A Stranger's Gift [NOOK Book]

Overview

You’ll be swept away by the endearing characters created by award-winning author Anna Schmidt. On the heels of a horrific hurricane, Hester Detlef, field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service, blows into the life of self-made, shunned Amish man John Hafner. Will she find a way through his shield and into his heart? Although the hurricane has left John homeless and badly injured, the last thing he wants is some do-gooder Mennonite woman intruding in his life. Will his impatience with her intention of ...

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A Stranger's Gift

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Overview

You’ll be swept away by the endearing characters created by award-winning author Anna Schmidt. On the heels of a horrific hurricane, Hester Detlef, field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service, blows into the life of self-made, shunned Amish man John Hafner. Will she find a way through his shield and into his heart? Although the hurricane has left John homeless and badly injured, the last thing he wants is some do-gooder Mennonite woman intruding in his life. Will his impatience with her intention of restoring his faith and property keep him from accepting this beguiling stranger’s kindness?

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Editorial Reviews

CBA Retailing - Nancy Kanafani

Amish fiction fans will be swept away by Schmidt's captivating story of love, the importance of dealing with grief and caring for others, and how God can help and guide even in the midst of life's storms.
USA Today's Happy Ever After Blog - Serena Chase

As a lover of contemporary rom-coms I don't often reach for books that straddle the fence of time, sticking buggies and horses next to modern convenience. Yes, I'm speaking of that great-selling, over-published subgenre of the inspirational market known as: Amish fiction.

I'm not (usually) a fan.

The new series by award-winning author Anna Schmidt, however, doesn't fall into the tidy Lancaster County box we've come to expect from cardboard-cutout Amish romances. In A Stranger's Gift, Book 1 in The Women of Pinecraft series, Schmidt has broken new ground by creating intelligent, original characters and setting her novel in Sarasota, Fla., within the Conservative Mennonite and Amish community of Pinecraft (yes, it is a real place!).

Plain folk on the beach? I did not see that coming.

RT Book Reviews - Patsy Glans

A New series about Mennonite and Amish cultures with memorable characters who just want to help people. Schmidt is a wonderful storyteller. She invites readers into a world few outsides get the chance to experience.
Splashes of Joy - Joy Hannabass

This is an awesome Amish story with many unique twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seats and keep the pages turning until the very end. The characters were well created and developed and easily grow on you.
 
I found this a wonderful story that I enjoyed very much.  If you are an Amish fiction fan, I highly recommend this wonderful book for your to read and enjoy.
Good Reads

I enjoyed this book for several reasons.  It was well-written, of course, but I found it especially refreshing to see that these people were human—with faults that they actually realized and were working to correct—rather than idealized romantic leads.  I also found it very interesting to learn about the MDS and the work that they volunteer to do after any disaster, as well as all of the work that is required for clean-up after a hurricane and flooding before people may return to their homes.  As a native Ohioan, I have only seen these things on television, and we all know that, after a week or so, most of the press coverage wanes—but the problems don’t.  MDS stays—even after the Red Cross and other relief agencies leave—until the work is done. 

— Rachael Hartman

Fresh Fiction

A STRANGER'S GIFT is a moving story about letting go of the past hurts in your life, learning that you can't change the past and making a plan for the future. There are many other warm and endearing stories and characters within this story. Anna Schmidt has given us a real treat with this inspirational romantic novel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

— Viki Ferrell

CBA Retailing

Amish fiction fans will be swept away by Schmidt's captivating story of love, the importance of dealing with grief and caring for others, and how God can help and guide even in the midst of life's storms.

— Nancy Kanafani

USA Today

As a lover of contemporary rom-coms I don''t often reach for books that straddle the fence of time, sticking buggies and horses next to modern convenience. Yes, I''m speaking of that great-selling, over-published subgenre of the inspirational market known as: Amish fiction.

I''m not (usually) a fan.

