I love two-for-one deals. I read these two books back to back and found myself surprised. Yep, surprised. They both fit the romance novel formula, but not in any of the expected ways.
Amy Lillard writes Amish romances and I don't choose these kinds of romances by default, but I will choose them to read for something a bit different. There are certain authors I will choose automatically. We all have our favorites, and I am no different.
In Katie's Choice, Zane Carson has come to live in the Amish community of Clover Ridge to write an expose' on Amish life. He was recovering from a gunshot wound and wanted to prove that he was ready to go back into the thick of things as a war correspondent. Abram and Ruth Fisher have opened their home to him to allow him the full flavor of living as an Amish. Abram and Ruth's daughter, Katie Rose, is living with Gabriel since his wife died in childbirth, and taking care of Gabriel's six children. Because Gabriel is Abram and Ruth's son, Katie Rose is bound to run into Zane. One thing about the Amish, their families, though large, are very close; and the community takes care of everyone there. Part of the plot was Ruth's struggle with cancer and the family's struggle to pay all the bills. The family was selling pickles to help pay the bills and replenish the community health fund coffers. John Paul, the Fisher's youngest son, was in his rumspringe and was working in a factory to put his wages in the health fund as well. Zane watched and worked with the Amish, who were fun-loving, and not opposed to a harmless practical joke or two. He learned of a faith that brought peace to the soul, a faith that withstood anything the world could throw at it, and a faith that was sustaining in any situation. He learned to pray, to care, to love as he had never loved before. The centerpoint of the book was the growing attraction between Katie Rose and Zane, an attraction that was growing into love. It took a while for the book to grab my heart, and really hook me in, but once it did, I laughed, I cried (more than once), and I rejoiced with the characters and their emotions. The pranks and practical jokes will have the reader laughing till tears come. The road through romance isn't a smooth one for Zane and Katie Rose, especially when a former beau shows up wanting Katie to take him back. Katie has a tough choice to make and no one makes it any easier for her.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a jar of Amish pickles.
Gabriel is in a fix after Katie Rose and Zane become engaged. His daughter left home suddenly for her rumspringe, and he has no one to help him take care of his home and his boys. Rachel's aunt Katherine has passed away and now the bank owns the home where Rachel has lived for the last ten or so years. Rachel has nowhere to go, and nowhere to take her goats. Rachel is not very adept at homemaking, but she is quite good at making cheese from her goats' milk. Gabriel offers her a job taking care of his home and boys, and offers to allow her to keep her goats. The wrench in the works comes when the bishop tells Gabriel it is not right for Rachel to live under his roof. The only choice they have to keep their arrangement is for Rachel to become Gabriel's bride. Amy Lillard continues the story of Clover Ridge with another of the Fisher children finding true love, but in the most unexpected way. Gabriel gets married first and then falls in love later, and the same order happens for Rachel. Rachel has one significant obstacle to overcome--Gabriel's middle sons don't want her taking their mother's place, and so sabotage her often: turning up the stove to burn what she's cooking, bringing in dirt to mess up the house after she's cleaned it, taking advantage of her fears, staining the clothes after she's laundered them. The worst act of sabotage sets the stage for Rachel to leave Gabriel and move to Ohio to live with her relatives. It takes the meddling of Rachel's cousin to get Gabriel to come get her and bring her home.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a loaf of goat cheese.
B&H publishing provided both of these books for me to read in exchange for my honest review.