Charlotte Hubbard writes Amish fiction with characters who engage and excite, or infuriate--like a snake oil salesman that I'm waiting for him to get his come-uppance. In her latest offering, Harvest of Blessing, Nora has decided to return to her hometown of Willow Ridge after a broken marriage in the English world. She wants to be reconciled to her family and to acknowledge the daughter she gave up sixteen years ago. The only problem is Nora's Dat--Gabe Glick refuses to accept her apology or even acknowledge her--to her mother's dismay.
Nora bought Hiram Knepp's farm and opened a can of worms for herself. Hiram is the excommunicated bishop of the area, but now is a rather sleazy snake oil salesman who lives just this side of the law--he's bad enough to shake people up, but not so bad as to be convicted. I guess that now and then a book has to have a person in it the reader loves to hate, just for the contrast to the other characters.
When Nora goes to Miriam's Sweet Season's Bakery to see her father and ask his forgiveness, he calls her Satan and yells at her to leave. The more the reader goes into the book, the more Gabe stiffens his neck against her until the current bishop, Tom, calls a meeting for the family to hear what Nora has to say. Gabe believes that Nora played fast and loose with her morals and when Nora tells the real story, it comes out that she was molested by a former bishop. She had been sent to live with her aunt who turned her out after her daughter was born. She gave her daughter to her newly married brother who raised Millie as his own, but with the same strictness his own father had demonstrated. Now, sixteen years later she's back and her father's actions have given the whole community something to talk about.
The only thing I didn't like about the book is the way Luke Hooley tries to ingratiate himself into Nora's life and succeeds. He seems rather slimey in the beginning but as his character develops he is a real friend to Nora, and even begins falling in love with her. Luke's character development in the book is the weakest part of the book, but it doesn't stop the reader from enjoying the whole book.
One thing that Nora wants to do is to open a store with gifts that the Amish and Mennonite crafters make for tourists to come and buy. With the help of Miriam's daughter, Rebecca, and her ability to set up websites, Nora works hard to get her business off the ground. In the meantime, Hiram does his level best to thwart her efforts by either creating discord or insinuating himself into her life, both efforts Nora rebuffs.
A real bonus is the recipes included at the back of the book and also on Charlotte's website. I am diabetic, but I have been learning to adjust recipes so that I can still have treats. These recipes are great and easily adjustable for me.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and one of Miriam's Cinnamon Rolls to get you through the day.
Zebra Books has kindly allowed me to read and review this book. My thanks to them.