The new series by award-winning author Anna Schmidt, however, doesn''t fall into the tidy Lancaster County box we''ve come to expect from cardboard-cutout Amish romances. In A Stranger''s Gift, Book 1 in The Women of Pinecraft series, Schmidt has broken new ground by creating intelligent, original characters and setting her novel in Sarasota, Fla., within the Conservative Mennonite and Amish community of Pinecraft (yes, it is a real place!).

Plain folk on the beach? I did not see that coming.

— Serena Chase

RT Book Reviews

A New series about Mennonite and Amish cultures with memorable characters who just want to help people. Schmidt is a wonderful storyteller. She invites readers into a world few outsides get the chance to experience.

— Patsy Glans

USA Today's Happy Ever After Blog

As a lover of contemporary rom-coms I don't often reach for books that straddle the fence of time, sticking buggies and horses next to modern convenience. Yes, I'm speaking of that great-selling, over-published subgenre of the inspirational market known as: Amish fiction.

I'm not (usually) a fan.

The new series by award-winning author Anna Schmidt, however, doesn't fall into the tidy Lancaster County box we've come to expect from cardboard-cutout Amish romances. In A Stranger's Gift, Book 1 in The Women of Pinecraft series, Schmidt has broken new ground by creating intelligent, original characters and setting her novel in Sarasota, Fla., within the Conservative Mennonite and Amish community of Pinecraft (yes, it is a real place!).

Plain folk on the beach? I did not see that coming.

— Serena Chase

Splashes of Joy

This is an awesome Amish story with many unique twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seats and keep the pages turning until the very end. The characters were well created and developed and easily grow on you.

 

I found this a wonderful story that I enjoyed very much.  If you are an Amish fiction fan, I highly recommend this wonderful book for your to read and enjoy.

— Joy Hannabass

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607425625
  • Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Series: Women of Pinecraft, #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 65,516
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Anna Schmidt is the author of over twenty works of fiction. Among her many honors, Anna is the recipient of Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the RITA award for romantic fiction. She enjoys gardening and collecting seashells at her winter home in Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

A Stranger's Gift

The Women of Pinecraft


By Anna Schmidt

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Anna Schmidt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-562-5


CHAPTER 1

Wisps of Hester Detlef's ebony hair escaped her stiff mesh prayer covering, tickling her face as she unloaded boxes of canned goods from the back of a van. In the Mennonite and Amish community of Pinecraft, within the greater borders of Sarasota, several women had formed a kind of bucket line to pass the boxes to other women waiting at a line of tables set end to end along the protected walkway of the shopping mall. The increasingly strong wind whipped at the ankle-length skirts the women wore, reminding them that in spite of the blue skies, a hurricane lurked just a few miles offshore. Hester had just received news that the entire Gulf Coast, from Fort Myers north to Tampa–St. Petersburg, was under a hurricane watch—meaning that within the next thirty-six hours, it was entirely possible that the storm could move into their area. But with the predicted storm stalled several miles offshore, things could go either way. The hurricane might simply have paused to gather strength before moving east. Or it could weaken to a tropical storm that would bring heavy rains and some wind but nothing like the devastation that a category three or four hurricane might deliver.

"Hester? Shouldn't you let someone else handle this and see to more pressing matters?" Olive Crowder was a large-boned woman of indeterminate age with a permanent expression of disapproval etched into her face. She had never married, and her constant companion was her younger sister, Agnes, a gentle soul who seemed immune to Olive's generally sour demeanor. The sisters were dedicated members of the conservative Mennonite congregation where Hester's father, Arlen, served as senior minister. While women did not usually assume roles of appointed or elected leadership in their church, Olive came as close as any woman ever could to having declared herself an elder of the congregation—the gatekeeper for all things traditional.

Often when Hester was in grade school and other girls were busy learning homemaking skills, she had tested her teachers with her questions about why certain things happened the way they did.

"But why?" she would ask when the answer she got was dismissive or unsatisfactory.

It was that insatiable curiosity coupled with her stubborn determination to explore as much of God's world as possible that made her stand out in a community where sameness was not only preferred but also expected. It was that same insatiable curiosity that had brought her under the microscope of Olive Crowder's concern.

