You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Christian romance novel’ tag.

Accidentally Amish (Valley of Choice) by Olivia Newport and published by Shiloh Run Press (2012) will instruct and delight you. The two main characters, Annalise Friesen and Rufus Beiler couldn’t be more opposite. Annie, as she is called, is from Colorado Springs and owns a software company. Rufus is from the San Luis Valley in Colorado, and he is Amish. Yet, even so, these two are drawn to each other.

Through a series of crazy events, Annie ends up in the San Luis Valley with Rufus Beiler’s family. Rick Stebbins, her intellectual property lawyer/ex-boyfriend, and Barrett, her business partner, are attempting to take over her company. Fleeing from Rick, who is trying to get her to sign papers, she becomes a stowaway in a truck driven by Tom, a friend of Rufus. She decides on an extended stay at a hotel in the small town.

Through her relationship with her new Amish friends, and her desire to lead a more simple life, Annie comes to have a deeper faith in God. In the beginning of the story, she is highly attached to her computer and cell phone. She begins to rethink her lifestyle as she spends time with the Beiler family.

Intertwined in the story of Annie and Rufus is the story of another family. Jakob and Verona Beyeler came to America from Europe on the Charming Nancy in 1737. Many facts in this story are true. The book’s author, Olivia Newport, is a descendant of this family.

Annie begins to research her family history and finds she is related to Jakob Beyeler, through the line of his second wife, Elizabeth Kallen. When Jakob’s first wife, Verona, died, she left him with five children, the youngest still a baby.

Annie’s business stays in tact. She sells it and buys a small house in the San Luis Valley. She is not ready to become Amish, but she wants to learn more about God and about His plans for her life. After pursuing her own dreams of success for many years and coming up empty, without many meaningful connections in her life, she wants to find out what it would be like to live a life directed by God.

Nothing is completely resolved in Accidentally Amish; it is only book 1 in the series. But the novel does end happily, even though there are people in Annie’s life who don’t understand or agree with her decisions.

I really enjoyed reading this novel because the plots of both stories are interesting and a bit mysterious. I loved the fact that one way of living was not declared the one and only way. The book pointed out positives and negatives of the Amish and non-Amish ideas. The main point of this story is that God wants each of us to follow Him in the way He leads. If he leads each one differently, that is OK.  I think this would be a helpful book for young adult women and enjoyable for all adults.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

What Once Was Lost, written by Kim Vogel Sawyer and published by WaterBrook Press (2013) will inspire you, and uplift your spirit.

It takes place in Brambleville, Kansas, in 1890, and introduces us to Christina Willems, a woman in her late twenties, who runs the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor. This small farm outside of town is home to twelve displaced individuals–children and adults. Under a mission board, the farm was previously managed by Christina’s parents who have passed away. Christina has lived at the asylum since she was a child, helping her parents with the ministry.

The novel opens with the residents gathered for a hearty meal. Christina is thinking about Hamilton Dresden, who used to live with them. He had been a good shot and provided them with game. But in other respects Dresden had been a ne’er-do-well and trouble. She had insisted he leave and she was glad of it.

In the middle of the night, fire breaks out in the kitchen . Tommy Kilgore, an eleven-year-old blind boy, accidentally comes upon the fire and wakens Christina and the residents, getting them out of the house. The damaged house cannot be lived in.

Christina sets about finding new homes for the residents and herself until she can get the mission board to provide funds for repairs. She and seventeen-year-old Cora move into Mrs. Beasley’s Boardinghouse. In exchange for room and board, they have to cook all the meals, along with putting up with a very cranky, demanding woman.

The last person to be placed is Tommy Kilgore. None of the town’s residents want him because of his blindness. Christina takes him to a recluse miner a few miles out of town named Levi Jonnson. Levi avoids others and shuns the faith in Jesus he held as a child, because people were unkind to his father when he was growing up. Initially, Levi also refuses to take Tommy in, but Christina finally persuades him. However, Levi insists she find another arrangement as soon as possible.

