By Jennifer Beckstrand
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, #1
Kensington Books, 2014
With their thirteen children grown, Anna and Felty Helmuth are ready for their next adventure. That means trying their hands at matchmaking--because what could be more fun than igniting love when it's right--and undoing mismatches when they're wrong. Now Huckleberry Hill just might turn out to be the most romantic spot in Wisconsin . . .
Lia Shetler is resigned to being a spinster. She's too tall and sturdy to ever be marriageable--so says her overbearing dat. Instead, she's helping her pretty, spoiled sister Rachel secure the perfect husband--the Helmuths' grandson, Moses Zimmerman. But the more Lia sees of Moses' gently teasing ways and quiet understanding, the more she wishes he could be hers alone . . .
Moses knew his grandparents couldn't resist trying to find him a wife. But he never expected it would be the graceful, sensible Lia--a woman who is tall enough to look him in the eye, and honest enough to make him question a promise holding him to his past. Now both will need the kind of miracles only faith and courage can bring to finally reach for a lifetime of happiness . . .
Blue huckleberry bush
Huckleberry Hill, book #1 in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, is a delightful Amish romance about an elderly couple who decide to meddle in their grandchildren's lives in order to help them find suitable mates. Jennifer's voice is different from anything I've read in Amish fiction, and I found it very refreshing. Huckleberry Hill has a beautiful sense of place in the Wisconsin Amish country, endearing lead characters in Moses and Lia, plenty of conflict, sweet romance, humor - and the most adorable, scheming grandparents I've ever seen. This is such an enjoyable read!
There's good character depth here, something I always look for in a book, and character weaknesses are exposed, as well as strengths. It is so much fun to watch the growing attraction between Moses and Lia, but it is the conflict introduced by Lia's sister around which everything revolves. Rachel and her father don't seem to fit our image of believers committed to the Amish faith, yet it is this conflict that drives the story and captured my attention throughout.
Rachel is an extremely irritating character who just grinds on your nerves - blessed with a beauty that failed to pierce the surface. She was pampered, spoiled, lazy, conniving - the complete opposite of Lia. "Rachel wanted for nothing, while Lia's charge was to watch out for her delicate younger sister." There's even an allusion to the story of Rachel and Leah in the Old Testament, as Moses reflects: "It seemed her dat moved his daughters around like pieces on a chessboard. Lia was the expendable one, and Rachel played the queen. Well, Moses refused to be the pawn."
"We can't leave something this important to a man.
What man has ever known his own heart?"
But it is the grandparents, Felty and Anna, who captured my heart and wouldn't let go. They could get away with throwing two young people together to see if sparks might ignite because no one would ever suspect this seemingly guileless couple of such mischief. Anna loves to experiment with new recipes, often with disastrous results - and one of my favorite scenes is her meatball supper. Felty, the perfect husband for Anna, could pop scorching hot meatballs into his mouth because a childhood accident had impaired his sense of taste and smell.
On a spiritual level, we see much personal growth in Moses and Lia, and comforting Scriptures are often quoted in a way that easily flows with the narrative. Felty and Anna are filled with a spiritual wisdom that comes from walking closely with the Lord, and I particularly enjoyed one conversational scene between Felty and Lia. I would have liked to see some indication of transformation or redemption in Rachel's character, but that is left up to the reader's imagination - and that's not a bad thing.
Huckleberry Hill is a story you can relax with and enjoy your time spent in its pages. In fact, it was hard to read without a smile on my face! Readers of Amish fiction will enjoy this story that is different from many others on the market. Book #2, Huckleberry Summer, releases in June 2014.
"I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
"My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job." [Taken from Jennifer's website]
Lia's Huckleberry pie
Meet Jennifer online at www.jenniferbeckstrand.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Thank you to Jane Nutter and Kensington Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I totally agree with your book review - Huckleberry Hill is a fantastic read, it has romance, humor, conflict, characters to love and characters to dislike. I also reviewed the book at http://amishreader.blogspot.com/2014/04/book-review-of-huckleberry-hill-by.htmlReplyDelete
Gloria, thanks for visiting and commenting here! I enjoyed your review also. Glad to see we have similar tastes regarding Jennifer's book.Delete
I agree, it was a wonderful and fresh book. I have a giveaway at my blog right now: http://sunniereviews.blogspot.com/2014/03/huckleberry-hill-great-book-by-jennifer.html . Two winners will receive this wonderful book!ReplyDelete
Sonja, I'm really glad that I discovered Jennifer's writing. She will be a guest on my blog this coming week and there will be a giveaway also. Thanks for visiting!Delete
Sounds good! I hope I get a chance to read this one. :)ReplyDelete
Sounds like a good read. Will have to put on my wish listReplyDelete
Jennifer and Anonymous, I hope you get to enjoy this book soon. Be sure to share your thoughts when you do.ReplyDelete
This sounds like wonderful book. Hope to read it really soon.ReplyDelete
It sounds really good!ReplyDelete
And I hope you will get to, Juanita. You might find a character you want to strangle, though!ReplyDelete
Sounds like a really good book. Can't wait to read it when it hits the stores. I have the first book but it is in my TBR pile or should I say TBR bookshelf!!ReplyDelete
Karen, I have a lot on my Kindle, but my shelves still overflow!Delete
Mine too, Carole. I just bought another book yesterday and put it in my TBR stack. The stack it taller than my house.Delete
Lucy! I'm so glad you liked it. My mom called me after she read Huckleberry Hill and asked if Anna and Felty were based on her and my dad. There is definitely some of my parents in there. :)Delete
I love Amish fiction. There is a simplicity to Amish ways that really captivates me and draws me in. I haven't read this one yet but, after reading your review, I am looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing, Carole! :)ReplyDelete
Wanda, I think Amish fiction is my favorite "comfort" read because I know what I will find - close family ties, neighbors who help each other, and a faith lived out daily. Thanks for all your help, my friend!Delete
And thanks to all of you for visiting and leaving comments!
I just finished this book yesterday, just LOVED it... can't wait for book 2 to come out in June. Loved Anna and Felty and the way Anna manipulated the situations to get Moses and Lia together. It is Good clean reading and enjoyed it so much... loved the happy ending. Lucy NixReplyDelete
Wow. This book sounds intriguing based on your review. Not much more enjoyable than scheming, adorable grandparents! Jean Crise Clements email@example.comReplyDelete
Jean, I certainly agree with you about the grandparents! They were my favorites and I'm eager to spend more time with them.Delete
The contest will begin with my interview with Jennifer, which will be posted tomorrow, so be sure and come back.
I know that the cover is gorgeous and believe that the story will be great, as well.ReplyDelete
Good to find your blog. Very interesting! I love Amish fiction - my favorite genre. Hope to win!ReplyDelete
Susan in NC
Loved the review -- beautiful cover -- would love to win a copy. Please accept my entry. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Mary Ellen, the contest will be on the interview post with Jennifer, which will be posted tomorrow. Be sure to come back and enter!Delete
Love the review and can't wait to read this book! That picture of the huckleberry pie looks good and I bet I added 5 lbs just drooling over it lol.ReplyDelete
I'm laughing with you, Teresa! I've never eaten huckleberries, but if they're similar to blueberries, there's nothing better than a pie or cobbler. If only added weight didn't come with such goodies!Delete
Be sure to visit today's interview with Jennifer and enter to win a copy, Teresa.