Christmas in Apple Ridge, by Cindy Woodsmall, is probably by far one of the most adorable set of stories I have read in a while. It was my first time picking up a set of Amish fiction, and I’m not afraid to admit that I wasn’t quite sure what kind of story to expect from it. Of course I have heard of the Amish, but never really spent enough time learning of their lifestyle. I didn’t really get what the draw was to Amish fiction and because of this I unintentionally brushed off the desire to read it. Then life happened, and it was the holidays, and my reading kind of got away from me. It is a big part of why I’m finally finishing this book in April rather then December, Christmas time, when I intended to finish it. I finally made my way back to Christmas in Apple Ridge. I am so glad I did because once I got past the first chapter I found myself in a world that pulled me in faster then any historical fiction (which I LOVE). I found a place of ‘old world’ lifestyle and modern day setting, and suddenly realized why so many have fallen in love with it. I can’t say enough of how adoring the simple Amish life is, and how it really takes you back to a time I think most of us women love reading, and dreaming, about. Then you mix in it’s characters who, most, were caught between both worlds. Sprinkle a little bit of romance, and a dash of drama, and you got a book that is almost impossible to put down.
‘The Sound of Sleigh Bells‘ is book one, with main character Beth Hertzler, an Amish woman who is frozen in time by a horrible tragedy that has ensnared her heart and soul. The thought of her never finding love again weighs on her family, especially her aunt Lizzy who has spent most of her life alone, and does not wish that life for her Beth. Beth just can’t trust another soul to see that which she keeps so hidden deep inside her heart. She does her best to keep everyone out, but doesn’t expect that the one thing that would penetrate that icy center of hers to be not a person, but a carving. When her aunt discovers this secret ability the carving has in touching Beth’s heart, she wonders if the artist himself might have the same effect. Jonah, the artist, soon finds that maybe God has a much bigger plan for his gift of carving new life into things. The problem is, can he get Beth to see that sometimes we need those God puts in our life in order to overcome our tragedies, and then again, can he himself get past his own scars, and give them both the chance at finding love.
‘The Christmas Singing‘ is book two, with main character Mattie Lane, an Amish woman who decides to leave the Amish life, and a broken heart, behind in Apple Ridge in order to find healing in Berlin, Ohio. She manages to not only open her own shop ‘Mattie Cakes’ but also manages to find a trustworthy place to keep her heart, in the hands of a man named Sol. Everything is going according to plan and Mattie couldn’t be more comfortable in life. That comfort doesn’t last long though, and after being gone three years Mattie finds herself forced back to Apple Ridge, and having to face Gideon, the man who was responsible for her never wanting to return. Sadly Mattie could not avoid finding herself alone with Gideon, and she knew she was bound to ask why Gideon left her all those years ago. Gideon felt he was doing right by Mattie, but seeing her again made it harder for him to ignore his feelings, and he wondered how much longer he could go without telling her the truth. Will telling Mattie the truth heal the hurt he’d caused her years ago, or will it damage the relationship they’ve managed to revive during her short time home?
“The Dawn of Christmas” is book three, with main character Sadie Yoder, an Amish woman who finds a love, and escape, in living outside her Old Order Amish life, and dreaming of her mission trips to Peru. After years of her family insisting she come home and settle down, Sadie decides she can’t escape them forever, and decides to pay her family a visit. During her visit, and while escaping her family’s scoldings, Sadie finds herself stumbling upon an Amish man with her same problems. Levi is a bachelor who distrusts women after witnessing his brother’s heartbreak, and struggles to follow his brother and parents advice to settle down and find a good woman. Him and Sadie soon find their friendship has a benefit, and decide to use their time together to keep their families at bay. As Sadie’s mission trip draws near, Sadie soon finds she’s having trouble choosing between her mission trip, and the man who has brought her life more joy then she had ever thought possible. That is until an old heartbreak of Sadie’s finds it’s way between them, forcing Sadie and Levi to face their pasts, and problems of trust. Can they learn to trust love again, and in the process find faith in each other?
What I love most about series like this is how the stories intertwine with one another, and the characters are all connected in one way or another. It’s so great when you move on to the next book and you can catch up with the characters from the previous book, as well as get to know the new ones. Each story is similar in struggles, but unique in it’s own way, and all tell a wonderful message of love, faith, trust, and God’s ability to turn even the worst of struggles into wonderful blessings. Well worth the read, and am so glad I got the opportunity to review them. 🙂
–I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.