Christina meets with the director of the mission board, who seems reluctant to rebuild the kitchen at the asylum or even keep the home open at all. He feels it is too far from town and from other neighbors who could be of help. He talks of relocating it in another town. Also, Hamilton Dresden has complained to the board about Christina’s leadership. She tries to defend herself. The meeting ends unresolved–no concrete decision is made.

Christina is discouraged; the asylum is the only life she has ever known. Also, she has no money from her parents, as they always gave all they had to those in need. She does possess her father’s watch, which reminds her of him and his strong passion to help others. She clings to this watch, until she has to sell it so she can travel and check on two children who have been moved to an orphanage in another town.

During this time, Christina seeks the Lord, asking for His guidance, yet she still views the ministry as hers, and struggles with handing it back over to Him. Meanwhile, Levi Jonnson is also learning and growing, finding himself getting attached to Tommy. Since Levi is a also craftsman like his father, he teaches Tommy to cane chairs, .

Many other events happen and some very close calls. Christina is realizing that the entire ministry of the asylum belongs to the Lord and He will do with it as He sees fit. It is a heartbreaking time for her, as many of the residents of the asylum are finding other situations, places to live, and some of the children are adopted.

Seventeen-year-old Cora is pregnant and has not revealed it yet. She is sure she will be disowned when she does. The Lord is merciful and graciously opens up a home and job with the store owners in town. Mr. and Mrs. Creeger, a wonderful Christian couple, take her in. They show her the love of Christ and she becomes a follower of Jesus.

Levi is realizing that the way he is living, filled with bitterness towards God, is only making him miserable. He comes back to the Lord and begins to greatly admire Christina and her selfless heart. She realizes the ministry belongs to the Lord, and hands it back over to Him.

After some suspenseful events, all ends happily. God’s amazing plan for the Brambleville Asylum is revealed and you come away from this read believing once again that God’s ways are perfect. When we entrust our lives and futures to Him, He reveals his love and plans for our lives.

I think that anyone would enjoy reading this book, but particularly women eighteen and above. I found it to be delightful, suspenseful, and encouraging. It has inspired me to pray about more that I can do for those in need.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

A Love Like Ours, written by Becky Wade, and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) will educate and inspire you. I learned so much by reading it and enjoyed its depth and humor.

This book in the Porter Family Novels series centers around Lyndie and Jake, both in their early thirties, who were the best of childhood friends. When Jake was twelve and Lyndie was ten, they spent much of their waking hours together, enjoying animals and having outdoor adventures.

About that time, Lyndie’s father obtained a job that would take him and his family away from Holley, Texas, to Altadena, California. The family particularly needed him to accept this job because Lyndie’s younger sister had severe cerebral palsy, was blind and non-verbal, and required many medical treatments for lung problems. Lyndie was a wonderful, caring, helpful big sister.

Twenty years pass and Lyndie’s father is transfered back to Texas. The family settles in the same area as before. Lyndie’s and Jake’s mothers waste no time getting the families together for dinners. However, Jake does not attend the dinners and Lyndie is concerned.

She learns that eight years before while Jake was a Marine, three of his friends died under his watch. His Humvee hit a hidden Improvised Explosive Device. Jake now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, leaving him with anxiety and frightening flashbacks. He finds comfort in training horses at Whispering Creek Ranch, his family’s Thoroughbred horse farm.

Jake’s brother knows that Lyndie is skilled as a horse trainer and urges her to apply for a position with Jake. Lyndie gets the job, but  Jake’s brooding disposition concerns her. She begins praying for him. He had been close to the Lord once, but he has wandered away, feeling the Lord has abandoned him.

Lyndie had also trained as a jockey, and she is very interested in helping Jake’s horse, Silver Leaf, learn to race. The horse seems talented, but won’t run when out on the track. Lyndie begins building a relationship with the horse and his owner.