"Getting these food goods sorted and packed is a priority right now, Olive," Hester said, forcing herself to smile.

"Well, you know best, I suppose. After all, you are the lead volunteer for MCC in this area."

The Mennonite Central Committee—or MCC—was a national organization dedicated to offering disaster relief, community development, and international aid with no concern for whether or not those who received that aid were Mennonite. The mission of the organization was to build a worldwide community of people connected by their love and respect for God, each other, and all of God's creation. Following her mother's death, Hester had put her career as a registered nurse on hold indefinitely and volunteered to manage the agency's work in and around Pinecraft.

"After all," Olive continued, "Emma has gone straight to the shelters to oversee the work there."

Emma Keller had once been Hester's closest friend, but the two of them had grown apart after Hester decided to attend nursing school in Illinois. Emma now held the position of local leader of the more conservative Christian Aid Ministries. CAM was the agency that Olive—not to mention several other members of Arlen Detlef's congregation—had suggested might be a more appropriate venue from which a conservative minister's daughter might pursue her desire to serve.

"I understand your concern, Olive, and believe me, I would really love to be able to be in more than one place at the same time. So I am truly grateful that Emma and others have taken on other projects like preparing the shelters." Hester turned back to her work. "With everyone doing their part, we should have things pretty well covered."

Olive stood rooted to her spot in the line of volunteers scowling down at Hester until Hester noticed that others were beginning to wonder what was going on. "Besides, Emma and I will both be attending the volunteer organizational meeting at command central later this morning, so I'll be sure to check in with her then. In the meantime, if you wouldn't mind ..." She handed a box of canned goods to Olive and nodded toward the woman waiting to receive them and pass them on. Olive's lips thinned into a sharp straight line. "Just because you see this as your little hurricane, Hester, it would behoove—"

"My little hurricane?"

"Ja. Hurricane Hester," Olive replied and then turned back to her work.

Certainly Hester could see the irony of a hurricane with her name. Even before she'd learned that this season's eighth hurricane was to bear her name, others had compared her can-do personality to the massive fury of a hurricane. She certainly did not aspire to be linked to something so destructive, but she had to admit that once she latched on to a cause that she believed in, there was no stopping her.

As soon as the van was unloaded and the women began filling smaller cartons with a selection of canned goods, Hester retrieved her bicycle from behind the distribution center. Promising to return as soon as possible, she pedaled off toward downtown Sarasota. At the corner of Highway 41 and Bahia Vista, she waited for the light to change, tapping one foot on the ground as she balanced her bike. Her foot tapping was not an indication of impatience. She was simply filled with energy, ready to face whatever Mother Nature might bring in the hours and days ahead. Hester Detlef was like a warrior prepared to go into combat.

She couldn't help but smile at that thought. Her Mennonite faith had taught her to be peace loving and to avoid conflict, but there was indeed a battle coming in the form of a hurricane that bore her name. The only question was where the storm would focus the brunt of its attack.

Hester had lived her entire life in this area, and she knew that the city of Sarasota with Pinecraft in its midst was an unlikely target. Protected by a line of barrier islands, the mainland rarely suffered a direct hit. Most hurricanes weakened over land so that by the time the storm passed over the islands and reached the mainland, it would likely be demoted to a tropical storm. And because the Amish/Mennonite community lay another five miles inland, it was even less likely that her friends and neighbors would suffer direct damage. But Pinecraft's position on Philippi Creek always carried the threat of flooding. If the hurricane hit shore from a certain direction, it could push waters inland, and she and her neighbors living along the creek would be forced to move to shelters. Whatever the storm's path, it was due to make its move within the next thirty-six hours.

The light changed, and she pedaled on. Down Bahia Vista to Orange Avenue, past the beautiful Selby Botanical Gardens and around the curve where the road ran parallel to the bay. How she loved this part of the city. As a girl, when her friends were busy tending kitchen gardens or joining their mothers for quilting bees, Hester would slip away to wade in the calm clear waters of the bay.

