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A Season of Change
Seasons in Pinecraft Series, Book 1
By Lynette Sowell
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2014 Lynette Sowell
All rights reserved.
We're having ice cream at Christmas time, Daed?" Zeke Miller trotted alongside his father on the pavement, trying to keep up with Jacob's pace. The boy would definitely sleep well tonight; he'd barely stopped since he'd gotten off the Pioneer Trails bus and tumbled into the Florida sunshine.
"Yes, we are. It's hard to imagine, isn't it? We're definitely a long way from home." Jacob rubbed the top of his son's head. At only five, Zeke didn't comprehend the idea of ice cream in winter. His sister, Rebecca, a dozen paces ahead of them, pranced alongside her cousins. The sound of the children's giggles drifted on the air.
Jacob slowed his steps to match Zeke's five-year-old stride. Their figures made long shadows as they strode toward Big Olaf's Ice Cream Parlor. The December twilight came early, even in Sarasota.
To Jacob, the words "Christmas" and "ice cream" didn't belong in the same sentence. And he certainly never thought he would be entertaining the children's eager pleas to ride the bus to the beach on Christmas day. But, here they were, nestled in Sarasota's winter haven called Pinecraft.
"We're here, we're here!" Rebecca giggled, and stumbled. "Ach." She stopped long enough to stick her foot back into the pink plastic flip-flops, a gift from her cousin Maybelle.
Jacob shook his head over his daughter wearing the sandals, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth anyway. As soon as they'd all climbed off the immense travel bus and stepped onto the parking lot of Pinecraft's Mennonite Tourist Church, the surroundings seemed to draw them in. The children burst with energy after being stuck on a bus for two days, save for a stop here and there to stretch their legs or pick up more passengers. The more distance between Ohio, the more passengers on the bus.
At first the novelty of riding on a mechanized vehicle had the children enthralled with the speed they traveled and the levers that brought the seats forward and backward, but eventually even Rebecca fidgeted and squirmed in her seat. Bored, as all the children soon became.
Jacob sympathized, but instead of running like a child would, he stared at his surroundings, the rows of homes both large and small, the orange and grapefruit trees in front yards. And the palm trees, of course.
He'd never had the opportunity to visit Florida, even after his grandparents bought a home here in Pinecraft. He hadn't seen the practicality of cramming himself on a bus and traveling hundreds of miles only to do the same two weeks later. Finally, however, desperation had won out over practicality.
He'd only seen photos of palm trees, only heard about members of his Order using tricycles for transportation instead of horse and buggy. No room for horses in a city. His own grandfather rode an adult-size tricycle with a large basket, peddling fruit for sale to tourists.
Zeke's grin lit his face and he pulled his hand from Jacob's grasp, trotted ahead to catch up with his sister and cousins.
Here, hundreds of miles from Ohio's fields and the cabinet factory where Jacob worked, his children laughed like they hadn't in six months. This made him smile, too, though his heart still hurt.
Hannah, gone so soon. When they were younger, they'd exchanged glances across the room on Sundays until he found the nerve to talk to her at a singing. Then they married when he was but twenty-three and she eighteen. They'd both vowed to embrace their Order and planned to be married as long as the Lord allowed. Which had turned out to be a mere eight years.
Hannah's third pregnancy had been much harder than the first two, and even modern technology hadn't saved her when the midwife urged him to allow the Englisch physicians to stabilize her at an Englisch hospital. The boppli, another son they'd named Samuel, had come too early. No one could have warned Jacob how difficult it was to carry a double load of grief. Their days together were finished on this earth, but Jacob found himself asking, Why?
He caught sight of his brother waiting for him at the sidewalk's edge. "The Yoders are arriving on the last bus before Christmas," Ephraim said.
The loaded statement snapped Jacob out of his pondering. A good thing. He was moving on, as he should. But he could still feel the emptiness in his bed every night Hannah wasn't there. Even though Mammi had given him the twin air mattress to sleep on while visiting in Florida, Jacob's memories and the children's chatter in the living room kept him awake at night. In his grandparents' snug home, filled with Millers in every nook and cranny, Jacob's lone state set him apart.
"That's what Daadi said after supper tonight." Jacob knew where Ephraim's small talk was headed, straight to Betsy.
"Betsy Yoder is coming with her parents, too." Ephraim glanced his way. "She told Katie at our last Sunday meeting they'll be here just in time for Christmas."
"It will be nice to see her and her family." Jacob tugged on his suspenders. Not too much farther, and they'd be at the Bahia Vista stoplight. A hint of a chill drifted on the breeze, waving the fronds of a nearby palm tree.
"Nice? Is that all you can say, it'll be 'nice' to see Betsy?"
"She's a nice girl. Smart, pretty, and she bakes really gut pie. She'll make someone a gut wife someday. A little on the tall side, though." Jacob paused, and Ephraim did as well. "Happy now?"
"You need to talk to her, not just hang back in the corner like you're a mute."
"I'm not ready to talk to her. Not yet."
"Don't wait too long. She likes you, and she told Katie so. She's wondering why you keep staring at her and never saying anything."
"Like I said, I'm not ready. I don't know if I ever will be. I'm grateful to you and Katie for everything you've done for me, especially Katie helping with the children. I can do my own mending. Rebecca has become a good little housekeeper." Jacob felt his neck growing hotter with every footstep closer to the ice cream shop.
"I know that. And Katie and I are glad to help you. But it's time. Your children need a mother, and you a helpmate."