Jake falls in love with Lyndie, but he is experiencing disturbing nightmares. As a child, he had always wanted to protect Lyndie, and when it is decided that Silver Leaf would race again with Lyndie as his jockey, Jake is filled with anxiety for her safety. The horse races, and Silver Leaf and Lyndie come in first place.

Lyndie as well, is falling for Jake. She knows to be cautious, because he isn’t yet on track with the Lord, and he is still struggling with a lot of anxiety. The plot thickens, and some difficult things happen. God begins to transform all the characters in the story and bring them into alignment with His will.

A Love Like Ours ends quite happily with Jake transformed by God’s peace and healing power. This is a great story for readers eighteen and above.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

Dawn at Emberwilde (A Treasures of Surrey Novel) was written by Sarah E. Ladd and published by Thomas Nelson (2016). I have read four of Ladd’s books, and they are all excellent. The spiritual message in this book is much more subtle, but the main character has many admirable qualities. The plot is quite interesting and you will be caught up in its mystery and intrigue.

The story is set in England, not far from London, and begins at Fellsworth School. Isabel Creston is summoned to the superintendent’s study. She has been at school for many years as a student and thinks his summons may mean she has secured a position as a governess. But it does not. Aunt Margaret, the sister of Isabel’s deceased mother, and Uncle Charles are offering to take Isabel and Lizzy, Isabel’s young half-sister, into their home, after just recently discovering their whereabouts. Isabel decides this is a good plan, and within the hour, she and Lizzy leave the school.

The man who has come to accompany them, Mr. Bradford, is a good friend of her Aunt and Uncle. He also runs the foundling home for orphans, located on their property. At first, the reader admires and believes him to be a suitable future match for twenty-year-old Isabel. He is handsome, polished and seems very caring and interested in his work. Later on though, we discover things are not as they seem.

Isabel also meets a handsome and charming young magistrate, Colin. Although a good friend of her uncle’s, Colin has fallen out of favor with her aunt who believes he encouraged their only son, Freddy, to go off to war where he was killed. She will not forgive him. The couple also has several daughters who are married, and one at home, Constance, who is engaged.

When the trio arrives at Emberwilde, Isabel and Lizzy are introduced to their long-lost relatives and the lovely mansion where they will live, but mystery soon abounds as Isabel discovers the window in her room has been nailed shut. She asks the servant, Burns, about this. She is told that the Emberwilde Forest at the rear of the property is called The Black Wood Forest and is believed to be haunted.  Later we discover that Colin believes that smugglers are counting on everyone’s fear, so people won’t discover the contraband hidden in the caverns by Hearne Pond.

As Isabel begins to see her aunt for who she really is, a woman extremely concerned with outward appearances and show, she begins to be homesick for Fellsworth School, the only real home and friends she has ever known. In her packed belongings, she pulls out a letter and a beautiful little sampler from her dearest friend, Mary. Mary was always completely drawn to the Lord and prayer, and sent her with a sampler that contained the Bible verse, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up,” This helps Isabel to focus on thankfulness and the responsibility she has to care for her younger sister.

At first, Isabel is drawn to Mr. Bradford, but she only sees one side of him, and suspects that he is not really as he seems. She and Lizzy begin reading to the children at the foundling home and develop some relationships there. Her young sister misses the company of other children and this experience helps her.

Aunt Margaret seems to constantly sing Mr. Bradford’s praises and when special dinners are attended by Isabel, Aunt Margaret encourages the couple to spend time together. Isabel also has several encounters with Colin and finds him to be sincere and very caring. She begins to prefer his company to Mr. Bradford’s. Aunt Margaret is not at all happy about this. Isabel discovers her aunt involved in a quiet argument with Mr. Bradford. This confuses Isabel, but she lets go of her worries.

About three weeks before Isabel turns twenty-one, Mr. Bradford proposes marriage to her. Since she feels she does not know him well and does not love him, she turns him down. She does not reveal to him another reason. She has started to have feelings for the magistrate, Colin.