She never tired of observing the wonders of sea life she saw there—jellyfish and sea anemones that looked like transparent floating flowers and the occasional and rare live horse conch, its outer shell black and almost indistinguishable from the beds of oyster shells that at low tide clacked like castanets. Sometimes as she waded through ankle-deep clear water, she would spot a flash of orange as vivid as the skin of a tangerine and would carefully turn the blackened conch shell over to reveal the strikingly colorful animal coiled inside. To this day, seeing a seashell that still housed a crab or sea animal made her smile and, as the old adage stated, was all the assurance she needed that God was in His heaven and all was right with the world. But she had no time for wading this day. She was already late for her meeting.


* * *

John Steiner leaned in closer to the battery-powered radio on the kitchen counter as it crackled and wheezed out the latest weather update. "... Hurricane watch ... Prepare for evacuation of barrier islands and bay-front homes and businesses...."

Reports from early that morning had the hurricane stalled offshore and unlikely to make landfall for another day or so. He had time. Time to board up the last of the windows. Time to double-check his emergency supplies. Time to cage the chickens and get them to safety. He would ride out the storm right here on the property into which he had sunk two years of his life and most of his money renovating.

He ignored the warnings to move to higher ground. He wasn't going anywhere. Since he'd moved to Florida, there had been other orders to evacuate, and they had all come to nothing. On one such occasion shortly after he'd moved in, John had complied only to find himself crowded into some shelter with hundreds of others. For his trouble, he had spent a miserable night among crying babies, unruly children allowed to roam free, and adults who did nothing but complain. He would not leave again.

After nailing a piece of plywood over the last of the windows, he walked down to his pier and closed his eyes as the hot August wind buffeted his shirt and ruffled the red-blond hair on his forearms. It might have been any Florida summer day—hot, gusty winds from the west, humidity so thick it was like being draped in a towel soaked in hot bathwater, and a blinding sun set high in a relentlessly blue sky. It was hard to believe that in just a matter of hours this could all change to blackness and pounding waves and water walls that could topple trees and power lines, rip off roofs, and set mobile homes as well as cars and trucks afloat or flying through the air.

John was surprised that what he was feeling wasn't apprehension but rather anticipation. He was excited. He opened his eyes and saw his neighbor Margery Barker puttering his way in her small fishing boat.

"Came to see if you're ready," she called, throwing him the rope to tie her boat up at his pier.

The woman had a voice like a foghorn and the leathered skin of a native Floridian. She ran a fishing charter business about a quarter mile up Philippi Creek around the point from John's place on Little Sarasota Bay. She'd taken it over from her husband after his death thirteen years earlier, and she'd been the first person John had met when he came to Florida. Without the slightest encouragement from John, she had designated herself his surrogate mother from that day to this. She meant well, but like him, she could be stubborn and refused to back down from her zealous campaign to get him involved in "community," as she liked to call it.

"All secured," John replied, catching his end of the rope and looping it around a post. He jerked his head toward the house, its windows now shuttered with plywood.

Margery had scrambled out of the boat and was standing on the pier surveying his house and the old packinghouse, her hands on her hips. "Looks good," she said. "Where you gonna ride this thing out?"

Her question annoyed John. The two of them had discussed this when the hurricane had first started to form. "Here," he replied with a wave toward the house.

Margery hooted. "Are you nuts or just plain naive?"

Neither, John wanted to snap, but instead he bit his lip and glanced out across the bay to the inland shore of Siesta Key. He had learned quickly enough that it did no good to argue with Margery.

"I guess that it's unlikely you'll take a direct hit," she reasoned, more to herself than to him. "And I suppose if you've never been in one of these things, you can't help but wonder what it'll be like."

"I've been here through two hurricane seasons, Margery. That first year I even left for the shelter. I am not leaving again."

She frowned and then turned back to her boat and knelt down to retrieve two large containers of water. "I figured as much, so I brought you some extra supplies."

