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I am a big fan of Amish fiction. The plain life intrigues me, although I can barely survive without my dishwasher, so I think it is best I remain "English". Plus Michael would NEVER go for being plain. When I got the opportunity to read and review not one, but TWO new books from author Shelley Shepard Gray, I jumped on it.
I read both of these books in just a few days. They were really good. They are the final half of a series of four books called "The Charmed Amish Life" (they are set in the town of Charm). I have not read the other two books, and although these books easily stand alone, they do refer back to the previous books, and if I ever catch up on my review books I will look for copies of the first two books in the series.
Both of these books are well written. The dialogue is believable, the plot moves at a good pace, not rushed through, but also doesn't ever drag on. My favorite part of these novels is the characters. With the exception of the villains of the story, all of the people in this book are good, but flawed human beings. I like books with relatable characters that are likeable, but not perfect. Shelly Shepard Gray did an excellent job of writing "real" people.
A Sister's Wish is a story of Amelia, the youngest of the Kinsinger siblings, and her relationship with Simon. Simon isn't the ideal Amish man, he has a painful history that makes Amelia's siblings very uncomfortable. Despite him being one of their closest friends, they intrude on the relationship and it causes pain for both Amelia and Simon. Through the story everyone, not just the main characters, learn a lot about themselves. There was really nothing that I DIDN'T like about this book.
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An Amish Family Christmas was also a great read. It focused on Levi, another of the Kinsinger siblings. Julia and her daughter Penny have just moved into the neighborhood, and they quickly become close with Levi. Julia has a painful past, and isn't being 100% honest with the people around her. While I enjoyed reading this book as much as I enjoyed reading A Sister's Wish, there were a couple of (unimportant) things that bothered me about the book:
One - The cover of this book doesn't match the rest of the series. It was very festive and pretty, but it didn't fit with the rest.
Two - It wasn't "Christmas-y" enough. The holiday was mentioned a few times, and celebrated at the end, but it was more an afterthought than a focus.
At first I felt like the plot was a little to convenient, but then I realized that it was supposed to be. It was showing that God works all things for good for those that love the Lord. When I look back at my life, there are many "coincidences" that are much to "convenient" as well, because it is really God's hand in control.
I would gladly recommend either of these books to people that like either Amish fiction or (non-embarrassing) romance novels. They are quick, but good reads.
I received free copies of both books from the publisher via LitFuse, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.