Aunt Margaret is upset that Isabel turned down such a wonderful man. She accuses Isabel of disrespect and betrayal, sending her and Lizzy swiftly back to Fellsworth School. Isabel is thrilled to be reunited with Mary and thankful to be spared a loveless marriage, but she misses her life at Emberwilde, and Colin.

I won’t reveal the happy ending, but all the pieces of the mystery are solved in a clever way and all is well. This book is a very enjoyable read, especially if you like the English countryside, a little mystery, suspense, romance, and drama.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate and published by Bethany House Publishers (2011) is the perfect summer read. It contains romance, suspense, beautiful descriptions of summer on a lake, and spiritual renewal for the main characters. You will enjoy the plot development against the backdrop of Moses Lake, Texas. The novel will also encourage you. Tragedy has entered the characters’ lives, but the story offers that renewal and healing can still take place as we trust in the Lord.

Andrea Henderson and her fourteen-year-old son, Dustin, move back to the home of her childhood summers and into her parent’s lake house. Andrea is disillusioned. Her husband has betrayed her. He was living a double life, involved in cheating his company and his marriage. Now divorced and on her own, Andrea has landed a job with Child Protective Services in the area and wants to make the most of it.

Game warden Mart McClendon is also new to Moses Lake. He is trying to forget the accident that took the lives of his brother and nephew. He feels somewhat responsible for this accident.  He and Andrea are both close to forty years old. He meets Andrea when Dustin and some of Dustin’s new friends disobey the lake boating rules. Mart wants Dustin to take a water safety course and offers to drive him there since his mother works full time.

Dustin’s father has promised a visit to his place this summer, but so far, he isn’t returning Dustin’s calls. Andrea is skeptical that Dustin’s father will fulfill his promise, and tries to encourage Dustin to make new friends and try some new activities. They meet Reverend Hay, who encourages Dustin to help with the sound system for the next theater production at church.

Near the beginning of the story, a mysterious little girl is seen with the town’s recluse, Len. Len is fairly reliable, but slow of speech, and his household is in tremendous disarray. Mart and Andrea come together to figure out the situation and try to help out. They are drawn together and develop an attraction for one another. They both walked in faith at one time, but disappointments and attitude issues have clouded the light of God’s grace.

The plot becomes more involved and there are some close calls, which I will let you discover on your own. Larkspur Cove ends happily, with God once again in the center of the main character’s lives and young Dustin happily settling into his new area.

I enjoyed the descriptions in this story. I could picture the lake, the area and the people. I also learned a lot from the lessons the characters learned. I know you will enjoy this story as much as I did. I would recommend this book for women or men eighteen years old and up.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

The Wonder of You, written by Susan May Warren and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2015) is one of the Christiansen Family novels.  It is a book most young women can relate to. The Wonder of You explores how two young adults can come to realize just how vital the Lord is in their decision-making.

Amelia Christiansen, 20, and Roark St. John, 25, are very different from each other. She grew up in a small resort town, Deep Haven, Minnesota. To study photography, she traveled to Prague. Roark, whose missionary parents died when he was a teen, has traveled many countries helping his Uncle Donovan with the family’s billion euro hotel business that he will someday inherit. Amelia and Roark met and fell in love on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

But Roark, running from tragedies in his past, pretended to be only a student. He failed to reveal to Amelia other pieces of information about himself. When she saw him on the bridge with another woman, not knowing the woman was just an old friend, Amelia cut her time in Europe short and high-tailed it home to her safe family and the high school boyfriend she had broken up with. Roark pursued her, but she and the large Christiansen family turned him away.

As The Wonder of You unfolds he’s back and more determined than ever to win her. He takes a job in the local coffee shop. At a creek-turned-raging-river near the town, Amelia witnesses a man attempting a daring rescue. She recognizes the man as Roark, but losing sight of him later she believes she only wanted it to be Roark. A couple of days later, she sees him and talks with him at the coffee shop. Her feelings, she discovers are a tangled mess.