"I've got five jugs of drinking water," John protested.

"Well, you might just want to wash up a bit." She sniffed the air around him. "Truth be told, you could do with a shower now."

"I've been working," he protested, resisting the urge to tell her she didn't smell like lavender water herself.

Margery sighed. "You are a serious one, aren't you, Johnny? After this storm blows through, we are going to have to find some way to get you to loosen up, son." She shook her head as if he were a lost cause and climbed back into her boat and unleashed it from the post. "I baked you some of those chocolate chip cookies you seem to like." She tossed him a cookie tin and eased her boat away from his pier. "Stay high and dry," she called as she rounded the point.

John used the stubs of his fingernails to pry open the tin box and took out one cookie. He bit into it, savoring the taste—and with it the childhood memory of his mother's baking. He hadn't thought to ask where Margery planned to stay during the hurricane. The houseboat where she lived would not be much protection against the winds, and her bait shack was no sturdier than a beach shack. She'd probably head for one of the shelters. He suddenly felt guilty that she had wasted precious time coming to check on him. He stepped farther out onto the pier and shouted her name. "Be safe," he yelled.

Margery just waved and kept going.


* * *

Hester arrived fifteen minutes late for the meeting. This was the county's effort to coordinate response activities for all emergency response volunteer leaders from across the entire Sarasota County area. She was there to represent the two largest Mennonite organizations—the Mennonite Central Committee or MCC, for which she was the local representative, and the Mennonite Disaster Service, better known in the community as MDS. Her father was the local director of that agency, and with the hurricane predicted to scythe a wide swath across the Gulf Coast of Florida, both agencies would have their work cut out for them in the days following the storm. Emma would represent CAM, the third arm of a trio of Mennonite agencies.

She parked her bike in a rack and mentally rehearsed the report she was prepared to give. MCC was ready to supply food, water, and shelter for those hundreds of volunteers sure to come once the storm passed over, not to mention those poor souls who might be directly affected by the storm. She had a mobile clinic ready to go into action as a backup to the one the Red Cross was already setting up. There were three large shelters in and around Pinecraft outfitted with cots and generators and other necessities to care for those who had no place to go. Along with MDS teams, her volunteers were fully prepared to go into action helping victims of the storm recover and rebuild in the weeks and months ahead should the storm be as disastrous as was predicted. She stepped into the small foyer of the county's administrative building and took a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the change from the blistering late-August sun to the cooler shadows inside, then followed the sound of voices down the hall.

But when she opened the door, prepared to make her apologies as she took her place at the long table at the front of the room, she stopped. Emma Keller stood at the lectern delivering the report for all three Mennonite agencies. Hester squeezed her eyes closed and silently prayed for God to take away the pang of jealousy she felt toward the woman. After all, she and Emma were working toward the same goal. What was the matter with her? Emma was not her competition. There had been a time when they had been the best of friends. But God must have been busy elsewhere, for when she opened her eyes, she still felt a prickle of rivalry as she listened to Emma deliver her report. Hester slipped into a vacant seat at the back of the room and waited her turn to fill in anything Emma might have left out—a scenario so unlikely as to be laughable, knowing how thorough Emma was in tackling any project.

Reports from other local volunteer groups followed, and then the professional hurricane experts and meteorologists got up to give their reports. Hester shook off her jealousy and focused on taking notes to share with her father and other volunteers. Emma slid into the seat next to her.

"Es tut mir leid," she apologized, her voice a whisper. "They called for the report from Pinecraft first thing."

"Ich verstehe," Hester murmured and glanced at Emma, who was looking at her with genuine concern. "Really, it's fine," Hester assured her and grasped Emma's hand.

Emma's smile was radiant with relief. Hester had to ask herself if she had become so territorial when it came to where her volunteer efforts and Emma's overlapped that her good friend felt she had to tiptoe around Hester's feelings.

