Not So Sweet on “Amish Sweethearts”

Amish Sweethearts

Does it look like the forest is on fire to anyone else or is that just me?

Okay, it kills me that I don’t have a glowing review for Leslie Gould’s new book, Amish Sweethearts. I always look forward to being transported back to an idyllic setting where the modern world fades away as faith, farms, and friendships take the forefront. However, with this book, I was rather looking forward to the last page. It isn’t that I hated it–I just didn’t love it. I’m sure my Kobo Glo taking over a minute to flip a page did not help, but I truly am not holding that against the ebook itself. I’ll share one positive and one negative aspect of the story and then let you decide for yourself what you think of it!

I’ll start with the negative. For this being a love story, it drove me crazy that the two main characters spent over half of the book not saying a word to each other. To provide a little background, the two main characters (Zane, an Englisher, and Lila, an Amish girl) grew up next to each other and were best friends as kids. When Zane graduated from high school, they did not admit their secret feelings for each other. Instead, Lila started dating a nice Amish young man her father chose, and Zane, with a broken heart, joined the army so that he would have a purpose in life. Zane went off to war, which the peace-loving Amish people do not support. As the story progressed over the next several years, the pair would go out of their way to avoid each other, even though they were often within walking distance of one another. I just personally find it hard to believe that love could still burn so strong and could get stronger over time when you go out of your way to avoid the other person’s presence.

With the negative part of my review over, I’ll tell you what I thought Leslie Gould did exceptionally well and that is transporting readers to a little written about setting–that of the mountainous region of Afghanistan. As an American, I have limited exposure to the people and customs of Afghanistan. I’m afraid I only hear about the country in terms of the war in Afghanistan, which I’m rather ashamed to admit. However, through Zane’s time stationed in Afghanistan during the war, Gould really made me have a greater appreciation for the Afghani people and what their lives are like. I feel like I know more about Afghanistan from reading Amish Sweethearts than I have learned about the country in my entire life. She made the people seem real to me. I am more interested in what is happening in that country since I have a greater idea what daily life is like for its residents.

It’s not often that I don’t write a glowing review. However, I promised to write an honest review in exchange for receiving the free ebook. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel!

Romance, danger, & secrets in Pemberley–I mean Pembrooke Park

the secret of pembrooke parkOkay, so I read The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen about a month ago on a trip and it KILLS me that I didn’t write this blog post sooner because the story was that good. The book was so different from most Christian/inspirational romance books that I’ve read. In fact, I’d say that if it wasn’t for having a curate in the story and the characters occasionally going to church, the book would not scream “Christian romance” at all. Instead, it was more of a mystery book, which the last I checked, there really are not a lot of inspirational/mystery/romance type books out there (if I’m wrong, I’d love it if you’d share some titles with me!).

The book opens up with Abigail Foster’s family on the brink of financial ruin after having made bad bank investments. After selling their home, a distant, mysterious family member offers the Foster family the use of Pembrooke Park for one year. Upon arrival at the Park, Abigail receives a less than warm welcome as the curate’s father holds her at gunpoint, assuming she is one of the many vandals that has come to look for secret treasure. After assuring the man that she has the right to be on the property, Abigail ventures inside the house, only to be immediately stunned. The home looks like the Pembrooke family just stepped out of the house for a moment only to never return. Tea cups and food lay abandoned on tables. A dusty dollhouse looks like it is waiting for the little girl to come back and resume playing. As mysterious and creepy as the house is, it is just as frightening that no one in the neighborhood will tell Abigail what happened to the family. Abigail is determined to solve the property’s mysterious past and hopefully stumble upon the missing treasure so that she can right her family’s lack of fortune. What Abigail didn’t expect is possibly falling in love with Will, the handsome, young curate. However, Abigail’s determination to figure things out may expose secrets within Will’s family that they prefer to be kept hidden. Will romance between the pair blossom or shrivel up as Abigail is determined to solve the Park’s creepy and dangerous past?

If you’re looking for a riveting read, this one definitely fits the bill. I imagine it isn’t coincidental that this book reminds me of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, except with a gothic flair and a more laid-back writing style. After all, Pembrooke Park sounds an awful lot like Pemberley! After reading so many romances, it is pretty expected that the heroine will end up falling in love and getting married. That’s a given. However, Klassen’s plot in every other way was unpredictable. When one mystery would get solved, another would pop up. As a reader, I never knew what to expect, which I greatly appreciate. I’ve read where some readers complained about the characters’ behavior not conforming to that which is expected of people in the regency period (ex. men and women never being left alone in the same room). However, do we really know if people in the gentry were always so particular about following these social rules? Perhaps they really did, but I found Abigail’s independence refreshing, even if the author took a little liberty with creating a character that would not have existed during the regency period.

I’d like to thank Bethany House for sending me this novel in exchange for an honest review. I’d love to hear your opinions on the novel if you take my recommendation to read it!

Banner credit: http://planetpooks.files.wordpress.com/