Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender Book #1)

Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender Book #1)

4.5 312
by Dale Cramer

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An Amish settlement in Ohio has run afoul of a law requiring their children to attend public school. Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested for neglect, with the state ordering the children be placed in an institution. Among them are Caleb's teenage daughter, Rachel, and the boy she has her eye on, Jake Weaver. Romance blooms between the two when Rachel helps…  See more details below


An Amish settlement in Ohio has run afoul of a law requiring their children to attend public school. Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested for neglect, with the state ordering the children be placed in an institution. Among them are Caleb's teenage daughter, Rachel, and the boy she has her eye on, Jake Weaver. Romance blooms between the two when Rachel helps Jake escape the children's home.

Searching for a place to relocate his family where no such laws apply, Caleb learns there's inexpensive land for sale in Mexico, a place called Paradise Valley. Despite rumors of instability in the wake of the Mexican revolution, the Amish community decides this is their answer. And since it was Caleb's idea, he and his family will be the pioneers. They will send for the others once he's established a foothold and assessed the situation.

Caleb's daughters are thrown into turmoil. Rachel doesn't want to leave Jake. Her sister, Emma, who has been courting Levi Mullet, fears her dreams of marriage will be dashed. Miriam has never had a beau and is acutely aware there will be no prospects in Mexico.

Once there, they meet Domingo, a young man and guide who takes a liking to Miriam, something her father would never approve. While Paradise Valley is everything they'd hoped it would be, it isn't long before the bandits start giving them trouble, threatening to upset the fledgling Amish settlement, even putting their lives in danger. Thankfully no one has been harmed so far, anyway.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested when it is discovered that their Amish children are not attending public school as required by Ohio state law, Caleb volunteers to move his family and establish an Amish settlement in postrevolutionary Mexico. VERDICT This historical series launch will appeal to fans of Beverly Lewis and Cindy Woodsmall for its homespun tone and uplifting story line.

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Baker Publishing Group
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Daughters of Caleb Bender , #1
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Paradise Valley

Daughters of Caleb Bender #1
By Dale Cramer

Bethany House Publishers

Copyright © 2011 Dale Cramer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7642-0838-6

Chapter One

In January of 1922 the Salt Creek Township in eastern Ohio was a pastoral haven of rolling hills and curving country lanes lined with horse fences and dotted here and there with the spartan farmhouses of the Amish. Perched near the road in a little bend above a creek valley sat the home of Caleb Bender, a plain white two-story saltbox with a tin roof. Across the gravel drive to the right of the house lay a long, low five-bay buggy shed, and rising from the knoll behind the house a massive T-shaped barn with a tall grain silo attached to one corner. Though nothing about the farm was ostentatious in any way, the whole of it—from the sleek, fat livestock to the neatly trimmed front lawn and flower beds, to the freshly whitewashed board fence around the yard—spoke of order and loving attention to detail.

By sunrise young Rachel Bender and her older sister Emma had already milked the cows and fed the chickens. There were no eggs, for they had been gathered the evening before to keep them from freezing in the night.

The heavy frost turned barbed wire into guitar strings. Rachel's breath came out in clouds, and brittle grass crunched underfoot as she followed her sister up to the silo after breakfast to throw down fresh silage. The patch of cow-churned mud in the barn lot had frozen solid during the night, and now her toes burned and threatened to go numb, even in boots.

Normally, this would be a boy's job, but in the Bender family there weren't enough boys to go around, so the girls grabbed pitchforks and bent their backs to the task. Rachel could handle a pitchfork well enough, though ten minutes of throwing down silage still made her puff a little. Warmed by the effort, she paused for a second to unbutton the neck of her heavy coat.

Emma kept working, humming an old tune, not even breathing hard. Strong, that one was. Neatly parted light brown hair peeked out the front of the black wool scarf covering her head, tied tightly under her chin.

"Are you and Levi going to be married?" Rachel asked, out of the blue. Approaching sixteen, she would soon be old enough to date, so lately she had spent a great deal of time thinking about boys. Levi Mullet had been courting her older sister for almost two years, but so far there were no wedding rumors. At twenty, it was getting late for Emma. Amish girls were always secretive about wedding plans—it was a tradition—so if Levi and Emma were indeed thinking of getting married, it would not be announced until a month before the wedding. Rachel wanted in on the secret now—if there was one.

Emma stopped and leaned on her pitchfork, grinning at her younger sister's bold intrusion.

She sniffed. "Well, we could be. But don't you think that would be up to Levi?"

"Jah, I suppose, but I'd think you'd know his mind by now. Wouldn't you?"

Emma smiled and averted her eyes, a clear hint. "I do, and it's a good mind. He's a fine man. I'd be proud to be his wife—he already knows that. But he's also a practical man, and he wants to be sure he can support a family. Anyway, there's plenty of time. It's only the first week of the new year, child, and marrying season isn't until after harvest in the fall."

Rachel knew her sister well, and the merry glint in Emma's bright blue eyes told her all she wanted to know. Obviously, Emma and Levi had already discussed these things privately, but it was not yet a matter for everyone else's ears. The things Emma hadn't said brought a bold grin to Rachel's face, her suspicions confirmed.

Emma wagged a finger at her. "Now, don't you go spreading rumors to all your friends, girl. I'll thank you to control your gossipy tongue." But she was smiling as she said it.

That was when they heard the engine.

They froze, listening. Rachel couldn't see, for there were no windows in the silo, but she could hear what was happening. The automobile coughed twice as the high-pitched clattering slowed to a warbling rumble, and she heard the faint but unmistakable crunch of gravel as rubber tires turned up into the Bender driveway.