"Kaffee?" Hester whispered conspiratorially in an attempt to break the tension that stretched between them.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Stranger's Gift by Anna Schmidt. Copyright © 2011 Anna Schmidt. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    GREAT READ

    I hesitated when trying to decide whether to read this book. An Amish series set in Florida? But am so glad I made the decision to go for.it. One of the.things I enjoy most, other than an authors ability to.make you truly care about the characters, is learning something new about Amish culture.

    Anna Schmidt did it all. I connected with the characters, her descriptions of the tornado's aftermath made me feel as if I were there. I hate reading reviews that tell me the whole story. So.much that I no longer need to read the book. For that reason I won't spoil it for.you! Purchase & read. O promise you won't be dissappointed.

    Within the first few chapters Anna drew me into the volunteer organizations she was writing about. So much so that I have already.signed up on two.of the websites, MCC & MDS, to receive their.monthly news letters. While I can.not do volunteer work, I.hope to donate not only.money but possibly enough furniture & other household items to furnish a few homes for people trying to.rebuild their lives.

    My parents died recently, within 15 months of each other. I was left to pack.up over 50 yrs of memories. Everything was put in rented storage spaces. While I have been trying to find organizations who would welcome not only slightly used items but also new clothes, new shoes. As well as furniture that were in unused guest rooms.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 1, 2012

    Good positive story

    A Stranger's Gift by Anna Schmidt
    5 STARS
    It makes me want to go help more or at least get out and make a goal again to make at least 52 hats this year for those in need. I enjoyed reading this book to start the new year.
    John Steiner has spent the last two years since he moved to Florida fixing up the old house,orchards,gardens and packing warehouse. He wants to be alone and self sustaining on his land. He is Amish but left his church and state when they shunned him.
    Two different people came and told him he need to ride out the hurricane in a shelter. John refused he went to a shelter the last time and it was crowded and he didn't have to go.
    Hester Detweiler is in charge of one of the Mennonite charities that help in times of diaster. Because John's Aunt's is a Senator she was asked to go warn him. Hester resented having to go warn him and than he refused to go. She felt their were others who needed her help more.
    Margery Barker is a widow that lives and runs a fishing charters close to John
    and trying for the past two years to friend him. She was the first to try and get him into a shelter.
    Well the hurricane hit his place hard. The river was coming into his house fast as he was gathering stuff to take upstairs with him the roof and a wall crashed in on him. He was lucky to have survived holding onto a beam. all of his trees the old and the new ones destroyed. Could not get to town by road with all the trees down across his road. Chicken coop destroyed, damage to the warehouse. Broke his wrist and had to be airlifted out.
    He had to learn again that he had to accept help and give it. Forgive himself for his mother's death and realize that he can trust others again.
    It is a Christian story of helping others,relying on prayer and scriptures. That
    positive things can come out of our trials. I would read gladly more books from Anna. I was given this ebook to read in exchange of honest review from Netgalley.
    11/01/2011 PUB Barbour Publishing, Inc.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND

    Love this book. Anna Schmidt is a wonderful writer. She really brings the book alive.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    This is good

    I was hesitant to read this considering that i'm not a religious person, but i'm glad i did. Besides being well written, I would recommend this to anyone who would appreciate a different perspective, and possibly some relief from the doldrums of the average american lifestyle

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2011

    I highly recommend...

    Reviewed by Lynn F. for Readers Favorite

    A Stranger's Gift by Anna Schmidt is a novel about two different individuals: Hester Detlef, a Mennonite woman and John Hafner, a shunned Amish man. Hester, the daughter of a Mennonite minister, is a registered nurse and head of the Mennonite Disaster Service. That she is well past the age of what one figures a woman should be married does not bother Hester. She enjoys what she does, and if the right man comes along, then so be it. John, leaving the Amish way in Ohio, moved to Florida, bought his own place and will show that he can live a solitary and self sufficient life...that is, until two storms race into his life: the category 4 hurricane named Hester and a Mennonite woman named Hester, who seemed like the hurricane herself. Ignoring her pleas for him to leave, John not only loses almost all he has but also sustains injuries. As Hester keeps intruding into his life, will John restore his faith not only in his religion but once again in people and especially this stranger called Hester? With both of them feeling guilty over a past, can they let go and find a future?

