A Sister’s Wish
By Shelley Shepard Gray
The Charmed Amish Life, #3
Avon Inspire, 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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I don’t know how she does it, but Shelley Shepard Gray has a way with creating characters who are realistically human, appealing, and feel like people you would meet in your own town. The whole Charmed Amish Life series has done just that with the Kinsinger family, with each book building upon the previous one. And I’ve loved how the extended family appears throughout, letting us experience their growth and happiness.
In this series, we see how one family handles loss and grief from the accidental death of their father. A Sister’s Wish features Simon, who will go down as one of my very favorite leading men – tender, caring, compassionate. Simon is such a reflection of the human condition – scarred from his past, guilt ridden from bad decisions and sinful actions – yet redeemed and restored in Christ. The meek and mild Amelia, who had taken on the role of housekeeper so her other siblings could work at Kinsinger Lumber, shows a surprisingly strong and feisty nature that I loved.
I loved everything about A Sister’s Wish, from the sweet chemistry between Simon and Amelia, to how his past affected present relationships. This is a story of family, friendships, and love.
An Amish Family Christmas
By Shelley Shepard Gray
The Charmed Amish Life, #4
Avon Inspire, 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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An Amish Family Christmas is a perfect series conclusion and a wonderful Christmas read. It’s about transformation and loving relationships anchored in faith. After the way Levi had reacted to his father’s death in an earlier book, it was great to see his return to the family. But sometimes coming back isn’t easy, as many readers have undoubtedly experienced, and Levi’s struggles to fit in ring true. He just blossoms as the relationship with Julia and her daughter develops, fulfilled by being needed.
With its focus on some of the grittier aspects of life, such as death and physical abuse, this story shows that the Amish face the same life struggles that we do. I loved the way serious issues are offset by everyday life and even humor. And I have to say that one of my favorite things about An Amish Family Christmas is spending more time with Simon, a character who touched me greatly.
Levi’s personal growth and Julia learning to trust make this a moving story – with a fabulous conclusion filled with Christmas cheer. I loved the whole series and highly recommend it to all who enjoy Amish fiction.
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.
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I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Five readers will win copies of A Sister’s Wish and An Amish Family Christmas! Click on the image or link below to enter. Contest ends 11/4.