I've (Charlotte) called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don't realize that several Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations - and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, the other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.
Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my new Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people - to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I've been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.
Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my new Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker - to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts - I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I'm not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.
I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making friends.
ISBN #: 978-1420121704
Page Count: 324
Copyright: September 4, 2012
Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they're bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Bakery. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential. Perhaps she could find love again - if only there weren't so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved cafe at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for and the love she deserves.
Autumn Winds is actually the second book in the Seasons of the Heart series. I reviewed the first book, Summer of Secrets earlier this year (click on the Reviews by Authors link to locate my review).
I have always had an affinity for the Inspirational Romance genre. I think it began when my mother purchased Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series, which I've read time and time again. There's something sweet and romantic about a love story that's old-fashioned and void of smut. Charlotte Hubbard's Seasons of the Heart series will be forever on my bookshelves so that I may read them time and time again as well.
Miriam Lantz is a widowed Amish woman, the mother of triplet girls and the owner of the Sweet Seasons Bakery. She is also the coveted prize of their Order's Bishop. He, Bishop Knepp, is in constant pursuit of her. He is so relentless that I was enraged on her behalf. I've always wondered what it would be like to live in the Amish community, but if I had to deal with a Bishop pursuing me the way Bishop Knepp pursued Miriam I would be shunned in a heartbeat for my reaction. I wanted to shake this man. My heart went out to Miriam. I even became fearful for her at one point because of the severity of the Bishop's actions in trying to persuade Miriam to marry him.
Thankfully, Ben Hooley arrived on the scene. He's an introspective kind of guy, but when he noticed the Bishop laying it on thick and twisting the Amish customs to suit his own desires, well ... that didn't set too well with Ben. He brought the Bishop a surprise that helped keep him in line.
Ben and Miriam are attracted to each other and feel an immediate connection, but so does Rhoda, one of Miriam's triplet daughters. Rhoda is so desperate for a man that she thinks every new guy needs to notice her and ask her out. I do feel badly for Rhoda, especially when she embarrassed herself with Ben. I can also see where it would get frustrating living in the same Order your whole life with a limited supply of men to choose from. I'm hoping Rhoda finds love in the third novel because she sure didn't find it in this one.
If you've never read an Inspirational Romance because you think it's too tame, well I've got a teaser for you! This is between Ben and Miriam. They've admitted that they like each other and would like to start seeing each other. They're in the kitchen of the Sweet Seasons Bakery early one morning getting their day started. By the way, a farrier is another name for a blacksmith.
Ben wiped his plate clean with the last chunk of his roll and then popped it into his mouth. He grinned at her, chewing ... looking like a little boy scheming something up. "Ya might've been married to a farrier, Miriam," he murmured as he scooted his stool back, "but you've never known fire the way I'm gonna stoke it up. Can ya handle that?" - Page 91
Now, you might be saying, "Psshh ... that's nothing!" Consider the situation: these are two Amish people who are taught to keep their emotions in check. They're taught to be dutiful servants of God and to not let anything deter them from a close relationship with Him. So, we have two people, fully clothed, respectable, who haven't seen a porno movie or fleshy, erotic scenes in books or television shows and the guy's talking about stoking a "fire" so hot that she's not going to be able to handle it. That got MY blood boiling, so I know it had to have affected Miriam! I would've took that man right there!!! Of course, I'm not Amish either. =)
I think by now you can tell that I loved this book. I also love that at the back of each book are some of the recipes that are mentioned within the story. I've only tried one of these recipes so far (the Stuffed Shells recipe) and it was delish! I am eagerly anticipating the third book coming out so I can read more about Miriam, Ben, Rhoda, Bishop Knepp and the rest of the Willow Ridge families.
*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author for the purposes of this tour in exchange for an honest review.