Welcome to Willow Ridge, Missouri! In this cozy Amish town along the banks of the river, the Old Ways are celebrated at the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café,
and love is a gift God gives with grace.
Last fall I read my first Amish romance, mostly out of curiosity over the popularity of the genre, and discovered a new kind of heroine - a woman who balances independence and strength with the "plain" ways of her religion, which requires obedience and submission. Through a blog tour arranged by Tracee of Review From Here, I got the chance to try another story of the Amish life - Summer of Secrets, the first volume of the Seasons of the Heart series by Charlotte Hubbard.
The story centers around the return of a daughter lost during a flash flood nearly 20 years earlier. The contrast of the two sisters who were raised in the Amish faith with the sister who was raised by the Englisher couple who rescued her, makes this a fascinating story. It was easy to empathize with Rebecca as she tried to reconcile the modern lifestyle in which she was raised, with it's freedom, technology and relaxed morals, and the lifestyle and beliefs of her birth family. I'll confess to being drawn to that lifestyle myself. Although I know I wouldn't make it a week without computers, TV, and other electrical conveniences, the simplicity of the Amish ways draws me - making this an especially intriguing story. The ending wraps up the major controversies in a satisfying way, while still leaving enough loose tendrils to make the reader curious about the next installment.
Summer of Secrets combines romance, a little suspense and several moral lessons to make a compelling story. One of my favorite lines comes near the end when Miriam, the mother, is being chastised by the church leaders:
"Tis a gift to realize that, just when ya feel you've hit rock bottom, ya have - for sure and for certain - landed on the Rock, indeed. It's God's own hand you're sittin' in."
I received a free, advanced copy of this book from the author, as part of the blog tour. Thanks Charlotte and Tracee for incuding me in the tour.