Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: Thankful

By Shelley Shepard Gray
Return to Sugarcreek #2
Avon Inspire, 2014

Christina Kempf has always known that God chose Aden Reese to be her husband. As children, he was there to save her when she fell through the ice, and he’s been by her side ever since. After his parents died in a car accident ten years ago, the Kempfs raised Aden as one of their own, and everyone sees Aden and Christina as brother and sister. But Christina has never given up hope that Aden will one day ask her to be his wife.

Aden always planned to court Christina. But losing his mother and father changed everything—except his love for her. Her parents generously welcomed him into their home and treated him like a son. He can’t betray their kindness by admitting his feelings for the girl who is like a sister . . . yet so much more.

Pressured by her parents to court, Christina begins to accept the attentions of Sugarcreek’s young men, and now, Aden must make a choice. Will he stand by and watch the love of his life slip away? Or will he risk losing the love and trust of the family he holds dear to tell Christina how he truly feels?

Thankful includes a P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading, and more.

My thoughts

Shelley has a gift for capturing the beauty, simplicity and warmth of Amish life in her writing, and I love the simple stories she tells, always with an inspirational nugget that hits close to home for me. Family values are one of the things I most enjoy about Amish fiction, and Thankful is a well-crafted story of family, commitment, trust, and love. It is book #2 in the Return to Sugarcreek series, but easily stands alone.

Something that really held my attention was the way Shelley blended three storylines together, each one emotionally engaging. Jana Kent is the owner of the Sugarcreek Inn, an Amish restaurant that had been her husband's dream, and she learns to let go and focus on what matters most to her.

I loved how the story of Judith and Ben continues from the previous book, as Judith realizes that she can't let fear guide her decisions any longer. She was able to look back at how the Lord had carried them through difficult times, "holding them securely, letting them lean on Him when it felt as if they couldn't stand easily on their own two feet. This felt like another time when the Lord was simply waiting for her to reach out to Him." This theme was so easy for me to relate to, as I've had the same experience so many times and often wish I had reached out sooner.

Christina and Aden's story is also one of overcoming fear and communicating feelings. I loved the humor injected with Aden's thankfulness for numerous blessings, which made him hungry instead of falling back asleep. This was also a beautiful way to tie everything together in Thankful and leave me dwelling on my blessings.

Shelley has created a delightful Pinterest board for Thankful, where you can visualize the beautiful Sugarcreek community and possibly be tempted by some mouth-watering recipes - such as buttermilk pie, bean and cheese smothered enchiladas, etc.

I am enjoying this whole series and especially the way Thankful brings us back to Sugarcreek. Fans of Amish fiction will "for sure and for certain" love this story. Book #3, Joyful, will be released on September 02, 2014.

Thankful can be purchased online at Amazon, CBD, DeeperShopping, and B&N.

Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, 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.

Meet Shelley online at, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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