GENRE: AMISH ROMANCE
PUBLISHER: SUMMERSIDE PRESS
PUBLICATION DATE: JULY 1, 2011
RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
Two women with nothing in common except the need for a friend and a fresh start. When Amish-born Lydia Ann Raber and Southern belle Caroline DeMarco discover a shared history of loss, the unlikely duo decides to open a gift shop in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Lydia Ann is surprised to find herself drawn to handsome woodworker Simon Zook. When God offers her a second chance at love and family, will she take it? Or will the secret Simon harbors cause her even more heartbreak? For Caroline, love comes in the way of newspaper reporter Michael Landis. Their low-key romance is a dream come true for Caroline, a fugitive from an infamous past. Is Michael to blame when the paparazzi start hovering once again, or can Caroline trust him with her heart?
After finishing this book I was wavering between giving it a 6 or 7 out of 10. I ended up enjoying the romance between Caroline and Michael a lot more than the one between the Amish couple, which is very unusual for me as I'm not normally a fan of contemporary romances and Amish stories are normally my favourite! But sadly I never seemed to get to know Lydia Ann and Simon and in contrast Caroline and Michael had much more fleshed out characters. The story was very slow moving, mainly focusing on the developing relationships than events in the plot, but picked up in the last third. But then I also think that the ending may make me drop a star from this book's rating.
Both of the couples nearly broke up because one partner pretended not to be interested in the other in order to spare them from some huge tragedy. The first time this happened, I didn't mind, but when Caroline did the exact same thing as Simon (despite assuring Lydia Ann that she thought Simon had something else on his mind and didn't mean it, and had seen how Lydia Ann had been affected by Simon's treatment of her) it just didn't seem realistic in the slightest. Although everything was explained and wrapped up neatly in the end, I got a bit annoyed that the author had used the same plot contrivance twice, especially when it comes so close to being the typical romantic Big Misunderstanding, which I do so hate whenever it's used to create conflict between characters. If a problem can be solved with a quick conversation, it isn't really a problem at all.
Despite my complaints about the events towards the end of this book, I will admit that it was a fairly enjoyable, light romance. Caroline's story was the most interesting and was one of the most original parts of the story. She turned out to be a very easy character to relate to. I enjoyed reading about her developing relationship with Michael, and the conflict with his ex-girlfriend was written very well. My fiance has your stereotypical pyscho ex from hell - bringing up old nostalgia, causing a lot of cringe-worthy embarrassment at high school reunion parties, etc - so I could completely relate to Michael and Caroline's predicament! However, I just didn't relate to Lydia Ann and Simon in the same way. I never felt like I really got close enough to them. In a way, I feel like the novel would have been better if it had focused on Caroline and Michael and had the other couple as a much smaller subplot.
All in all, I did enjoy reading this book and it was a very relaxing, comfortable experience for me. I would definitely read more from Annalisa Daughety in the future, just to see what her novels are like when she doesn't try to split herself between two stories. After further thought, I think I'll rate this book 7 out of 10 as I did really enjoy Caroline and Michael's story, despite my earlier complaints. Maybe not the best Amish-themed romance novel I've read, but definitely a sweet story.
I chose to read this book as it was one of the September choices for the Christian Fiction Devourers group at GoodReads.