Ella and Ezra plan to get married one day but circumstances are drawing them apart. With Ezra being sent away and Ella having feelings for another man will they find there way back to each other?
This is book three is the series called Women of Lancaster. You do not have to read the other books in the series but I would recommend it. You will gain a better understanding of the family dynamics and different characters throughout the book.
I liked the story of the two main characters and how they interacted. I found the conversations in the book to flow well and help move the story in the right direction. The explanation of the differences of the Amish and Mennonite faiths was helpful. The story itself moved quickly and kept me entertained. I did find some of the characters lacking in depth and that is why I gave this book 4/5 stars.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
Review Summary: When I pick up a book with Mindy Starns Clark as one of the authors I expect to find an intriguing mystery, that keeps me up late at night trying to figure out who the culprit is. This book wasn't one of those, so I was a little disappointed. This book was a very slow start for me and I struggled getting into the book especially the main character, Ella. I struggle with characters that are manipulative and stop at nothing to get their way. However, I must admit by I cried tears of joy at where the authors brought these characters.
I should also mention here that although this is a book 3 of the series, the book didn't feel like a continuation. It might have added more for me to have read previous books, but it didn't make it any less enjoyable.
Digging Deeper: The story opens with Ella visiting her Grandmother who gives her a journal that belonged to Ella's great-grandmother,Sarah, and she ask Ella to break the code that Sarah used throughout her book. Ella is the primary female character in this book. She's a headstrong, independent young woman of the Mennonite faith. There is much discussion regarding her faith and the Amish faith of her boyfriend, Ezra. Ella wants to go to school and learn to be a baker, something that is frowned upon by the Amish community and Ezra's family.
The book provides an interesting assortment of characters from the conservative Amish of Lancaster Count to the slightly more relaxed Amish of Indiana. It was also interesting to see the contrast and comparison of the Amish and Mennonites. The authors did a beautiful job of portraying both groups in a positive light. I loved the Amish pastor that Ella meets in Indiana.
Another aspect of the story was Ella's relationship with her father. Ella had much to learn and deal with in regards to him and his return to Lancaster County. I think one of the strongest messages of the book comes from this part of the story.
Final thoughts: Although not my favorite book by Mindy Starns Clark, it did have things to offer and I enjoyed it. Some of us (ok maybe me) become adrenaline junkies and need a dead body on the first 3 pages, where this book takes a slower pace. If you enjoy Amish book, I think this is a good one. If you enjoy stories that take a look at history and the importance of finding one's own way, definitely a winner. If you want dead bodies and high intensity, then you might take a pass.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. I am under no obligation to provide anything but my honest opinion.
This was a very interesting read. However, although the romance is what first attracted me to this novel, it is not what kept my interest. As the story opens, Ella's grandmother gives her a book, sort of a diary, that Ella's great-grandmother wrote since she was a child, right up until a few days before she died. Some parts of this diary are written in code, and Ella's grandmother is desperate to know what her mother wrote and asks Ella to decipher the code for her, since she has not been able to do so after many years of trying. Now, that got my attention. Not only because of the secrets that were obviously hidden in the diary, but because I wanted to know why Ella's grandmother needed to know what was written there. It is very clear since the beginning that it's not just curiosity: her peace of mind depends on it. I loved that; it intrigued me.
The story is well written; I loved learning more about the differences and similarities between Amish and Mennonites, and how they played out in Ella's and Ezra's romance as well as in the whole family dynamic. But the story is too long. Ella is a nice character but, although she is 17 going on 18 years old, most of the time her voice "sounds" much more older, more mature. What I mean is that it seems as if she was not written with an 18 year old in mind. I've seen this many times but in reverse: an older character that sounds like a teenager. I'm not saying that Ella acted like a mature adult. I'm saying she sounded like one: the choice of words, the phrasing.
I had mixed feelings about the romance (not in a bad way). Sometimes I loved Ezra. Other times, it amazed me how Ella could be in love with him. Luke, on the other hand, was so sweet and quiet that I sometimes wanted to shout "Speak up!" I really wanted Ella to pick one specific boy, but, strangely, I never stopped rooting for the other. Quite interesting. Both love interests were very well written, as well as Ella's mother, grandmother and brother.
It's a sweet story of love, forgiveness, faith and trusting God to lead us to what's best for us. It is the third book of a series, so there are many characters and a long family history behind it. It can stand alone, but read as a series should give the reader a better understanding of the family.
3 1/2 stars
*I received a copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.