The story shows Roark pursuing Amelia, sure she is meant to be a part of his life. Amelia is not sure at all. She still cares for him, but there is safety at home with her parents, the resort they own, her protective and sometimes overly protective five siblings and her old flame, Seth. Amelia, drawn to both Roark and Seth, decides to give both men a chance to win her heart.

Roark volunteers to help the Christiansen family and Amelia with a boy scout day trip. The demands of the trip and an emergency help Roark and Amelia gain a greater understanding and a deeper respect for each other.

Roark and Amelia feel a call from God, yet they can’t quite put their finger on exactly what that is. They are just hoping it involves each other. However, Amelia still seriously considers a relationship with Seth who is safe, would stay put and would make a fine husband. But as she continues to consider making a life with him, she feels unsettled. She wonders about her childhood dream to travel to other countries while pursuing her love of photography.

Roark knows his life has become very complicated. He will someday inherit a company that is worth billions, but he doesn’t know how to break that news to Amelia. He wants her affections to be for him and not his money.

Meanwhile, Seth is moody and angry with Roark, hoping he will simply leave town, so he and Amelia can continue where they left off. Seth is a Christian, yet he is somewhat immature.

Amelia can’t seem to make a choice between the two men, or even figure out if she really wants to stay home, or do more traveling. Roark finally reveals to Amelia that he is to inherit a hotel business. She leaves in a huff, feeling that he has lied to her and wondering what is the use of a relationship based on a lie. Her parents and siblings have come to love and admire Roark for the many amazing qualities they have observed in him since he has been living in Deep Haven.

I think that often young people are confused about God’s will and plan His for their future. There are some amazing lessons about waiting on the Lord in this story. Trust is something Amelia and Roark learn when a difficult trial arises near the end of the story.

In the end, Amelia learns she doesn’t need a man in order to serve and follow the Lord. She can do that trusting in Him alone. A relationship should only add to her love for the Lord. She learns she truly wants the man God had designed her to be with, someone who can serve the Lord alongside her. The story ends happily, with both Amelia and Roark finding their needs met in Christ and His glorious plan for their lives. A subplot involving Max and Amelia’s older sister, Grace, deepens and broadens the theme of trusting God with your heart.

 

Note from Nancy: A review on Amazon.com suggests that the novel assumes premarital sex. The author has Amelia and Roark kiss, but only kiss. This novel does make references to premarital sex having happened among Amelia’s siblings, but the family considers the premarital sex to be a mistake and a sin.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

From the Start written by Melissa Tagg and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is Book 1 of 2 in the Walker Family Series. It is a delightful read for women age 18 and above. The writing is funny, positive and cheerful, even though not everything that happens is upbeat.

Kate Walker, the main character, is in her twenties. She used to believe in romance until she gave her heart to Gil, a married man who lied about his marital status in order to win her affection. Now she is recovering from that experience.

Kate writes made-for-TV screenplays. When she is told a TV network is turning down her screenplays, she puts it all in perspective. Several years ago she had won an Emmy for her writing, but she knows lately her scripts have been lacking something. She considers moving home to Maple Valley, Iowa.

Not far into the story, we are introduced to Colton Greene, a former NFL quarterback who has been forced into early retirement due to a shoulder injury. His best friend is Kate’s brother, Logan Walker. Logan takes Colton home to Maple Valley with him to help his father repair a train depot damaged in a recent tornado. Colton’s manager, knowing Colton can’t play professional football, keeps urging him to find a writer to write his story. Colton is dragging his feet on this suggestion.

In Maple Valley, Colton meets Kate Walker unexpectedly when she lands at home late at night, goes to her room and finds him in her bed! She is shocked and quickly moves to another room. The next day, all is figured out and forgiven. Colton and Kate begin talking.

While living in LA, Colton was very depressed and discouraged after he was forced to give up sports. Also the girl he was recently seeing became engaged to somebody else.Colton finds himself loving small-town Maple Valley and its slower pace. He throws himself into helping Logan’s father prepare the train depot for Depot Day in early October. Kate admires Colton’s qualities of self-sacrifice and hard work. They both begin to think about God and how He might have a purpose in all of the changing events of their lives.

