Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund - a book review

As with many Christian romance novels, this one follows a predictable pattern. The heroine, Annalisa, is left widowed and penniless with a child to support and another on the way. In comes the handsome hero, Carl, ready to save the day. The difference with this book is how the author tells the story. She makes you feel like you’re a part of the story with her realistic descriptions of the surroundings and customs of the day.

From the publisher’s website:

Michigan, 1880
Annalisa Werner's hope for a fairy tale love is over. Her husband failed her in every way and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm. She needs a plentiful harvest. That, and a husband to help bring it in. Someone strong, dependable. That’ll be enough. A marriage for love...that's something she's given up on.
So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

Then a man appears: Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany and a former schoolteacher--or so he says. He's looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.

With time running out, she accepts his help, but there's more to this man than he's admitting. He's also gentle, kind, charming--unlike any man she's ever known. But even as Carl is shining light into the darkness of her heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day.”
This story has it’s twists and turns and secrets. The characters are plentiful but not hard to keep track of and you get to grow along with them. Annalisa’s daughter is completely charming and you can’t help but love her. However, she seems very advanced for a two year old. Not very believable but still cute! The other thing I found a little disconcerting was the amount of physical intimacy between Annalisa and Carl. It made me a little uncomfortable with them not being married. It was still clean but went a little farther than I was expecting.

The characters rely deeply on their faith but the author isn’t ‘preachy’ about it. This is a story about history, customs, social issues like abuse and gambling, and Biblical principle of marriage.

The author includes, at the end of the book, a historical look at the events that she uses in the story.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall - a book review

I’ve always loved Cindy Woodsmall’s books.  She has a unique understanding of the Amish that comes from her personal relationship with them.  Go to her website and check out her other books.

 This book is the second in the series, Amish Vines and Orchards.  Woodsmall includes a “the story so far” section at the beginning if the book in case you hadn’t read the first one. This was very helpful because without it you are kind of thrown into the story midstream.  The main characters are portrayed very realistically, flaws and all. 

From the publisher:
“The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them?
 On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.
 Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally.
 Book 2 of the Amish Vines and Orchards series asks: can the three faithfully follow God’s leading and build a new home and orchard in Maine? Or will this new beginning lead to more ruin and heartbreak?”

This book is clearly written to be read in succession with the first and third books.  As much as I love her books, I was disappointed in how Woodsmall ended this one, or rather, how it didn’t end.  The reader is left hanging, with nothing much being resolved.  We still don’t know who Rhoda really loves, what all of her ‘visions’ mean, if the new community will survive, or what will happen with Jacob and his troubles from his past.  It does, however, leave you wanting to read the next one. Which, when you think about it, is probably the plan.  To be continued......when I read book three.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press  through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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