A Mother's Secret
By Amy Clipston
Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel #2
Being a member of Amy Clipston’s Bakery Bunch is so much fun, and this month we had a challenge that I especially enjoyed … to re-read one of Amy’s books and post a review. I chose A Mother’s Secret, book #2 in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel, because this was the first of Amy’s books that I read and it will always be special to me for that reason. Here is a description of A Mother’s Secret, followed by my thoughts.
Carolyn Lapp dreams of marrying for love. But will the errors of her past destroy this dream forever?
Carolyn Lapp longs to have a traditional Amish family. But she lives on her brother's farm with her parents and her 15-year old son, Benjamin. Carolyn has never revealed the identity of Benjamin's father and lives daily with the guilt and shame of her youthful indiscretion. Her brother simply will not forgive her.
His answer is to arrange a practical marriage for Carolyn to Saul, a widower with a little girl. But Carolyn isn't convinced that Saul really loves her and believes he is simply looking for someone to help raise his daughter.
When Benjamin causes trouble at a local horse auction, horse breeder Joshua Glick decides that he must be taught a lesson. Carolyn and Joshua are unmistakably drawn to each other, but Joshua mistakenly assumes that Benjamin is Carolyn's brother. Carolyn fears that if he discovers the truth, her past will destroy their budding romance.
After years of shame and loneliness, Carolyn suddenly has two men vying for her attention. But which of them will give her the family-and the unconditional love-she's longed for?
A Mother's Secret is a fairly light and quick read, but I don't mean that as a criticism; in fact, that's often what I'm in the mood for. And in contrast to a lot of lighter reads, Amy deals with some difficult social issues. There's also good character depth and spiritual elements that made me stop and reflect.
The characters and their struggles are easy to relate to, and Amy shows that Amish people have the same struggles and deal with the same mistakes or sins that we do. 31-year-old Carolyn lives with the guilt of past sin - mainly because people won't let her forget - and feels unworthy of a marriage based on love. Her brother, Amos, wants her to marry in order to be "respectable." Benjamin, Carolyn's son, is bullied by his cousins.
It was an unlikely character that I found it so easy to relate to, and that was Barbie, Joshua's mother. Barbie is manipulative, pushy, and controlling, yet I was drawn to her – because, as a mother, I felt she was acting out of fear due to the heartbreaking losses in her life. What must it be like to have a son die so young and unexpectedly, and then to have two grandchildren leave the Amish community? She wanted a daughter-in-law that she could mold into a good, dutiful wife and mother, one who would give her more grandchildren and stay close by.
As I said in the beginning, for an "easy" read, this story carries some strong spiritual messages and personal challenges. We see themes of a judgmental spirit vs. a forgiving spirit, legalism vs. unconditional love. We are all eager to receive God's forgiveness, but is it easier to accept God's forgiveness than to grant it to others? And are we ever capable of truly "forgetting"?
I am so glad I picked this book up because Amy did a great job at creating families and characters that I care about - and there is obviously much more to tell. Recommended to fans of Amish fiction.
Amy is also collecting Amish recipes for a recipe e-book that will be included in her May newsletter. This cinnamon bread recipe sounded delicious, but more important, something that I could easily make! If you have any favorite Amish recipes, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk + 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice)
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cream together butter, 2 cups of sugar, and eggs. Add milk, flour, and baking soda. Put 1/2 of batter (or a little less) into greased loaf pans (1/4 in each pan).
Mix in separate bowl the 2/3 c sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle 3/4 of cinnamon mixture on top of the 1/2 batter in each pan. Add remaining batter to pans; sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick tester come clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
NOTE: This bread can also be made in muffin tins, which make it easier to freeze and take out as needed.
Recipe source: redflycreations.com