By Jennifer Beckstrand
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, #3
Kensington/Zebra Books, 2014
Now that they've happily married off two of their grandchildren, Anna and Felty Helmuth are ready for their next matchmaking challenge. What better way to celebrate the most heartwarming of seasons--and make Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, the place for unexpected love. . . A difficult marriage has left the Helmuths' widowed great-granddaughter, Beth, finished with wedlock. She's content to live with them and make a life for herself and her toddler son. But once she turns down handsome Tyler Yoder's proposal, it seems only fair to encourage him to find a suitable wife. Trouble is, his gentleness and generous ways are showing her how joyous a real meeting of hearts can be. . .
After a failed courtship, Tyler thought the best he could hope for in a wife was mere companionship. But spirited Beth is the one he longs to protect, and hold close. Earning her trust is the hardest thing he's ever had to do. And soon, both will discover that forgiveness and understanding are gifts that only rekindled faith--along with the happiest of holidays--can bring.
I am so glad to have discovered the writing of Jennifer Beckstrand because reading one of her books is pure pleasure. In fact, I can hardly read without a smile on my face. This is the third novel of Jennifer's that I've read, and I find her writing very refreshing and enjoyable. Filled with charming characters, sweet romance, and gentle humor, Huckleberry Christmas captured my interest from the first page as I was transported to the Huckleberry Hill community of Bonduel, Wisconsin , and the ending left me looking forward to Anna Helmuth's next matchmaking effort. Although part of a series, it can easily stand alone.
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill is a delightful series about an elderly Amish couple who decide to meddle in the lives of their relatives in order to help them find suitable mates. Felty and Anna are at the heart of these stories, but much more than mere matchmaking, they have the unique ability to gently impart spiritual wisdom into the hearts of their loved ones, wisdom that comes from a lifetime of walking with God. Felty and Anna are two very memorable and beloved characters.
Huckleberry Christmas shows a refreshingly different side of the traditional Amish setting - one infused with humor, where scarves are knit in bright colors contrary to the usual style, and where not every Amish woman is an excellent cook - Anna's green gelatin mixed with pickles and her runny rice pudding, for example. Jennifer's straightforward writing style and rich characterization are so easy to connect with. The serious theme of emotional abuse is also brought in and handled well. In one particular scene, Anna points out to Beth: "You shouldn't let Amos ruin the rest of your life. . . . Do you really want to give his memory that much power?"
With his giving and caring nature, Tyler is one of my favorite heroes. Beth carried a lot of emotional baggage from her previous marriage, where she had lived with a constant criticism that eventually destroyed her trust in men and her faith in God. I love the advice Beth's mom gave to Tyler: "Beth won't jump into the pool until she's checked to make sure it's filled with water. Then she'll have to be certain the water's warm. And then she'll want to know there's a gute swimmer to catch her. You'll have to be patient."
Spiritual themes flow throughout the narrative in a natural and beautiful way. One message that always speaks to me is the importance of trusting in God alone - because people, no matter how good or well intentioned they are, will invariably let us down. Also touching was when the words from O Little Town of Bethlehem - "How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given" - caused Beth to reflect that "God's gifts were given so quietly that many people didn't even recognize blessings when they came." I hate to imagine how many times that has been true in my life.
So often an author will rush a book's ending, but not so here! Jennifer took the time to give Huckleberry Christmas a delightfully satisfying ending which readers will enjoy and appreciate. I'm eager to see what Anna and Felty are up to in Huckleberry Spring, which releases in February 2015. Highly recommended to fans of Amish fiction. 5 stars based on the enjoyment factor.
Click on the titles below to see my reviews of the previous two books in this series:
Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and the Forever After in Apple Lake series, set in two Amish communities in beautiful Wisconsin. She has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and two adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten.
Meet Jennifer online at www.jenniferbeckstrand.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Thank you to Jane Nutter at Kensington Publishing for providing an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read Huckleberry Christmas to see what part a sunflower plays in Tyler and Beth's romance!