Colton asks Kate to write his story. She agrees and has completed several chapters when she discovers Colton’s parents died when he was nine, and he was in foster care until the age of eighteen. He did have a wonderful caseworker who loved the Lord. He still has many scars from the tragedy in his young life and Kate has trouble getting him to talk about his past.

From the Start is about a romance but it also looks at love between family members and between friends. Webster Hawks, a teenage boy in foster care, is on the football team. He becomes friends with Colton and Colton mentors him. Kate meets Megan, a single, twenty-one-year-old who owns the coffee shop in town and who discovers she is pregnant. Both Kate and Colton become the big brother and sister that these young people never had.

Things are going smoothly when a surprising twist comes about. Just as everyone is gathered for Depot Day to celebrate the newly renovated train station, there is a flood. Every one pitches in and helps with sand bags. Colton and Kate end up at Megan’s house because the bridge has been shut down for the night. That evening Colton takes Kate on a special date. He receives permission from a realtor to take her to a vacant home in town that she has always admired from a distance, but has never visited. They have a picnic and even see a movie.

On the way home, they argue. Colton is having second thoughts about a book being written about him. He has escaped the limelight and doesn’t want to be in it again. Kate doesn’t agree. Writing the book was going to help her and she had her heart set on it.  She wants to go back to Megan’s place, but he thinks they should talk. Colton keeps driving, and a deer runs across the road. Another vehicle hits their car. Colton’s knee is injured; Kate has broken some bones and is rushed to the hospital. He stays by her side.

Colton tells her family what has happened. They are forgiving, but he is convinced Kate won’t want anything to do with him. He feels responsible for her injuries and for disappointing her about the book. He decides to leave town and return to LA for awhile. Kate is very hurt that he has left without saying goodbye, but she understands how bad he must feel so she waits on the Lord to discover His plan. After Kate recovers, she returns to Chicago.

The story continues to twist and turn but it ends happily. The two of them discover a new faith, a ministry, and a lasting relationship with each other.

I enjoyed reading all the details in this story. It definitely kept my attention, and as always, kept me up at night. I learned that God’s plans for us are often very different from our own. In the end, His plans are better and more wonderful than anything we could think or imagine.  He uses all the joy and hardships to mold us into the vessels he wants us to be for His glory.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

The Love Letters written by Beverly Lewis and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is not your average love story. It is heartwarming in a way that will teach you some amazing lessons about how patient true love can be.

The plot centers around two main families, the Wengers and the Bitners. Marlena Wenger is in her early twenties. She has several siblings and recently her family has gone from Old Order Amish to Beachy Amish-Mennonite. Her mother asks her to go to a neighboring town for the summer to help her Mennonite grandmother, Janice Martin, whose beloved husband recently died. Marlena leaves behind her beau, Nat, and worries she will be lost without him.

The Bitners are her grandmother’s good friends and neighbors. They are Old Order Amish. They have three young daughters and a special-needs son, Jake (Small Jay), who will soon be a teen. Jake feels his father, Roman, has never understood him and won’t let him help much with the chores on their farm. Jake’s favorite friend is his cat, Sassafras, with whom he travels everywhere.

One day, Jake and his cat wander down by the mill and meet a man named Boston Calvert and his dog, Allegro. The man is middle-aged, seems intelligent and musical, plays a harmonica, but suffers from memory loss. Through a series of events, Boston comes to live with the Bitner family. He often asks Jake to read to him the letters Boston carries around in a leather satchel. The letters are love letters from an unknown lady named Abigail and addressed to my “Dearest Darling.” The other family members hear these letters and are delighted with their beauty.

