Weddings at Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard (review by Cathy)

weddings at promise lodge

About the book:

Founded by the three Bender sisters, the Amish community of Promise Lodge is thriving–and growing. In fact, residents are thrilled to welcome a charismatic new arrival–one who may not just strengthen their faith, but put it to the test . . .

When Christine Bender meets widowed Bishop Monroe Burkholder, it’s love at first sight. But Preacher Amos finds him too good to be true, and is determined to find out what’s behind his sudden, unannounced arrival. Still, the colony needs a new bishop, and everyone is excited to have a younger, more progressive leader. As for Christine, Monroe returns her affection, but her bubble is soon burst with the arrival of a young woman half his age . . .

Leola Duff claims Monroe “ruined” her and she now intends to make an honest man of him. But throughout the process of discovering the truth, Christine never doubts that Monroe is the fine man she believes him to be–and never wavers in her faith that all will work out as it should. And when Monroe is forced to confess the truth before the entire congregation, he can only pray that open hearts and minds will prevail, allowing him a future at Promise Lodge–with Christine . . .

 

My review (5-stars)

One of the things that  I’ve liked about this series are the unconventional characters.

I’ve absolutely loved the three Bender sisters, Mattie, Christine and Rosetta. Their dreams of starting a new colony, with the help and spiritual guidance from Preacher Amos have become a reality with more people moving to Promise Lodge and starting new businesses.

They are warm and welcoming to everyone and have formed friendships with most of the new arrivals and their neighbors.

I found newcomer, Bishop Monroe Burkholder kind of off-putting at first, but after a few chapters I liked that he was a lot less stuffy than I’d expected a bishop to be and enjoyed his flirtation with Christine.

The arrival of Leola and Maria creates quite a bit of friction in and around the lodge as relationships are tested, but with faith and prayer things will work out the way they’re meant to.

There’s a busyness that I love at the lodge, wedding planning, wedding ceremonies, cooking, building homes and businesses and anything else that’s needed to turn dreams into reality.

I’ve been a longtime fan of the authors work so I’m not surprised that I’ve liked this series so much and I think other readers of Amish fiction will, too.

Don’t forget to check out the recipes included at the end of the book.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

 

Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport (review by Kristi)

gladden the heart

About the book:  “When you have experienced the Holy Ghost as I have, you would see that it is difficult to turn back.”

When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna’s intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.

Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith..  Now they must grapple with whether love is possible…even if they come to different conclusions.

When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs.  But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

Paperback, 320 pages                     Published July 1, 2017, by Shiloh Run Press

 

My review:  I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Amish Turns of Time series and this book, the fourth installment, left me feeling flat. What sounded like an interesting story turned out to be not as well executed as it could have been.

The premise of this story sounded very interesting to me: An Amish man who has “spells” and preaches even though he isn’t a preacher or minister. The effect this has not only on his family but on the church district and the relationships between the Amish and their non-Amish neighbors left lots of possibilities to be explored. However, I feel like the author left a lot on the table with this story. I wanted to see more of the conflict between the members of the church and their beliefs on why Noah’s “falling under” was wrong. Due to the fact that this story takes place in the 1800’s the main difference between Amish and non-Amish is their faith as they lived much the same. I felt like there wasn’t enough focus on the separation of faith other than the ministers reciting various Bible verses to prove their points. There was also too much repetition in the story and I felt like the story stalled because of this.

There are several characters in this story, most of which are Amish. There are two main non-Amish characters, Patsy and her father who is a Methodist circuit-riding preacher. Patsy is friends with Susana much to the dismay of Susana’s mother because they are Amish and she wants to keep a separation between the faiths. There is also a romance between Susana and Adam and there is conflict between them because of Noah and what each thinks they should do or not do to remain submissive to the church. Again I don’t feel like the author explored this aspect of the story as much as she could have. There wasn’t really a lot of depth to any of the characters and it was impossible for me to relate to any of them.

