I spent most of today washing clothes and reading, not the activities I would have chosen entirely, but it worked. My husband watched football.
I have decided that I have a couple of favorite Amish Romance authors: Cindy Woodsmall and Suzanne Woods Fisher. The book(s) I am reviewing today are by Cindy. The things they have in common are incredible characterizations, well developed plots, and true-to-life conflicts. I have read Amish fiction that puts the Amish people on a pedestal of perfection that is not possible in this life. It was easy for me to choose to read this book to review because Cindy does not do that, and to have the whole series in one cover, that's just bonus. The books read seamlessly from page one of book one to the last page of book three. Having them all together makes it easy to continue the story and keep up with the characters.
Cindy has written a book that encompasses several families, more than three romancing couples, some trouble for almost every character, and a satisfying ending for all of them. The story opens with Cara and Lori, mother and daughter, fighting to make a way in the Bronx, and hiding from a psychopathic stalker who has hounded her since she was a child in the foster care system. When the stalker shows up at her place, she gets out of town fast with nothing but her daughter and the clothes on their backs. She tries to remember a place her mother took her to when she was a just a child. It's fun to read to find out how Cara figures out where the place is she wants to go. Once in Dry Creek, she re-meets Ephraim who steps in to protect her when the bishop and the preachers want to pay Cara to leave.
Among the other characters is Mahlon and Deborah, Ephraim's sister.....Mahlon decides he can't stay in the Amish community or the Amish church. This decision devestates Deborah and Ada, Mahlon's mother; but Deborah decides to be Ruth for Ada, and together they pull themselves out of the grief of losing someone they both dearly loved. In the meantime the bills have to be paid and the way they are handling delivering the pies and baked goods to the bakeries is not working. With Cara's help and the brawn of a few friends, they decide they can do a roadside stand with seasonal Amish experiences for Englisch and other Amish people.
Lennie is Deborah's friend and the teacher at the Amish school in Dry Creek, and one of the best practical jokers in the community. It's hard to get one over on her, but it is possible. She does have one scholar who gives her grief just because he can, and because he trash-talks Lennie at home, his brother takes her on as his own special project to bring her down. In the attempts to harm Lennie, the scholar's brother causes the death of a different lady--in front of the children. The school board gets up tight when Lennie brings an Englisch counselor to the classroom to help the children work through their feelings and trauma.
In the meantime, Lennie's dad, Israel, finds that Ada is the woman who can fill that empty place in his soul for a mate.
Sylvia is one of nine daughters who loves her dairy farm and loves working with the cows. When her little sister takes her boyfriend from her and marries him, Sylvia looks for another dairy farm to work. When she comes to the Blank's farm, she meets up with Aaron Blank, who has just gotten out of rehab for alcohol addiction.
I've just hit the highest points of the three books that chronicles the lives of many Amish in two communities that are fairly close together. I've left out huge chunks of the plot that runs through all three books, the highs and lows of these people's lives, the spiritual growth and trials, and the meeting of the minds. Cindy has woven all this and more into her books without distracting from the story she is telling. She even goes into detail within the story of what it takes to join the Amish faith.
This is a Five Star, Two Thumbs Up, Amish Pastry kind of book.
Waterbrook/Multnomah provided this book in exchange for my honest review.