Published January 1, 2012
Trade paperback, 352 pages
This is the first Amish-themed historical fiction book that I read and I loved it. Cramer managed to keep my interest throughout the story with real characters facing difficult and life-changing situations. Although the book cover and the synopsis would lead a reader to believe this is a just a romance, it's really more of a family saga taking place in the 1920s, and Miriam's struggle with her feelings for Domingo, a half-breed Mexican man who isn't Amish.
Miriam's parents, Caleb and Martha Bender moved their ten children and their families to Paradise Valley in Mexico to pioneer a new Amish colony. But life is difficult because of the bandits that roam the mountain range and disease that hits the small colony. The Amish people are gentle and will not resort to violence to protect themselves. They rely on their faith and this theme, along with that of God's forgiveness is strong and well-suited to the story without overwhelming the reader.
The characters are well-rounded with strong traits and flaws that made me care about them and their outcome. I loved Miriam's strength and her relationship with her younger sister, Rachel. She wasn't afraid to do what was right even if it was unconventional. Domingo was courageous, as was his sister Kyra, and true to himself. He respected Caleb, who he worked for, and he was a man of principle. He was kind, yet could be fierce to protect those he loved. And the author succeeded in making him a sexy man in an Amish novel!
The author deftly drew me right into their conflicts, and I was transported to the dusty and dangerous mountain range of Mexico where there was plenty of action with the bad guys. None of it was predictable and I read this book quickly to see how it would all turn out. There was a scene that left me in tears. The ending was realistic and left me searching more works from this author, which I now want to read. (This is the second book in the Daughters of Caleb Bender series.) I have to mention one last thing that endeared me to this author's writing. He includes a character who is mentally disabled, portrays her realistically (I've worked with this population) and gives her a role that made me cheer.
I am Dale Cramer's newest fan. If you like Christian historical fiction that is well-written, clean, with a great plot and memorable characters, you should try this author. Not to be missed.
Note: This book includes some scenes of violence with bandits who attack. It is not gratuitous or over the top.
Reviewed by Laura
Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
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