By Jennifer Beckstrand
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, #6
Young-at-heart octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never miss the chance to find a perfect match for one of their grandchildren. And when their beloved Cassie returns to Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, Anna has a feeling they might soon have a doctor in the family…
Though Cassie Coblenz left her Amish community to go to college, Mammi and Dawdi’s farm will always feel like home. It’s the ideal place for an extended study break—at least until her grandmother’s handsome Englisch doctor becomes a regular distraction. Zach Reynolds is the kind of heartbreaker Cassie has learned to avoid, no matter how charming he may be.
Unlike every woman Zach has met in recent years, Cassie doesn’t fall at his feet. Strong, generous, beautiful within and without —she’s everything he could want. Yet the gulf between them deepens when a tragedy shakes his faith. Now the good doctor has one goal—to become a man who could be worthy of Cassie’s love…
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, a six-book series with octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth at its heart, is simply outstanding. Set in the Huckleberry Hill community of Bonduel, Wisconsin, each story has character depth, wonderful humor, an intriguing storyline, and spiritual values. While I’ve enjoyed these stories so much that I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite, something that’s hard for me to put into words elevates Huckleberry Hearts to a different level. Maybe it’s a combination of things – faith struggles, human frailties, love for a sick child, details of the Amish lifestyle, romantic chemistry, and God working in one of the most touching ways I’ve ever seen in fiction. Jennifer has written a story that speaks to my heart.
Anna and Felty are the glue that holds this series together – and one of the most endearing, memorable couples I’ve ever come across. When I first began reading Huckleberry Hearts, my eagerness went deeper than just the joy of returning to these characters, for they feel so real to me. With their love for God, each other, family and community, their lives are a testimony of God’s faithfulness through good and bad times. And the humor! In an effort to match up their granddaughter, Cassie, with Dr. Zach Reynolds, Anna points out to Zach: “Cassie just graduated from college in art history. She looks at a lot of naked people in her studies. You two have that in common.”
With her tender, forgiving and gentle nature, Cassie exhibits a genuine goodness that immediately captured my heart. Desiring to attend college, Cassie maintained her strong faith after leaving the Amish culture, only to find the Englisch world – men, especially – a great disappointment. Thinking about her Amish roots, Cassie reflects that “she didn’t belong here, but nowhere else seemed like home.” Cassie finds herself trapped between family expectations and her own personal desires – and that’s something to which many readers can relate.
Zach – realistically flawed, angry at God, trying to put his somewhat risqué college reputation behind him and do the right thing – is one of my favorite leading men. The romantic attraction and chemistry between Zach and Cassie is undeniably strong. I also love how, as Zach seeks to learn about the Amish lifestyle, we get to experience firsthand things like hog butchering, washing clothes, and maple sugaring. Most touching to me, however, is Zach’s caring relationship with the seriously-ill child, Austin. My heart melted when Zach, attempting to allay Austin’s fear of another IV needle, let one be put in his own arm at the same time.
One of the most beautiful strengths of this novel is its faith content, all of which spoke to me on a personal level. The contrast between Amish legalism, forced on Cassie by her mom and brother, with Felty’s simple faith was fascinating. In Felty’s words, “My job is to live my life the best way I know how and leave the judgment to Him.” Wow, is that ever relevant for us in today’s world!
Then there’s the reminder of God’s power to transform, evidenced in Anna’s words to Cassie: “Zach may have lost his faith in God, but you’ve lost your faith in God’s ability to change people’s hearts.” And that God often places a person in someone’s life when they need it, as He did with Zach and Austin.
Felty’s conversation with Zach regarding Shadach, Meshach, and Abednego reminded me of a very important spiritual truth, one that trips a lot of us up when it comes to the age-old problem of pain and suffering. Felty reminds Zach that these guys knew that, while God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, He might not choose to do so – and that they affirmed their faith in God, no matter the outcome. I couldn’t help but wonder what my faith must look like in times when my deepest heart’s desire is denied.
And finally, there’s the dream Austin’s mom shared with Zach. Rarely am I brought to tears when reading a book, but this scene is so poignant, uplifting, hopeful and promising that there could only be one response. Very well done, Miss Jennifer!
Because Huckleberry Hearts focuses on an Englisch couple with Amish ties, I believe it would appeal to any audience and I recommend it highly.
Jennifer has a new series in store for us, but I suspect we will eventually see more of Felty and Anna. Please click on the titles below to see my reviews of the first three books in this series.
Link to purchase Huckleberry Hearts: http://amzn.com/1420136534
Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.
Jennifer 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 four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.
Find Jennifer online at jenniferbeckstrand.com, Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.