Friday, October 21, 2016

A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these books free from the publisher through the LitFuse Publications book blogger campaign. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

About the book: 

A Sister's Wish (Avon Inspire, September 2016)

In Shelley Shepard Gray's third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman---at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she's also harboring a secret: She's been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he's about as far from "perfect" as an Amish man could get . . . but that's exactly why she's so drawn to him.

Life hasn't been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he's determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past . . . unless it pertains to Amelia.

He's loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas---who just happens to be Simon's best friend---has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he's the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together---and face their past mistakes. There's a chance for love . . . but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

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About the book: 

An Amish Family Christmas (Avon Inspire, October 2016)

In Shelley Shepard Gray's fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles---and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can't help having doubts. There's something about Julia that doesn't ring quite true . . .

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships---but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she's hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually . . . perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

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About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray
 is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Dynamic Uno here: I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the fictional people living in the Amish town of Charm, Ohio.   The first two books in the series: A Son's Vow and A Daughter's Dream were just the introduction to the Kinsinger family saga, with these two as the book-endings.

A Sister's Wish is book 3 in the series and focuses on Amelia, the sister who takes care of the home front while the other siblings are off either working, or in Levi's case, away from the family.  While she is by far the sweetest of the Kinsinger clan, I could see why she had a soft spot for the rough and tumble Simon.  (After all, isn't the stereotype that the good girls want the bad boys because they see a sense of adventure and daring that they wouldn't have otherwise?)  Thankfully, for Amelia's sake, Simon no longer lived the rough lifestyle that he grew up with and that carried over into part of his adult life.  

I enjoyed this book in the series because it reminds us all that no matter what we have done in our past, God still forgives and has redeemed us.  Something I know that I need to be reminded of on a regular basis.

Book 4, An Amish Family Christmas, was a great way to wrap up the series--although if it were up to me, it would have been waaaaayyyy longer because I don't want to say goodbye to the characters.  Levi has finally returned home after fleeing to Pinecraft, Florida after their father's death.  Rather than live in the large family home, he decides to rent a house in town.  There, he begins a friendship with his neighbor Julia and her daughter Penny.  Julia has her own issues and secrets, but after Levi befriends her, she begins to realize that she doesn't have to be ashamed of her past and her secrets no longer have to stay that way.

I think out of all four of the books in the series this one was my favorite.  All of the siblings found their life-match and despite the difficulties they had to endure, they were able to overcome them with the help of friends, family, and their faith in God.  

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this series.  The Kinsinger clan and the the other characters were realistically written and had to overcome many of the same struggles that you and I face each day.  It's nice to read an author who is not afraid to tackle these challenges in her writing and to portray them in such a way that hope and love are the remaining responses.

If you think the Amish have an idealistic life and that nothing bad ever happens to them, you're wrong.  They suffer from the same tragedies and heartaches that the rest of us face, but they rely on their faith, friends, and family to help them get by.  This is an excellent series and I can't wait to read more by this author!

Let me know what you think in the comments section and Happy Reading!



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