as Saul of Tarsus.

As death loomed over him at Mamertine Prison in Rome, under the watchful eye of his jailer and final follower Aurelius, he wrote: "I will die tomorrow. In the morning, around sunrise. There are two things for which I am eminently grateful: That I have been permitted to have fought the good fight and finished the race marked out for me; and that I will not have to endure another winter in this place."

A novel that deftly blends historical fact with an engaging literary creativity, "My Name Is Saul" by Lin Wilder propels her readers back through time to the life of the man who would become known for the next two thousand years as St. Paul. Her vividly imagined, well-founded tale of loss, transformation, and divine intervention will captivate Christians and non-Christians alike who yearn for the human truth and drama that underlay the New Testament scriptures.

Critique: A simply riveting and truly memorable read from cover to cover, "My Name Is Saul" showcases author Lin Wilder's impressive literary gifts as a natural and accomplished storyteller. While "My Name Is Saul" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Name Is Saul" is also readily available in a digital book format.

Midwest Book Review

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

I considered it the definition of ironic to be asked about whether a book is too controversial while reading a book that tries to put Pontius Pilate in a good light. That this book has been published should buck up every author that no subject is too 'out there'. Lin Wilder has stepped into historical fiction for the first time, but you couldn't tell from reading this instant classic.

Working up a creation of a life for Claudia was brilliant. The character is instantly adorable and one the reader can connect with and have empathy for. Lucius Pontius Pilate is given, what I believe is, the first fair treatment in the written history of man. As a numismatist who has studied ancient coins, I can state the biographical info surrounding this 'controversial' figure is perfunctory at best.

This is an amazing tale. The historical content gleaned from years of dedicated research is superb. You can literally feel the breeze against a tunic as you read about the characters walking in Judea. The focal point of the book, the arrest, persecution and prosecution of Jesus, brought tears to my eyes.

This is a book that discusses key aspects of world religion in the context of its larger story but this isn't a religious book. The author never preaches. The author engenders a deeper understanding of this time period then I think has ever been written before.

A sublime and glorious book I would give it 1,000,000 stars but I am held to 5+. Magnificent and should be read by everyone with a pulse.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in the hopes I'd review it.

My Rating: 5+ stars

Mr. N

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

Lin Wilder is a tremendously good author, on the highest tiers of quality, and with her books, you are always treated to a masterclass in author research for fiction. “I, Claudia” revels in this, giving Lin the perfect vehicle to apply this trade – and “trade” is the perfect word to describe Lin’s work, as she goes about her business of historical research with the thoroughness of a data analyst. Additionally, if you were in any doubt about the credibility, she readily references all her sources, even in her works of fiction. With her experience of writing high quality, meticulously laboured books, she is a professional in the craft, infusing fictionally dramatized events with copious amounts of factual accuracy and terminology. It goes without saying that she also is a superb writer.

There are two halves to this book, and two contrasting paces to them. The first is something of a slow-burner, focusing mainly on the engagement and journey of young Claudia and her husband-to-be, Lucius Pontius Pilate, to their initial meeting and marriage, with occasional entertaining reminiscences about good and bad times in battle, by the latter. I was perhaps expecting, from the blurb, that the young wife would achieve extraordinary things in her own right, but this was not really the case with “I, Claudia”, as she simply tells in her words an eyewitness account of her husband’s fateful final years; with regard to Claudia Procula herself, there seems little to tell (and, as Lin honestly advises us, there is very little of her in historical literature).

Where this book really started to hook and draw me in was its second half, and the inevitable introduction of Christ into the life of the couple - from this moment on I was utterly engaged. Certainly, we all know Pilate from this primary source - his part in the persecution and execution of Jesus - but Lin admirably portrays Pilate as a decent and honourable man, put in an unenviable situation; she presents a good case that the Prelate’s notoriety is a great injustice and misinterpretation of history. She does this objectively and even with a hint of respect for the man, and this is to her huge credit, because I know the huge importance of Lin’s own Christian faith to her (this said, if she is multi-layered about Pilate, her contempt for King Herod is notable – a character she does not so much craft, as dollop like some odious caricature across the page. Fair play to her for this, however – it can be reasonably assumed that anybody who murders a reported 14,000 infants is generally revolting, in anybody’s book). I have to be honest and say that whilst I don’t doubt the professionalism in Pilate’s repeated attempts to exonerate Jesus, I wondered if Lin was perhaps a little too sympathetic and forgiving toward the Roman, perhaps over-optimistically assuming the devastating guilt he felt for his part in Christ’s torture and murder – this was, after all, a man whose job it was to dispense brutal justice, and one would therefore presume that he did so ruthlessly, on many occasions. Still, remorse is something we all need to believe in for our own peace of mind, no less so than a Christian, to whom forgiveness is paramount.

“I, Claudia” is fantastically vivid and descriptive, as Lin sets every scene, mood and feeling intricately, as though you are right there in the setting, and in the mind of the character. Her account of Christ’s ordeal does not wallow in the graphic detail, and indeed the majority of his suffering occurs off-page, but, via Lin’s quality, detailed writing, you feel his pain nonetheless, through proxy of the two main characters. These parts are hard to read and extremely heartbreaking; you want his end to have been different, but of course you know it will never be, no matter how many times you read. Whilst I am not myself a person of religious faith, I believe in the existence of Jesus the man, and am disturbed by the brutal nature of the torture I am certain he suffered, before he died; I am in little doubt that Lin, like billions before her, has suffered for him – yet, she presents his end only with love, hope and forgiveness. And, that is, of course, the whole point of this semi-fictional book.

Lin is a very intelligent, articulate author, with a tremendous vocabulary, and most certainly a trustworthy source of factual detail. Whether for historical reference about Pilate, or purely for literary entertainment, “I, Claudia” is a wonderful book to read – Lin’s best, in my opinion – and I enjoyed it hugely.

Matt McAvoy

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

I, Claudia is an insightful novel of the ancient world, the story of Claudia Procula, wife of Lucius Pontius Pilate. The narrative begins with a glimpse of Claudia's childhood. The suspense rises as she is about to meet Lucius, her betrothed. As Claudia adjusts to her new role and the politics of the area become impassioned, she wrestles with life, as her husband, Lucius Pontius Pilate, is forced to make difficult decisions.

Author Lin Wilder engages readers to join Claudia on an insightful and emotional journey in her novel, I, Claudia, a historical adaption from an almost silent perspective of the events of the ancient days of Jesus’s crucifixion. How does Claudia feel about her husband, his decisions, and her world in general? Read, I, Claudia, to embrace the unique experience of being the wife to one of the most monumentally conflicted men in history.

I love I, Claudia! This novel is a perfect blend of decription, emotion, expression, and historical connection. Reading from the shifting perspectives of Claudia and Lucius is instantly engaging. The author creates a deep connection between the characters and her readers, while painting the backdrop with elegantly crafted prose that brings the story to life.

I read this aloud to my children, who are ages 11 to 18, and they did not appreciate my taking breaks between readings. It is definitely a story that is difficult to put down! I've never read anything by Lin Wilder before, but I am excited to be a new fan of this author.

Litpick Book