While this isn’t a completely horrible story there was a lot more the author could have done to explore the various aspects of the story. I would have liked to have seen more depth to the story and characters. A quicker pace would have been nice, too. Readers looking for a different kind of story may enjoy this one but for me, it just wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

 

 

An Amish Summer by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvin (review by Kristi)

An Amish Summer

About the book:

A Reunion in Pinecraft by Shelley Shepard Gray

When sisters Sharon and Sherilyn Kramer attend a wedding in Shipshewana, one of them returns with a new penpal while the other returns to her job at the bakery. After sending weekly letters back and forth, Sherry and Graham Holland arrange a reunion in Pinecraft. Upon Graham s arrival, however, he realizes he s been writing to the wrong sister. He decides to use the reunion as a way to get to know both sisters, but can he sort through the confusion in time to turn the worst vacation ever into something truly wonderful?

Summer Storm by Amy Clipston

Arianna is counting down the days until her wedding to Jesse. They have been friends longer than Arianna can remember, and that friendship turned into love over the past couple of years. But when Arianna s brother Tobias, who happens to be Jesse s best friend, gets them both into trouble, Arianna s father puts an end to her engagement to Jesse. Some summer storms pass quickly, but Arianna is afraid the damage from this one may be too much to repair.

Lakeside Love by Kathleen Fuller

Esther has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful younger sister Sarah. Even the boy she has known and loved her entire life, Judah, only has eyes for Sarah. But when a handsome young Englischer comes to live with the family for a summer, everything begins to change.

One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin

Everybody in little Bee County, Texas, can see the obvious: Jacob King and Martha Byler are meant to be together. Everyone, that is, but Martha. Ever since her mother died when Martha was a young girl, she has taken over the role of caregiver to her large family. And reckless Jacob, who has had a little too much fun on his rumspringa, only seems to add to the list of people to manage. But one summer changes everything, and these two may just find a way to meet in the middle and share one sweet kiss.

Paperback, 400 pages                   Published June 6, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  Four wonderful authors with four uniquely great stories make up An Amish Summer. Grab a cold beverage and a comfy spot and sit back, relax, and enjoy!

I liked Shelley Shepard Gray’s story because it seemed real. I could see this as something that could happen easily and especially with the sisters having such similar names. I will say the name thing was a bit of an issue for me as I struggled to keep the sisters straight in my mind. I found myself rereading passages over just to keep everyone straight. Other than that I thought this was a great story and was an easy read.

Amy Clipston once again proves why she is a favorite of many readers with her story. I found myself cheering on the young Amish couple and hoping they would be able to work out their problems and find a happily ever after. This was a story I couldn’t put down. This story was perfect in every way.

Kathleen Fuller is a master at tugging at the heartstrings of her fans. She does it once again with a story that, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I was going to like. Once I got into the story I couldn’t read it fast enough and was hoping Esther and Judah would become a couple. I was on the edge of my seat at times and at other times forgetting to breathe as I felt the emotions of these characters. Another perfect story.

Kelly Irvin has readers visiting the Amish of Bee County, Texas, which isn’t your usual Amish community. There were characters I really liked in this story and one, in particular, I just wanted to give a piece of my mind. This was a well-written story and one I found to be a quick read.

Fans of Amish fiction are sure to want this set of novellas for their collection. Four different stories in four different settings make this a perfect summer (or any time of the year) read. A definite must-read!

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the authors:

Shelley Shepard Gray:

Since 2000, Shelley has sold over forty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Shelley also writes historical, western inspirational romances for Abingdon Press as Shelley Gray. Her first novel with Abingdon, A Texan’s Promise, was released in October 2011 and has earned glowing reviews.

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Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and three spoiled rotten cats.

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Kathleen Fuller is a best-selling author of Amish fiction. Also a wife, mother, crafter, coffee addict, football fan, and chocolate aficionado.