Meanwhile, as Marlena settles in with Mammi Janice, she learns her sister Luella, has been in a serious car accident and is hospitalized. Luella had left her Amish family to marry an Englisher, Gordon. Marlena had tried to have a relationship with her sister, but they were never very close and she has not seen her for several years. Luella and her husband have a six-month old baby, Angela Rose. Gordon, who is in the military, is fighting overseas. Gordon’s aunt asks Marlena to care for the baby temporarily. Then Luella dies.

At first Marlena is stunned that she should be chosen for this task of caring for a baby and does not see how she will accomplish all the work on her grandma’s farm as well. Within a few short weeks, however, Marlena and Mammi have fallen in love with Angela Rose and can’t imagine life without her.

Jake is busy most days with his friend Boston who helps on the farm to earn his keep. Roman sees that his son is quite capable and takes more of an interest in him than he has in the past. In time, Boston remembers and the identity of the letter writer is revealed with happy results.

Letters also affect Marlena’s life. She and her beau Nat have been exchanging them. He asks her to stop attending the Mennonite Church and to find another place for her niece. Marlena is hurt and surprised that he would ask these things of her, especially seeing how much she is growing in her faith right where she is. She has also told the Lord she will serve Him in the ways He has led her, and doesn’t feel things should be any different. Will their relationship continue? What will happen to Marlena if it doesn’t?

In a nice plot twist a letter written by Luella to Gordon further  dramatically changes Marlena’s life.

The stories of the two families end happily. The new people who have come into their lives have changed them and blessed them. Marlena is especially thankful that the Lord opened her eyes to a closer walk with Him. He has granted her heart’s desires, along with giving her the knowledge that her sister, Luella, returned to her faith before she died and that they will be reunited one day.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

A Valley of Betrayal (Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War) by Tricia N. Goyer, published by Moody Publishers (2007) is the first book in a series of three novels. I am recommending it for those who are college-age and above. It centers around a twenty-five year-old artist named Sophie Grace from Boston. The setting is Spain, 1936. Spain is engaged in a civil war between Spanish patriots and Nazi-backed Franco forces.

Traveling on a French train bound for Spain, Sophie has enough pieces of luggage for an extended stay. She is going to Spain to find her beloved Michael, a news photographer covering the war. He is from Spain; he and Sophie met in Boston several years ago. They spent time developing a serious relationship.

When Sophie gets off the train at the Spanish border, she realizes Spain has refused entrance to foreigners for a period of time. She meets a man who was on the same train. Walt Block, a reporter from New York, promises to help her find a way to Madrid if she will pose as his interpreter. She agrees and they proceed into the country.

Sophie is delighted to be reunited with Michael, but notices he seems to be hiding things from her. He is also gone a good amount of the time. They spend time dining together, going to various places and attending a bullfight. Michael’s relationship with Maria, a beautiful young woman who claims to be only Michael’s friend, troubles Sophie. In her mind, this woman’s interest in Michael goes deeper than that. Michael is vague about his relationship with Maria.

More characters are introduced. Phil Stanford, a teacher from the US and his best friend Attis Brody have recently arrived in Barcelona, along with other members of the American track team, to prepare for a race. Soon after they arrive, the war intensifies, the race is cancelled. Phil and Attis decide to volunteer on the front lines.

Meanwhile, Sophie is discovering that the war is disrupting her carefully arranged plans of a marriage to Michael. Michael tells Sophie that the fighting will begin soon and she can’t stay in the country. He wants her to leave for her own safety, but he also is hiding certain things from her. She doesn’t want to leave and decides to help in the war effort. (In the next two books we learn that Michael is involved in much more than his photographs, but I don’t want to spoil the mysterious plot.)

As the story continues, A Valley of Betrayal becomes more intricate and fascinating. Other interesting characters are introduced, and you find yourself obtaining an education about a war perhaps you never knew existed.

One of the main points of the book is that helping others in their time of need is a worthwhile endeavor. Sophie, Phil and other characters volunteer to help the Spanish people because they have developed a love for them. These characters also are growing in their faith and sense God’s calling on their lives.

