This is the first novel I have read by Cindy Woodsmall. It will not be the last! "The Hope of Refuge" is a tale of redemption and new beginnings. Heroine Cara Moore has been on the run for years. She is broke and fears for her life. She takes her daughter Lori and ends up in the small Amish town of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania. Amish farmer Ephriam Mast takes her in going against the Old Order rules. After all she is one of their own...or is she?
A mystery unfolds as Cara and Ephriam build a friendship while his sister Deborah tries to figure out her own future. Thinking she has found the man of her dreams in Mahlon Stoltzfus, Deborah Mast begins to doubt his commitment after he pulls away from her. His mother Ada, sees the writing on the wall and steps in to support Deborah setting them both on a new path.
Author Cindy Woodsmall weaves together two tales filled with intrigue and conflict, both internal and external. Her characters are well defined and likable. She ratchets up the emotional stakes with each turn of the multi layered plot. My favorite part of this story is the interplay between Cara's daughter Lori and Ephriam. The dialogue is touching and funny as Woodsmall slowly builds the trust between these two charachters. Just beautiful!
As with many Amish Inspirational romance novels, the setting plays a major role in the book. Descriptions of the peaceful country side, a farmers life as well as a respect for Old Order Amish customs help the plot come alive. The conflict between the "modern way" of living and the simple Amish life is a major part of Cara's character arc. Having recently visited Lancaster, PA I can tell you that the author is spot on with her descriptions.
Amish romances intrigue me. Some of them can be saccharin sweet with plots fit for a third grader. However in recent years they have gotten much better with more in-depth plots and multi-layered characters. This recent Wall Street Journal article takes a look this current trend in publishing. If your looking for a sweet romance give author Cindy Woodsmall or Beverly Lewis a try and let me know how you like them.
***As per the new rules for reviewing materials on-line, I am obliged to tell you that I purchased this book on my own. All thoughts expressed here are my own unless otherwise noted.***
Labels: fiction, Mary's Book Basket