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Kelly Irvin is the author of more than a dozen Amish books. Her latest release is The Saddle Maker’s Son, the third novel in the Amish of Bee County series from Zondervan/HarperCollins,  released in June 2016. It follows The Bishop’s Son and The Beekeeper’s Son, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” The Beekeeper’s Son is a finalist in the national ACFW Carol Awards Contest in the romance category.  She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing. She has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

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The Captivating Lady Charlotte by Carolyn Miller (review by Kristi)

the captivating lady charolotte

About the book:  Her heart is her own–but her hand in marriage is another matter

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility hen she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte’s father’s pick, not the young lady’s own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return–and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte’s sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

Paperback, 310 pages                Published June 27, 2017, by Kregel Publications

 

My review:  After reading the first book in this series I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. After meeting Charlotte I wanted to read her story and hoped that it would be just as entertaining as Lavinia’s. After reading this book I can happily report I thoroughly enjoyed Charlotte’s story.

As Charlotte is navigating her coming out season she catches the eye of recently widowed Lord Hartington. I found myself liking both of these characters right away. Charlotte isn’t a weak, timid girl but finds herself under the scrutiny of her mother who is trying to find her the perfect marriage match. Lord Hartington is the subject of much gossip concerning his marriage and his wife’s death. These two characters were so well developed that it was easy to imagine them as real people and not just fictional characters. Their emotions and feelings just came right off the page and it was easy to form a connection with them. It was also nice to read more about Lavinia and Nicholas and their marriage.

I really enjoyed the storyline of this book. Not only did it entertain me but it had me thinking of the way marriages were arraigned among the wealthy during this time. To marry for social and financial reasons instead of love must have made for some unhappy couples. I could understand Charlotte’s not wanting to be in a marriage decided on by her parents.

The pace of this book is perfect. I was never bored and always wondering what was going to happen to these characters. This is one of those books that you will want to read quickly to find out what happens but at the same time read slowly to savor every moment. I really like all of the historical details provided. It really makes the story come alive.

Although this book can be read as a standalone I would recommend reading the first book in the series before starting this one. This is a great story and one that I would enjoy reading again. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Carolyn Miller has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s previous novels have won several contests, including the 2014 RWA “Touched by Love” and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy.

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Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber and Amy Lillard

Amish brides

 

About the book:
THE RELUCTANT GROOM
Jennifer Beckstrand
Spirited Suvie Newswenger has three marriage proposals–but not from the man she truly loves. No matter how lonely widower Aaron Beachy is, he seems determined to stay that way forever. Now, with help from his matchmaking great-grandparents, Suvie will do whatever it takes to rekindle Aaron’s hope–and spark happiness for a lifetime.

JOSHUA’S BRIDE
Molly Jebber
Madeline Lehman fears her fiance’s family will never accept her because of her rebellious sister. She’s postponed her wedding to Joshua Stutzman until they see the truth. But when Maddie adopts her sister’s abandoned baby, can she and Joshua find a way to unite their families through forgiveness as well as love?

A SUMMER WEDDING IN PARADISE
Amy LillardReba Schmucker longs to be a bride. And she knows her mischievous nieces just wanted to help when they “chose” Abel Weaver for her. But he’s the last man in the world she’d ever marry. There’s no way her independence and his stubbornness could ever get along–unless a sudden crisis somehow leads to understanding . . . and love.

 

My review (4-stars)

This is a sweet collection of Amish Weddings written by three popular Amish fiction authors. They stories are fast and easy to read.

I have to admit that The Reluctant Groom by Jennifer Beckstrand was my favorite since I love the matchmakers, Anna and Felty. It was nice seeing them up to their old tricks of seeing everyone in their family well fed and happily married.

In Joshua’s Bride by Molly Jebber, I found myself drawn to both the story and the characters and look forward to reading more of her work.

A Summer Wedding by Amy Lillard was a nice ending to the collection with her fun characters.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

 

A Match Made in Texas (Two-Time Texas #2) by Margaret Brownley (review by Cathy)

A Match made in texas

 

About the book:

Welcome to Two-Time Texas:
Where tempers burn hot
Love runs deep
And a single woman can change the course of history:
There’s a new sheriff in town:

Amanda Lockwood gets more than she bargained for when she’s elected Two-Time Texas’s first female sheriff. Anxious to prove herself, she sets out to stop crime in its tracks—taking down wanted man Rick Barrett in the process. But there’s something special about the charming outlaw. Common sense says he must be guilty…but her heart keeps telling her otherwise.

