Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Naomi and Caleb, Frannie and Rocky, Abigail and Micah: their three unlikely romances unfold in An Amish Christmas Gift.
In Naomi’s Gift, author Amy Clipston tells a sweet and uncomplicated, warm and Christmassy love story. The wording, and the story itself, is redundant in places, and the style isn’t the most subtle or nuanced, but any fan of Amish fiction should enjoy Naomi and Caleb’s tale.
What struck me first about A Christmas Visitor by author Kelly Irvin? The narrator’s dry humor. What I liked next? The hero’s awareness that the girl he loves is someone other men wouldn’t call a beauty, but other people’s standards aren’t what dictate his attraction to her. Plus, seeing that she’s spilled something on her apron yet again or that she’s sweating through her dress doesn’t make her any less attractive to him. It’s a down-to-earth setup, not a run-of-the-mill kind of attraction for a romance story, and I like that.
Between Rocky and Frannie, Rocky’s storyline impressed me as the stronger of the two. While the story as a whole has somewhat of an underdeveloped feel, as if there’s potential for something more distinctive or compelling that doesn’t surface, it’s still a pleasant read overall.
In An Unexpected Joy by author Ruth Reid, Abigail and Micah’s story took a while to grow on me, but once it did, it did. I like that the talkative heroine is sweet, but not so-sugary-til-it’s-corny sweet. She has a convincing compassion that gives her boldness. And the hero’s change is a gentle challenge, showing what it’s like to find out you were wrong about people you’ve made assumptions about, what it’s like to find a way to do better.
Still, what I appreciate most about this story is the sacred and moral tension. “Abigail wasn’t sure if she could repent for helping the lost, feeding the hungry–despite breaking the rules of the Ordnung.” Might adamantly adhering to all the “rules” (following the “letter of the law,” as it were) actually get in the way of God’s intent at times, get in the way of true love and compassion?
I’ve not read an overabundance of Amish fiction, but out of what I have read, An Unexpected Joy is my favorite.
Note: when I took my first chance on a novel with an Amish theme last year, I explained why I declined to read the subgenre for so long. Now, after reading around eight Amish fiction books from eight different authors, there are more personal reasons why I’m now bidding the subgenre “adieu” with this review. But, I figured, what better way to close out my excursion through Amish fiction than with Christmas themed stories, as Christmas is, of course, thee holiday of all holidays? 🙂