Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review: Christmas in Apple Ridge

Title: Christmas in Apple Ridge
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Review by Amber Hill

Imagine the sound of sleigh bells as we travel to Apple Ridge, PA to meet three Amish couples: Beth and Jonah, Mattie and Gideon, and Sadie and Levi.  Christmas in Apple Ridge, written by Cindy Woodsmall is comprised of 3 novellas with each focusing on the courtship of each couple.

The common thread weaving through each book is one of each character having gone through a difficult and painful experience that has made them harden their hearts to keep love out… But love manages to weave its way into each heart. Though these are three separate books, we see each of the main characters again as minor characters in each of the other books. These books can be read separately or as a series.

In the first book, The Sound of Sleigh Bells, we meet Beth and Lizzy. Lizzy is Beth’s aunt and is 10 years her senior. They Lizzy has resigned herself to a life of singleness and so has Beth, but Lizzy does not want Beth to experience the loneliness of being single forever. Beth is distrustful of men after having been in an abusive relationship and is carrying a heavy burden of guilt. After she finds a carving that inspires her and seems to give her new life, Lizzy does a little meddling and correspondence begins between Beth and Jonah. Love comes with the sound of sleigh bells, but not without its challenges!

The second book, The Christmas Singing, focuses on Mattie and Gideon. Mattie is called Mattie Lane by Gideon and he explains it this way, “A day with her is a journey all by itself – a journey down a one-of-a-kind country road” (pg. 306). Mattie and Gideon grew up together and were very much in love when they were younger. Gideon broke up with her for honorable reasons, but the reason he gave her was not so honorable. Mattie chose the “safe” guy, but it was a relationship of indifference with no passion. He couldn’t break her heart because he had no access to it, as Mattie’s sister-in-law pointed out. Gideon and Mattie work out their differences and realize that love is worth the risk.

The third book, The Dawn of Christmas, introduces us to Sadie and Levi. Sadie had been betrayed by her fiancé and was determined that she would be single rather than being hurt again. Levi believed that he had insight into relationships by his observations of the pain his brother and friend had experienced from a woman and decided that he would never marry. Friendship blossoms into more and as Christmas morning dawns so does their future together.

I really enjoyed this book. It is what I call “fluffy” reading – very little substance, but feel-good and happy. It was completely predictable and you knew who would end up together. When it was revealed that Beth had been in an abusive relationship I could immediately identify with her character and the fear of placing her trust in someone and letting someone into her heart. I liked that the characters lives were interwoven because throughout the three books you met so many people from the community and while main characters from one book were only secondary characters in another, you could still follow their lives. If you like Amish Fiction and feel-good reads, you’ll enjoy this book.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Water Brook/ Mulnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program.

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