An Amish Country Christmas by Charlotte Hubbard and Naomi King is two romantic seasonal tales wrapped in a beautiful cover.
In "The Christmas Visitors," Nate and Bram Kanagy arrive in Cedar Creek to pick up their new sleigh and courtin' buggy from James Graber. While in town, they catch sight of Martha Coblentz. They soon learn she has a twin sister named Mary. The boys are smitten with the Coblentz twins right away, and the girls invite them to stay at their parents' house to help them celebrate their birthdays. When the girls create a bit of trouble for the Kanagy boys, it will take a heap of grace and some unexpected intervention to put things right.
Then in "Kissing the Bishop," as the season's first snow arrives in Willow Ridge, the residents are in a time of transition. Dealing with the fallout of Hiriam Knepp's actions and his excommunication leaves them considering a new bishop.
Luckily, Nazareth Hooley and her sister, Jerusalem, have agreed to help Tom Hostetler host the bishops' meeting. Preacher Tom enjoys their company, especially Nazareth's; but he knows the laws won't allow him to remarry after his wife left him for another man. Nazareth and Tom's dream of a life together seems out of reach, but perhaps faith and love can bring them a miracle.
Even after I finished the book last night I was unsure what this review would look like. I love this author's work under both her names, so I signed up for all three of her book tours (she has three new releases this fall). With all the books I read and review these days, I usually donate most of them. But these ones I keep because I want to make sure I have both of the complete series. Can you tell I admire her work?
While in most ways this book featuring two crossover short stories remains true to the Amish fiction genre, I also feel the author took a bit of a risk with the content. The physical attraction of these characters to each other plays a more significant role than one may be used to seeing. It is handled within the confines of the genre and not offensive in any way, but it caught me off guard. That said, they are spectacular stories; true displays of what faith, patience, and love can mean to people's lives.
I feel Hubbard/King excelled in portraying very different age groups in one collection and holding it together by that hope for the future. The Kanagy boys and the Coblentz twins are just starting out in life. Bram hasn't even made a commitment to the church yet. In "Kissing the Bishop," however, Nazareth and Jerusalem Hooley are in their fifties, Tom has married children, and Vernon Gingerich is a widower who has known Tom since their younger years. It's nice to see these two age groups alongside each other. I don't feel there are enough romance novels written about Tom and Nazareth's age group, and the ones surrounding characters in their late teens and early twenties can focus too much on the physical side of a relationship.
Though I've read this book out of the chronological order of both the Cedar Creek and Seasons of the Heart series, An Amish Country Christmas did nothing but make me eager to read Winter Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard and Amanda Weds A Good Man: One Big Happy Family by Naomi King even more than I did when I requested them. If you enjoy seasonal romances, you'll want to get your hands on this one, too.
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (October 1, 2013)
I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.