A Marriage of the Heart -Kelly Long
Kelly Long's novella was a romance about Abigail Kauffman and Joseph Lambert. Abigail Kauffman seems to be a naive girl who wants to escape her Amish town, and so tricks Joseph Lambert into a marriage with her right in the beginning of the story. We are left with the two in a loveless marriage where the reader is left wondering if everything will turn out all sunshine and roses. (Not to give any spoilers, but it's a romance novel, so I wasn't really wondering how the story would end. It's about like Disney, yeah?).
It was not until the climax of the story that I felt drawn in at all. I won't reveal anything, but I did find myself a little bit satisfied by the little injection of reality into the story that pushed it over the edge from being one-dimensional to something a bit more. I rather liked Joseph Lambert by the end of the story.
Overall, I imagine a woman who is a fan of Amish romance stories would have given this one a 3/5. Since I'm not a fan, I'm thinking a 1.5/5 or a 2/5.
Healing Hearts -Beth Wiseman
Healing Hearts is about the return of a husband, Naaman Lapp, who left his family for near on a year with no legitimate explanation, and now his wife, Levina, and his family must learn to accept his return. His wife has grown closer to God whilst he was gone and she has become a stronger woman, but forgiveness does not come easy to a husband of 31 years that left for nearly a year. Hurt goes deep with that sort of thing.
While I think this could have been a brilliant story, the fact that it is a novella completely ruins it for me. Even as an Amish story, I can tell I would have probably loved it just because it is an intriguing story idea. The major failing in this story is that I feel like I came in on the middle. The story starts with Naaman's return home, and the reader must go from there. This makes it hard to sympathize or empathize with any of the characters in the beginning, because they are all new to me. I have never experienced abandonment by a family member, so in order for me to feel emotional about it, I need to live it out through someone else's eyes. However, I cannot, because I only get the second half of the story.
However, the second half of the story given to me was full of enough character development to redeem the story from a possible 1 star rating. I found the struggle of trying to renew trust and the development between Naaman and Levina quaint, if a bit nauseating. The plot twist with Larry was annoying to me, since I'm not big on meddling (unless we're dealing with Emma, in which case meddling makes the story amazing). Personally, I would have liked the story if it started from before Naaman left and centered solely around Naaman and his son, Adam. Everything else was a bit distracting to me. I give it a 2.5/5
What the Heart Sees -Kathleen Fuller
Right away, we have a blind Amish girl. I feel as if I've read such a story before, back when I actually liked reading Amish romance. Something by Beverly Lewis, I believe. Ellie Chump also lost her sight in a car accident, except in this novel she was actually in a car and not a wagon, and it's not hysterical blindness. It's blindness caused by a head injury. Five years after the accident, an estranged Christopher Miller returns, and he and Ellie run into each other (not literally. figuratively). While Ellie seems to have healed from her accident 5 years past, Christopher is still in emotional pain. We are left wondering if Ellie can help heal Christopher's heartache whilst possibly falling in love at the same time.
I though this was a rather decent story. Cliche, yes, but then most romance novels are, so who am I to complain since I still enjoy reading them? There is a spiritual lesson of forgiveness to be learned in this story -now that I think of it, I think forgiveness is an element in all of the stories. I wonder if that was coincidental. The story was well-written, and I found myself intrigued despite the Amishness of it.
I think women who like Amish novels would have given this a 4/5 or 4.5/5. I give it a 3/5.
Funny thing I did not realize until I was halfway finished with the final novella in the book was that all three stories took place in the same community, and characters from each story was mentioned in the other two. On that note, it is important you read the three stories in the order they appear in the book, since you will stumble across spoilers if you don't read them in order.
(In case I was unclear in the beginning, I received this book from booksneeze.com)