    This is the first book in the author's Women of Pinecraft Series and a very good start. I found the novel to be very well written. The author portrayed the characters as normal people, and not perfect. They had their faults, jealousy, egos and more, but they worked to overcome them instead of shrugging them off. As I read, I found the characters were very easy to become involved with and felt like I was right there in the midst of the cleanup after the hurricane, as they all worked together to help each other get back into their homes. There was no one who was any different regarding race or religion, rich or poor, fancy home or homeless that did not work together to help each other. That¿s the way it should be after any disaster. I feel this is a great start to a wonderful series that takes place in Pinecraft, Florida. It's a wonderful Christian novel with a very enlightened message,¿ Love your neighbor as yourself,¿ and I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hester's Hurricane

    A Stranger's Gift by Anna Schmidt Book 1 ¿ The Women of Pinecraft John Steiner was a loner. He had left his Amish community in Indiana after his mother's death and bought property in Florida. As Hurricane Hester is building up in the area a few people try to get John to leave but he refuses to go to a shelter and leave the home he has spent so much time and money fixing up. After the hurricane hits and his property is in dire need of help, he refuses the Mennonite disaster crews and anyone else who offers help. The young woman who tried to get him to leave before the hurricane and has returned once again is rightly named Hester. She seems as strong and stubborn as the same named hurricane. John has changed his clothing style but otherwise he has stayed with his Amish upbringing. And yet he feels unbalanced and unsure where he truly belongs. He had started this journey a few years back after reading Walden: Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau. A story of a man who goes away from civilization as well. Hester Detweiler is busy doing for everyone she can. As she helps run the disaster group her father started and working with others in the County. She went to a non-church school to become a nurse and some in her community feel that the Pastor's daughter works too much with the outside world. To Hester it is helping people. She has trouble containing her anger when she has to ¿babysit¿ a stubborn man who did not leave his home and now needs help as he recovers, just because his aunt is a Congresswoman! John does not want help or appreciate it and yet she is forced to help him. She also has Samuel, a man who came from Pennsylvania and works building furniture with her father. She knows the intention was for the two of them to marry but she does not feel romantic towards him. These two characters seem to lose all their peaceful heritage traits when they are anywhere in the same vicinity. At one point John does see the need to start helping those who stuck with him and helped him, he sees how selfish he has been. There are many unique characters such as Margery Barker- she runs boat charters and treats John as a son, Zeke who is homeless but from a wealthy family, the local crabby lady Olive Crowder who is always negative to Hester. This book also gave a view of all the workings before and after a hurricane and the different disaster organizations. **Book received through NetGalley for review.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Anonymous

    I didn't want to put this book down . It was so good. I will be reading more books by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    Sweet

    The characters were believable and the overall story was really sweet. I fully enjoyed reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    enjoyable read.

    enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    A Good Romance

    A good read that I would have been willing to pay for, but especially good for free. A nice clean romance that shows characters struggling with Mother Nature, their past choices and tragedies, and their community and religious values. It also introduced me to aspects of the Mennonite faith and traditions that were new to me. I would read another book in this series or by this author.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    I liked this book so much, I bought her next book right away.

    I am an avid reader, and on average read one book every week. I have completed many series already so am always on the lookout for a new author. I am very happy to be able to recommend Anna Schmidt as a very talented writer whose strong story lines and clear descriptions along with thought provoking interactions between the members of the families and their communities kept me page turning riveted. I treasure the way that one's faith is shown to be a common thread and a strength, sometimes not fully comprehended, then seen again as the blessing it is. I just loved this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2014

    Great writer

    Loved the book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    Betsy

    I so loved and enjoyed this book. A very good read for anyone who loves to read amish books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Very enjoyable book

    The characters were believable and likable, not something I can say about every book.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Good reading

    Enjoyed this book very much.

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