I was honestly a bit off-put by the idea of reading an Amish story, which I believed would be full of preachy, wholesome wisdom. I am happy to be wrong (about the preachy part, that is) and equally happy for taking what seems like an unlikely chance on this collection of Amish love stories.
The book was written by three authors with very similar styles, and is comprised of three short stories that build off one another. I have ranked them in order of my preference:
A Change of Heart - Beth Wiseman (4.5 stars)
This story centers around two young people who aren't certain of their feelings for each other or their paths in life. The heroine, Leah, is headstrong and fiercely independent to the point of convincing her parents she will never be fit to recommend herself as a proper Amish wife to any respectable Amish man. Much to Leah's dismay, however, she captures the attention of the handsome Aaron Lantz. Leah and stud-muffin Lantz find common ground in sharing Leah's stories and a relationship blossoms as the two discover Leah's talent as an author is more than enough to keep a man's interest. Will it be Mr. Stud-Muffin who captures her heart?
When Winter Comes - Barbara Cameron (3.5 stars)
This story centers around two young people who appear doomed to bad timing and prevailing cross-purposes. The heroine, Rebecca, carries a heavy burden of grief over lossing her twin sister and is haunted by the belief she might have prevented it. It was his intent five years earlier, before losing her sister, that Ben Weaver would make Rebecca his wife, having loved her all his life. When the timing becomes conducive for Ben to pop the question and for the couple to begin their happily-ever-after life together, a series of events unfold that play out an emotional tug-a-war that makes for an interesting, light read.
A Place of His Own - Kathleen Fuller (3 stars)
This story centers around two young people learning to heal old wounds and support each other. The story has two equally strong characters; Josiah, who returns just as suddenly as he left the Amish village more than a decade ago without even a good-bye to his best friend and neighbor, Amanda, has no intention of mending fences with Amanda or sticking around long enough to care. Amanda, still hurt and confused by her best friend's behavior a decade earlier, is determined to pick up where they left off and, if she's really daring, take their friendship to the next level. While Josiah works at a fevered pace to fix his dilapidated childhood home in order to sell it and move on with is life forever away from his Amish roots and distracting neighbor, Amanda insinuates herself in his life (by way of his kitchen) and challenges him in more ways than she's aware. Will Josiah continue running from his past or will he take a chance on love with Amanda?
The first-person perspective of both the male and female lead characters as well as other key characters throughout the stories.
The easy way all three authors incorporate the Amish dialect into every-day conversations between characters. I did not need to refer to the glossary while reading since the meaning of many words and phrases was understood from context.
The contrived and predictable story lines that pretended to be otherwise, particularly with the last two stories, which tended to draw out, longer than was necessary in my opinion, the tension and climax of the story. The last two stories read overly dramatic and unrealistic "big secret" or misunderstanding scenarios, which lead to so much heartache between characters, when revealed proved untrue to character and tended to dilute the plot and moral of the story.
Feminists be warned. As one might expect, Amish values are traditional,including those about women's roles; while women are respected in Amish society they typically earn that respect through their contribution in the kitchen (boy is there a lot of eating and cooking in this book) and house-keeping. In a small, fleeting way this book taught me to value the simpler, more traditional ways I contribute to the happiness of others, like cooking a meal or fixing a hem, as opposed to the more familiar ways in which I tend to feel the greatest sense of contribution to others...work. An overall refreshing read, I would recommend this book.