Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A trio of great Amish stories -- Abby Finds Her Calling, Rosemary Opens Her Heart, Amanda Weds a Good Man

I have finally gotten around to reading some books by Naomi King . . . and my only regret is that I didn't read them earlier!

Abby Finds Her Calling and Rosemary Opens Her Heart are Books One and Two in the Home at Cedar Creek series, and Amanda Weds a Good Man is Book One of One Big Happy Family, which is really a continuation of the the previous series.  The stories are set in Missouri -- some real places and others fictional, I believe -- based on the author's experiences and research in and around the real town of Jamesport, home of the largest Amish community in the state.

Amish fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I have read a lot of these books by several different authors.  Although I have enjoyed most of the Amish fiction I've read, it is always a special bonus to find a little different voice.  Naomi King has definitely provided such a difference in her stories.

Some of the characters deal with very real experiences that may not fit with stereotypical ideas of the idealistic Amish life -- such as a young girl pregnant outside of marriage who fails to show up for her own wedding, women with strong personalities who spend much of their time working outside the typical Amish domestic role, and a bishop who appears to abuse his position and makes life unnecessarily difficult for members of his church.  The story lines are not all quickly and easily resolved, a fact that makes for a high level of interest and uncertainty as the plots play out.  

But woven throughout the stories are themes of love, forgiveness, and caring for one another as a part of family and community.  And there is plenty of romance, along with several adorable children and fun adults to enjoy along the way.

I think these stories get better and better as the series progress.  They touched my emotions, evoking both laughter and tears.  I'm anxious to see what happens next when Emma Blooms at Last is released in the fall of this year.

Thanks to Naomi King for providing Rosemary Opens Her Heart and Amanda Weds a Good Man in exchange for my honest review.

Abby Finds Her Calling

The first in a warm-hearted new series featuring two Amish families and their community in Cedar Creek, Missouri . . .
The Lambright family’s eldest daughter, Abby, runs her own sewing shop. There, she mends the town’s clothes and their torn relationships. But the town maidel has sworn off any suitors of her own because of her unrequited love for James Graber, who is about to marry her younger sister, Zanna . . .

On the wedding day, Zanna is nowhere to be found, breaking James’ heart. Zanna has brought shame to her family, but there’s more in store for them when they discover how far she has fallen. Long-buried secrets come to light, and they test the bonds of the Cedar Creek community. Abby is at the center of it all, trying to maintain everyone’s happiness. But will she ever find her own?

Rosemary Opens Her Heart 

Another spring reminds the Amish of Cedar Creek, Missouri, that for everything there is a season.

Zanna Lambright is finally marrying Jonny Ropp, and friends and family have come from far and wide to celebrate.  Among them is young widow Rosemary Yutzy, mother of toddler Katie, whose husband was tragically killed last fall.  With a willing heart Rosemary has taken over care of her in-laws' family and continued to run a baked goods business from home, but privately she still mourns her lost Joe . . . and is unprepared for the changes that are coming . . .

Rosemary’s father-in-law wants to merge his lamb-raising business with Matt Lambright’s—a move that will require the Yutzys to relocate from their nearby town to Cedar Creek.  Moreoever, it will bring Rosemary into constant contact with Matt, who is making no secret of his romantic interest in her.  The challenges of contemplating a future unlike any she expected are overwhelming for Rosemary.  And although Matt is strong and kind, his courtship is so persistent, she often wants to run the other way.  As Rosemary struggles to see beyond her immediate joys and sorrows, will she embrace the outpouring of welcome and support from the people of Cedar Creek . . . and accept this new chance to open her heart to a more abundant life?

Amanda Weds a Good Man

The Amish community of Cedar Creek is celebrating a wedding!  When Amanda Lambright, widowed with three daughters, marries Wyman Brubaker, a widower with five children, she envisions joining their two households into one big happy family.  But it isn’t quite that easy . . .

Amanda Lambright loves Wyman Brubaker, and after four years as a single mother, she is grateful for his support and for this new chance at happiness as his wife.  She’s confident that their children will get along just fine.  But once Amanda’s clan moves into Wyman’s home, the tight quarters and Wyman’s reluctance to make changes to accommodate Amanda cause friction.  The older kids are squabbling.  The little ones are frequently in tears.  Tiny Alice Ann isn’t speaking at all.  Amanda and Wyman can’t find any privacy.  And Amanda wonders if she’ll ever have a chance to pursue the pottery making that means so much to her.

Amanda believes that family lies at the center of any well-lived Amish life.  Can she find the wisdom to guide the reluctant members of her new extended family toward the love that will bind them together?

About the Author
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Naomi King (a.k.a. Charlotte Hubbard) 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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