So what’s a sheriff to do? Gather an all-female posse and ride to save the day.

Things sure don’t look good for Rick. If he doesn’t convince the pretty sheriff to let him go, he’ll soon be pushing up daisies. But his plan to woo her to his side backfires when he’s the one who falls head over heels. Now he must choose between freedom or saving the woman he loves…and the clock is ticking.

Who knew A Match Made in Texas could be such sweet, clean, madcap fun?

 

My review (5-stars)

I’m loving the Two-Time Texas series by Margaret Brownley. The stories are fast paced and the characters are laugh  loud funny. I was fascinated with Amanda in the first book and simply adore her in this one. As a suffragist she’s fair-minded and not a shrinking violet.

When she runs for sheriff it’s rather comical since women had no voting rights at all and she’s the lone female running, so it’s not like she has a chance of winning, right? She’s just as shocked as everyone in town when she finds out she’s the new sheriff. She needs a deputy, a posse and learning to shoot a gun is a top priority, too.

Rick is her first and only prisoner,so she has quite a bit of time to investigate his case. She has a young, inexperienced deputy who quotes his old grandfather constantly, along with her all female posse to help. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, quite a lot.. Amanda soon realizes the enormity of her situation especially as her fondness for Rick grows.
Rick was so easy to like. He’s brave, handsome and witty. That’s the whole package as far as I’m concerned.

This is one that can be read as a stand-alone, but I suggest you read them in order to fully appreciate the wonderful residents of Two-Time Texas.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

Weddings at Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard (review by Kristi)

weddings at promise lodge

About the book:  When Christine Bender meets widowed Bishop Monroe Burkholder, it’s love at first sight. But Preacher Amos finds him too good to be true, and is determined to find out what’s behind his sudden, unannounced arrival. Still, the colony needs a new bishop, and everyone is excited to have a younger, more progressive leader. As for Christine, Monroe returns her affection, but her bubble is soon burst with the arrival of a young woman half his age . . .

Leola Duff claims Monroe “ruined” her and she now intends to make an honest man of him. But throughout the process of discovering the truth, Christine never doubts that Monroe is the fine man she believes him to be–and never wavers in her faith that all will work out as it should. And when Monroe is forced to confess the truth before the entire congregation, he can only pray that open hearts and minds will prevail, allowing him a future at Promise Lodge–with Christine . . .

Paperback                                                      Expected publication, June 27, 2017 by Zebra

 

My review:    It’s only been a year since the Bender sisters purchased Promise Lodge and boy how things have changed! A return trip to the community will have readers attending multiple weddings, wondering about the secret Bishop Monroe is keeping, and catching up with the other members of this close knit community. Sit down a spell and catch up with the folks of Promise Lodge.

There is quite the cast of characters in this book and I once again had a difficult time keeping them all straight. However, once I had everyone straightened out in my mind it was fun to catch up with all of them. This is a constantly changing community so there are old friends to catch up with and new friends to meet. Leola and Maria were a couple of newbies to the community and they may or may not cause a little worry for Christine and Rosetta.

One thing I found unique to this series is that the Amish community is a bit “looser” than most. There is more kissing and flirting going on than one normally reads about in the genre. This didn’t necessarily bother me as I realize that the Amish are people just like everyone else and have the same desires for love and happiness. I’m just stating this as some readers may be a bit shocked by some of the dialogue and actions of some of the members of the community.

This book was a fun one to read and it was great to return to Promise Lodge. I’m hoping there are several more books in this series as I have enjoyed each one. This book could stand on its own but I would definitely recommend reading the series in order as to get the history of the community and its members.

I received a free copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:   Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard (a.k.a. Naomi King) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

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