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HEART OF CHRISTMAS by Marta Perry
Susannah Miller has taught the children at an Amish school in central Pennsylvania for twelve years. Tobias "Toby" Unger, who had once been committed to a future with Susannah before leaving their community without explanation, returns years later as a widower with two small children. Susannah doesn't know why Toby ran off to another town before their wedding day, having only heard rumors about his marriage to someone else a year later, then the eventual birth of his children and finally, the loss of his wife.
Can Susannah and Toby work on the school's Christmas program together for the benefit of his children's emotional healing? Will this couples' past heal or will their concentrated time together cause more problems for both of them?
HEART OF CHRISTMAS by Marta Perry brings two people together who share a past, their faith, along with the possibility of a happy-ever-after. Forgiveness is accentuated throughout this emotional story. Fans of Marta Perry will recognize her style in this sweet story with circumstances that I didn't expect. Although faith leads the characters in their choices, they are not without faults that make them waver in their decisions, as well as cause emotional upheaval. I found the situation in this story unusual compared to other Amish stories I've read, which accentuated Susannah's ability to forgive. The children are adorable and Susannah's instincts are good with them. Toby, on the other hand, is very lucky that Susannah has such a forgiving and generous heart. This story makes you think about what you would do if you were either of the main characters.
Author's website: http://www.martaperry.com/
A PLAIN HOLIDAY by Patricia Davids
Sally Yoder becomes a nanny for Kimi and Ryder Higgins, a rebellious teen and an impressionable eight-year-old, in Cincinnati, Ohio, during her rumspringa. Feeling too bold for Amish life, she's not sure she'll ever be baptized in the faith she was raised. Even though she misses her family, Amish life may never suit her outspoken ways. Ben Lapp assumes he is rid of that pesky girl who followed him everywhere in Hope Springs, Ohio, when he moves away to work on an Englisch farm. When the two Higgins children, along with their nanny, are sent on a Christmas vacation on the farm where Ben works, he's not sure he'll survive being around Sally Yoder again, but he's even more surprised by her reaction to him and by how much she has changed.
A sleigh ride to get a Christmas tree and to visit their Amish great-grandmother endangers all their lives in a blizzard and their hearts in the aftermath. Will opposites attract when the stars and holiday cheer light their way?
Patricia Davids is a new-to-me author and I found her storytelling compelling. I became so caught up in this adventure and worried for her characters' welfare, as well as doubted that Sally and Ben would ever come to terms for an agreeable future. I was pleasantly surprised by their transformation in such a short novella. That's not easy to accomplish and I became an immediate fan of Patricia Davids.
Author's website: http://www.patriciadavids.com/
These two stories are well suited for a duology. Both novellas are about couples who were raised in the Amish community and are reunited by circumstance. We learn through these stories that being raised Amish doesn't mean that all decisions are clear-cut, especially for couples with a history hard to ignore and feelings unspoken, then reawakened when brought together with the mutual goal of helping others.
Both novellas contain the realism of Amish life with a modern day edge that complicates these couples' commitment to their life choices, while testing their faith in God as well as themselves. For those looking for sweet romance, both include a few kisses while focusing more on a budding relationship. The inspirational side is nicely sprinkled within, teaching by example, without taking over the story. AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS is an ideal holiday treat, heartrending with a lovely inspirational message that will renew your holiday spirit and faith in the reason for the season.
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