It’s impossible … It simply doesn’t happen … And certainly not to me …

Or so I thought … Lightning doesn’t strike twice or does it … I can’t remember …

What am I referring to you ask … Reading a romance novel, yes me, actually reading a romance novel, willingly and even more amazingly, finishing it. I honestly thought the last one I read, “Love Story” by Erich Segal, a gazillion years ago, and at the behest of a female that I cared for at the time, would have been the first and last one I’d read, unless you count “Romeo and Juliet” read in high school, begrudgingly.

“The Religion of the Heart” by DM Miller, captured me almost immediately after reading just the first few pages and I found it so compelling that I felt as though I simply had to read more, which surprised me to be quite truthful. I tend to read what I do read, late at night, when it’s quiet and there are no distractions. There were indeed some rather late nights and bleary tired eyes because of this novel, as I literally couldn’t put the book down. As an aside and somewhat germane to this review, when I was an AM radio talk host and I received a book to review prior to interviewing a guest on air, I’d read the flyleaf and perhaps a chapter or two to get the flavor and then put it down, for good. But this time it was somehow refreshingly and amazingly different.

I found the two main characters to be genuinely likable and as the story unfolded, I learned more and more about them and their own unique personalities, as they tried to move forward and overcome the many often difficult obstacles placed before them on their path toward becoming a couple. As other characters were introduced, I found they too and their unique roles were also well developed and defined.

Ms Miller crafted a finely woven story about two very young people that fell in love, at first sight. You say it’s been done and there are many, many stories about “love at first sight” and you, I’m rather certain would be correct. But please understand the reason I’m saying, “I’m rather certain”, is because, and I can’t stress this enough, I don’t read these kind of things. Until now …

This is the story of Catherine, a Jew, raised in the Judeo-Christian West, and Abdul, a Muslim, whose family at the time of their first meeting resided in Egypt. Their story is about the continual clash of cultures and religions, and it is told with a gentle persuasiveness that compels you to want to know more and to do so by reading more. The author is extremely learned on these matters and it is evident from the very beginning. This isn’t merely a fluffy feel good story that when you finish, you wonder why you bothered to read it, other than perhaps to escape momentarily. You will I’m certain, while reading it, learn something that you previously did not know, which is a genuinely nice bonus.

Ms Miller’s compassion is forever throughout and at many points in the telling I felt as though this was somehow my own personal story, at least certain parts of it. It is on many levels very relatable and I so thoroughly enjoyed that fact. I got it … and when the story is “real” or so it surely seemed, you believe and want to know more and read more.

This plot and character driven work of the heart, takes place over the course of a decade, and begins when Catherine and Abdul first meet, which was for but a fleeting moment and while they were very young. It goes on from there and tells of the epic and continual clashes between their seemingly incompatible and conflicted families. The difficulties encountered at every turn along their troubled journey is so well told and so well woven that metaphorically I would liken the author to a master tailor, who understands every nuance and the very essence of each and every thread that makes up a perfectly finished and most elegant garment. And this story was indeed, most elegant …

I really don’t want to give away much more of the story as I want you, my readers here, to discover the intricacies, the laughter, the tears, the longing, the frustration, the anguish, the angst and the seemingly so very real drama that unfolds before you in this very skillfully parsed very contemporary and very fresh novel.

“The Religion of the Heart” is suitable for a very wide demographic and will appeal to anyone with an ounce of romance in their soul and able to comprehend the rather evident complexities represented by the two seemingly disparate religions and cultures. This is a book for both men and women. And I assure you that you will not only thank me for writing this review, but also the author, DM Miller, for crafting this most marvelous book.

The book is available as either a trade paperback (my preference, as I like to embrace the written words, literally) or as an eBook. The direct link to the book on Amazon is “The Religion of the Heart”, and it would, I assure you, make an excellent gift for anyone who is a voracious reader.

Please do enjoy … I know I surely did. (And still shaking my head, me, reading and thoroughly enjoying a romance novel)