She seldom saw an automobile out here in the heart of Amish country, though they had become common in town. Only rarely did a car pass by on the road in front of the house, and none of them had ever turned into their driveway before. Dat would not like this. To him, these motorcars were the work of the devil—noisy and smelly and ignorant. Even a stupid horse could be made to see reason, but not so a machine. "Good horses make more good horses, and they eat hay. The land feeds the horse, and the horse feeds the land," Caleb Bender was fond of saying. "Gott made it so." The automobile, Dat said, was just another assault on the family—like most modern contrivances, a wedge to drive them apart from each other and from the land.

Emma leaned her pitchfork against the wall. "What on earth could that be about?"

The noise stopped abruptly, the automobile's motor clanking and grinding to a halt. Emma backed through the hatch, scrambled down the ladder and ran to the barn door with Rachel close behind. Rachel bumped into her when she pulled up suddenly at the edge of the door.


Excerpted from Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer Copyright © 2011 by Dale Cramer. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Paradise Valley 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 312 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was raised in Amish community. This story although fiction, was interesting and very well told
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am new to this author, and really enjoyed this book. I have read book 2, and can't wait for book 3 to find out what happens next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not Amish but this was a very heart felt story and it keeps your eyes plastered on the screen til' the book is over. I wish the other books were free. Ages 15+.
270 More than 1 year ago
I've always been fascinated with the Amish. This was based on factual happenings back in the '30's when some Amish had to relocate to Mexico in order to practice their religious beliefs. I love to read historical novels.
LovenGod More than 1 year ago
Caleb Bender was in jail. Not only was Caleb in jail, so were four other Amish fathers. It was 1921 and Ohio officials were trying to force the Amish communities to send their children to public schools. And arresting these five fathers was sending a strong message to the Amish. Caleb Bender is determined that something has to change. His wife is already in bad health, in fact the doctor has said she needs a dry climate, so when Caleb sees a ad for land for sale in Mexico, he knows that Gott is leading him. Moving his entire family to Mexico, Caleb is taking a huge step. The unknown is scary, and after arriving in Mexico and realizing that there was real danger from bandits, Caleb is unsure if the other Amish families will come to Mexico. This book was again unlike any Amish book I have read, I am loving how the authors are reaching beyond the traditional Amish story and making the new Amish series more exciting and interesting! Great book with a theme of grace and mercy, you will not want to miss this story. Even more I love that this story is factual, based on the author's grandfather's life. 359 pages US $14.99 4 stars This book was provided by Bethany House for review purposes, no payment was received for this review.
LeAnneH More than 1 year ago
My husband was strongly influenced by the Anabaptists in his teen years. My father was raised Quaker. Nevertheless, I have avoided the popular Amish trend in Christian fiction as a nostalgic desire to return to a simpler time and avoid dealing with modern reality. Dale Cramer's Paradise Valley is not that. A 1921 Ohio law required Amish families to send their children to public schools where they must cut their hair and dress in "Englisher" clothing--a plan which would effectively wipe out the Amish community in a generation. The arguments in this part of the book sounded disturbingly like modern discussions of home schooling vs. `godless humanistic classrooms'. Caleb Bender's response to government pressure was to lead a group moving their families to Paradise Valley in Mexico. Dale Cramer's great grandfather was the patriarch of a similar community, and although few records survive of that experiment, he obviously identifies strongly with their faith, ideals and struggles. Yet Cramer wrestles with real issues in a post-9/11 world. Can violence be realistically resisted with non-violence? Post-revolution Mexico is rife with decommissioned soldiers turned bandits. The old world where Spanish blood ruled, and Mexico's original inhabitants were despised has been turned on its head. The Amish win friends by treating all their neighbors with respect and integrity, but their non-violence makes them vulnerable. And can they sustain it when those they love are threatened? The story is not primarily romance although there are romantic plots lines--several, in fact, since Caleb Bender has several daughters. Some are satisfied in this first installment of The Daughters of Caleb Bender series; some are left in question. But your heart will be drawn to each of these strong young women.
MomoftwoDM More than 1 year ago
It was a really new - unexpected twist- to the normal Amish stories. Couldn't put it down, and the next one was great too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are not enough stars to give this book its proper rating.I cant wait wait to read more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this before, a few years back.... but I loved it then...and still do after reading it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. Great story line
cm43 More than 1 year ago
Good story, relaxing read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed learning about the trials of the Amish. I don't like history, but I love historical novels. I also appreciate the Christian perspective. I am looking forward to reading the second book in this series.
ndreaderCB More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting to read and gave me insight into the Amish way of life. I would read more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed the story and the writing style. Will read the next book in this series. Enjoyed the detail in their every-day life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very different than most books that I read, and I enjoyed it very much. Though it is a work of fiction, it is based on real events. It is a bit predictable. I will be reading more by this author. The story was a welcome vacation from my usual choice of reading material.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't think I would enjoy an Amish story, but the characters grabbed hold of my heartstrings. Found myself rooting for them and for true love.
vmd More than 1 year ago
Ordered a copy to send to a missionary friend in the area discussed in the book.
baldknobroyalty More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! Especially that it was based on historical facts and that those facts were correctly identified. I'll definitely read this authors works again.
CherishD More than 1 year ago
Very much enjoyed this book...I didn't feel like it ended abruptly, I thought the characters were well-developed and full of life, loved the faith and deep sense of honor.  Looking forward to the next book in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it-wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like stories about the Amish you will enjoy this book. It was easy, fast moving and very well written.
cwgeorge More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good family story becomes even more interesting when you learn it's based ona true story of Amish migration from Ohio to Mexico.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great story of an Amish family fighting for their God given rights and starting over in a strange land. The author really captures you with the story of love, tragedy and adventure. This book would be enjoyed by people of all ages. Well written. I look forward to reading the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good reading cant wait for next book.