The Promise of Palm Grove
By Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish Brides of Pinecraft, #1
Avon Inspire, 2015
Leona must decide: Does she follow the path set out before her? Or take a chance with only the promise of what could be to guide her?
A young Amish woman finds herself torn between the man she's pledged to wed and the man her heart desires in this heartwarming story of chance, duty, and choice in the face of love---the first volume in the beloved New York Times bestselling author's new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.
Amish bride-to-be Leona is thrilled to be in Florida, on a mini-vacation in the pretty town of Pinecraft. Her girlfriends think she's happy because she's away from the stress of wedding planning. They have no idea that Leona's real joy is in being away from her fiancé.
Edmund is a good man, and will make a decent husband . . . just not for Leona. The more time she spends with him and his overbearing ways, the less she wants to be his wife. Her cousins are sure Edmund is the right man for her---and their certainty makes Leona begin to doubt herself. But when a chance encounter with a wayward cat brings her face-to-face with a handsome, fun-loving Amish man named Zachary Kauffman, Leona's faced with two vastly different futures.
With The Promise of Palm Grove, Shelley Shepard Gray has written a sweet Amish romance with a great supporting cast, a solid and entertaining beginning to the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series. It's a lighter type of read, fun to relax with, and I enjoyed every minute of the reading experience.
One thing that I especially enjoy about Shelley's books is that the flow of her writing is conversational and well paced, allowing readers to get more deeply acquainted with everyone. Lead characters, Zach and Leona, are so easy to relate to - and they are supported by several family members that I hope to see more of in future stories. One of these captured my heart, and that's Zach's twelve-year-old sister, Effie, who suffers from Perthes disease. Zach, who loves to feel needed, has willingly devoted his time to taking care of Effie - and Leona finds a bravery deep within herself, enabling her to make a major change in her life's direction.
The Pinecraft village in Sarasota, Florida has become one of my favorite settings for Amish fiction because, while still containing all the elements I love about this genre, the setting itself creates a more laidback feel. Shelley has done a great job at capturing the essence of this Amish/Mennonite vacation community located in the heart of Sarasota. Visit this book's page on Pinterest and enjoy the pictures Shelley has assembled to get a good feel for Pinecraft.
Set among the streets and shops that actually make up this village is the fictitious Orange Blossom Inn, which serves as the home base for all four books in the series. I love these words of Beverly Overholt, owner of the inn, for they not only convey the vibrancy of Pinecraft, but the spiritual themes of hope, renewal, and new beginnings . . .
"Beverly Overholt dreamed in color now. Pinks and yellows, blues and reds. Green, purple, indigo, orange. So many vibrant colors, so much promise. . . . God was so good because He reminded her in dozens of ways each day that change was possible. Every morning, He gave her the beautiful sunrises over the Gulf of Mexico, warm weather, and gentle rains. Flowers and blue skies, palm trees and always, always the hint of happiness. In more ways than she could ever name, the Lord promised new beginnings. Renewal. Paradise."
One of this story's spiritual themes is something that most of us can identify with, and that is trying to make our own plans without seeking God's guidance. This Scripture that Shelley quotes at the beginning of this book never fails to speak to me: "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps" (Proverbs 16:9). I loved the way this message is conveyed through the story of Zach, Leona, and Beverly.
The Promise of Palm Grove is a heartwarming story of new beginnings, new directions, and renewal. Recommended to all who enjoy Amish fiction.
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 shelleyshepardgray.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Also visit the Litfuse Blog Tour page to learn more.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This story is set in Pinecraft, a vacation destination enjoyed by the Amish. To enter the drawing for The Promise of Palm Grove, share something about vacations - a favorite family vacation spot, a memorable trip, where you plan to go this summer, etc. Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for making this giveaway possible.
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