The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis

The Last Bride is the 5th novel in Beverly Lewis’s Home to Hickory Hollow series. I have read the previous novels in the series but I loved the characters and plot in this novel. The Last Bride is my favorite novel of the series, hands down.

From the Back Cover

Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania–the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis’s celebrated Amish novels began–with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.Of her Old Order parents’ five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie’s father opposes the match.

Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they’ll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?

The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis

A Different Twist and A Great Read. As the fourth book in the Home to Hickory Hollow series by Beverly Lewis, The Secret Keeper introduces us to an Old Amish Order from the perspective of a young seeker, Jenny. Jenny is a young adult who wants to leave her privileged middle class background to join the Amish and convert to their faith. Before joining the Amish church, Jenny must live among the People, learn their ways, and pass her Proving time.

Thanks to an Amish acquaintance, Jenny dives optimistically into Amish life and takes up residence with Rebecca and Samuel Lapp. Jenny loves everything Plain and finds peace and hope in her new surroundings. But, as Beverly Lewis adeptly shows us through Jenny’s story, just running from the past and pursuing a dream does not make a wholly perfect life.

As Lewis does so well, she uses the routine experiences of Amish life to show us how much relationships matter, especially family relationships. While Jenny struggles with her own insecurities, she learns that her Amish friends, despite living a simpler life, also struggle with making their hearts right with God and their families.

Jenny’s is a touching story of courage and hope in the future, and learning to accept our humanity. Bethany House Publishing sent me a complimentary copy of The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis to review.

Adoring Addie by Leslie Gould

As devoted reader of Amish fiction, Adoring Addie was the first book I’ve read by Leslie Gould. While Gould’s approach to Amish fiction does not carry the personal acquaintance with the Amish that Beverly Lewis has because of her mother’s background, her approach into a fictional Amish community in Lancaster County Pennsylvania was believable and obviously well researched.

Through her narrative, Addie effectively introduces us to her Amish family and relatives and her relationships and struggles with the people she is close to. Addie’s story is about loyalty, heartache, and resilient hope in family, even when they deeply disappoint.

As the dutiful daughter, Addie works hard to keep her dysfunctional Amish family in favor with neighbors and relatives.  Along the way, Addie falls for Jonathan Mosier, a young Amish man new to her community, but not new to hardened grievances between Addie’s family and neighbors.

As Addie works through her family relationships and setbacks, we see a glimpse into an Amish community that struggles with the same private problems as other people: intolerance, drinking, rebellion, and depression. I did think that Gould’s use of drinking with the character Timothy a bit excessive. While Addie was definitely not a Pollyanna character, I like how Addie so willingly gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Even Phillip, the self-proclaimed narcissist, who contributed much to Addie’s problems, was not beyond Addie’s good will.

Gould’s well written narrative invites us into Addie’s Amish world while working a plot of real life action and painful mysteries from seemingly routine and everyday events. I was interested in Addie’s story by chapter 3 and somewhere along the way I couldn’t stop reading the book until I learned the outcome for Addie and Jonathon.  I’ll be looking for a copy of Courting Cate, Book 1 in The Courtships of Lancaster County, to get current with Gould’s series.  And I look forward to reading Gould’s next Amish novel.

Bethany House Publishing sent me a complimentary copy of Adoring Addie by Leslie Gould to review.

Bethany House Publishers

Bethany House Publishers is a Christian division of Baker House Publishing Group. I was first introduced to Bethany House when I read found Beverly Lewis’s Amish novels while browsing library shelves about a decade ago. I enjoy reading adult fiction, hands down, but I have learned to be wary of less than savory content mixed into some of the best fiction stories. That’s why I’m recommending Bethany Publishers for entertaining and uplifting fiction without the detracting material.

In the time that I’ve dabbled with new authors published under the Bethany label, I have not encountered any books I regret reading. Enough of my personal promotion. Here are some of my favorite authors and books published by Bethany House. Just so you know, I am partial to historical fiction so most the books I introduce come from that genre.

These days I read any of Lewis’s fiction but the Abram’s Daughters 5 book series remains my favorite, followed closely by The Rose Trilogy which is a recent series. After reading all of Lewis’s works, I moved on to Lynn Austin’s Hidden Places, after watching the Hallmark movie a few years ago. Some of my Austin favorites include:

While We’re Far Apart: A WWII love story with a touching plot.

Until We Reach Home: A tale of Swedish Immigrant sisters immigrating to America.

Wonderland Creek: A take-off of Christy by Catherine Marshall. In the woods of rural Kentucky, a young librarian wants to change the town.

A Proper Pursuit: Introduces us the golden period of the World Fair exhibitions and Chicago that hosted it.

Recently I discovered Tracie Peterson, a prolific writer with an endless stream of stories to share. Her best novels explore the development of the American frontiers and the courageous women who settled there. Some of my Peterson favorites include:

Brides of Gallatin County series: Each book in the trilogy focuses on 1 of 3 sisters who settled in Gallatin County, Montana

Song of Alaska series: Introduces us to an Alaskan frontier town of at the beginning of the 20th century.