Book 1 leaves you hanging. You will definitely want to read the second and third books in this series. To me, A Valley of Betrayal was more than a novel. It fleshes out reasons we serve the Lord and put others first. It shows the sacrifices many people who have come before us have made. It also shows the blessings of following the Lord as He calls each of us to serve Him.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Shaken, by Kariss Lynch and published by Realms (2014) is Book One in the Heart of a Warrior Series. This story really got me down on my knees for Haiti and other poverty stricken countries. I liked that this book was a little more realistic than some others I have read. It wasn’t completely happy at all times and explored issues of trauma following a tragedy. There are some very happy, peaceful parts of the book, but I also learned a lot about life’s challenges.

The story centers around Kaylan Richards and her best friend Sarah Beth, who have a passion to be used to change the country of Haiti. Kaylan comes from a very loving Christian home with three brothers.

As the novel begins, she has just graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in nutrition and is trying to decide when is the best time to tell her family that she has decided to take a short-term missions trip to Haiti. Her graduation party is in full swing at her parents’ house. Among the guests is Nick, her brother Micah’s best friend. He and Micah are Navy SEALS. Before Nick left for Afghanistan a year ago, he and Kaylan dated. Now he regrets breaking up with Kaylan and will do anything to win her back.

Later that evening, with Sarah Beth by her side, Kaylan explains to her family why she wants to go to Haiti and forgo her internship in California. She states that Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. She wants to train parents how to take care of their children’s nutritional needs and share Jesus. She and her friend want to change some of the negative patterns the people are caught up in. While her family is concerned and questions her timing, they admire her determination and self-sacrifice.

The young women travel to Haiti and move in with Rhonda, a long-term missionary, who lives in Port-Au-Prince. Kaylan begins helping Rhonda at the clinic and Sara Beth, whose specialty is education, helps teach children. The local voodoo priest, Eliezer, is hostile to Kaylan and Sarah Beth. He has a degree of control over the people and he doesn’t want to give it up. He threatens Kaylan and Sarah Beth, telling them to stop interfering.

Meanwhile, Nick and Micah are on missions with the SEALS. Nick misses Kaylan and writes to her often, receiving letters back from her as well. He is not able to tell her exactly where he is or what he is doing.

About three weeks after the young women arrive in Haiti, the huge earthquake hits. The description of what happened is somber and frightening. Kaylan and Sarah Beth are trapped under their beds. Finally, Kaylan is able to get out and go to Sarah Beth. Quite a few hours pass before Kaylan is rescued, but Sara Beth doesn’t make it out alive.

Kaylan is crushed in mind and spirit. She keeps putting one foot in front of the other, helping others amidst overwhelming grief. The voodoo priest, Eliezer, confronts her, accusing her of being at fault for the earthquake, and even for Sara Beth’s death. Kaylan is not thinking rationally and begins to believe him.

Micah and Nick hear the news about Haiti. They get permission to take supplies there and to bring Kaylan home. They find her in the rubble and ruin and get her home as quickly as possible. Nick stays around for several weeks, but Kaylan is not herself. She has become despondent and bitter toward the Lord. Nick finally has to return to his work with the SEALS. He assures her that the Lord will take care of her.

Kaylan slowly begins to put her mind and time toward relief efforts for Haiti. She also teaches dance to little children. When she and Sarah Beth were children, they would often dance together. On leave again, Nick finds her in the dance studio. Kaylan is praying for the first time in many weeks. She tells the Lord she will begin to trust Him in the middle of all the tragedy. Nick and Kaylan have a lovely reunion and decide to go steady.

This is a series, so the ending isn’t complete, but you have the impression that Kaylan and Nick are doing well with each other and with the Lord. So much has been healed. They both decide they want to focus on the future and not the past.

This is a particularly enlightening book as all of our lives are challenging and even tragic at times. This story can help in dealing with such experiences. It also encourages us to see how we can be used to pray for other countries and to go there if the Lord is calling us.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Book Reviews

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 87 other followers

Search Posts by Categories