"Stop pushing me, Ephraim. I know what you're trying to say." Jacob continued the few steps to the street corner and the Bahia Vista stoplight. He didn't want the children to try to cross the busy street alone. They weren't used to watching out for traffic, not like this, anyway. They would make a few trips into town back in Ohio, but the town was far smaller than Sarasota and its infinite worldliness. The traffic, the constant reach of everything not-Plain into his Plain world. He didn't always understand how Plain people could live in the middle of it all. Life in Ohio felt much more in control.
Right. He almost laughed. Nothing had been in control since Hannah had left him. Left them all.
Ephraim kept silent, and Jacob knew he'd probably aggravated his brother.
God knew he'd accepted Hannah's death, and little Samuel's as well. The wounds inside him had scabbed over. Every so often, though, the pain would resurface and catch him when he wasn't paying attention, like the one time he'd cut his hand with a band saw when he was distracted at the cabinet shop. He couldn't help but pick at the scab as it healed.
He expelled a sigh before continuing. "Ephraim, I promise, after we leave Pinecraft, once we're home again, I'll go on. I don't know if it'll be with Betsy Yoder, but I'll think about it." Jacob figured he'd give his brother a shred of a promise. But he couldn't explain to Ephraim the restlessness he felt. His world was the same after losing Hannah and Samuel. His job at the cabinet factory, his home with the rooms Hannah had kept so spotless and filled with joy. Yet, his whole world had changed with the hole Hannah had left. If only an ice cream cone could help him forget his grief for a few minutes.
In sharp contrast to the tropical colors around them, their group stuck out like proverbial sore thumbs as they stood at the traffic lights and waited. Cars crisscrossed at the intersection. Big Olaf's ice cream parlor lay just across the street from them at the light.
Jacob sucked in a breath. He still hadn't grown accustomed to the traffic that zoomed through the heart of the Pinecraft neighborhood, and almost wished he had stayed back at the house with Mammi Rachel.
He wasn't scared of honking traffic, and ignored the pointing and stares as they crossed the street—tourists, Mammi assured him. The locals didn't mind the novelty of seeing the Amish and accepted the village as part of the city.
Jacob didn't want the children to see his reluctance to venture to the edge of the block. Everything in Florida was so ... different from Ohio. Yes, different. That was the best word. But he could understand loving the scent of the ocean, the warmth during winter time when all far away to the north was quickly freezing over.
The children scurried into Big Olaf's and Jacob followed as they gathered at the ice cream shop counter, Zeke and Rebecca with their cousins, clutching their money as they decided what ice cream they wanted. True to form, Rebecca changed her mind at least three times before choosing her flavor. That would have earned her a gentle scolding from Hannah. The thought made Jacob smile.
"I thought you wanted a cone," Jacob said as Rebecca turned to face him with a dish of vanilla ice cream, covered with chocolate sauce and nuts.
"I did. But then I decided I wanted to take my time while I eat. You can't take your time eating ice cream cones, you know," she replied and grinned at him, the blue of her eyes matching the fading blue of the evening sky. Hannah's eyes.
Jacob tugged on one of her braids. "Truthful girl, you are."
They all turned to leave. Even Ephraim and Katie had ordered ice cream. But not for him. Jacob shared his son's disbelief at the idea of eating ice cream at Christmas. And walking in shirtsleeves to the corner ice cream shop.
They carefully crossed the road and began to meander back into the neighborhood and safety.
"I forgot a spoon!" Rebecca exclaimed and whirled back toward Big Olaf's. "I'll be right back."
"Mind the road," Jacob called out. "Wait, I'll walk with you." He strode back toward Rebecca and the corner.
"Oh, Daed, I'm not a baby. I can watch for the light and look for cars." Rebecca's long skirt swished a few inches above her ankles. Not too many years from now, she'd be putting her hair up under her prayer covering. Jacob wasn't ready for that.
Just six paces behind her, Jacob saw the light turn. Rebecca kept her focus on the ice cream in the dish and then glanced up at Big Olaf's across the street.
She stepped into the crosswalk. A dark sedan took the corner. Cars moved so, so quickly.
Jacob's throat clenched. He darted forward. "Rebecca!"
She froze and looked back at him, then at the car.
The thud wrenched a shout from Jacob.
Rebecca's scream stung his ears.
He reached the corner as Rebecca's dish of ice cream landed on the warm asphalt.
* * *
A compound femur fracture, a hematoma on the brain, a concussion. But no internal injuries. Jacob found one thing to be thankful for, besides the fact that Rebecca now breathed peacefully, sedated because of her injuries, in the intensive care unit.
How close they'd come to losing her two days ago.
The driver of the car, a young Mennonite woman returning home after visiting her grandparents, had dissolved into a heap on the pavement, sobbing upon leaving the driver's seat.
On Christmas break from college in Virginia, she'd borrowed her parents' vehicle and had been hurrying home to get ready for a date. She looked more Englisch than anything in her shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops, but knew enough Dutch to speak to him and the family after the accident.
She hadn't seen Rebecca, who'd been walking with the light while the young woman turned. Children moved so quickly. The police weren't going to press charges. Jacob didn't think pressing charges would serve any purpose. This young woman deserved grace, and was suffering enough for one mistake.
Jacob sat up a little straighter in the cushioned chair in the intensive care unit. It had been his fault, really. He should have watched Rebecca more closely, should have kept her nearer to him, insisted she stop and wait for him to cross the street with her. He should have been firmer.
"She's always been the more willful one of your children," Ephraim observed.
"Ach, it's true. Hannah always knew ..." Yes, Hannah had always known how to handle Rebecca. Gotte, what am I going to do now?
"You'll have to stay in Pinecraft, far longer than Christmas."
"A long time." But he had a job in Ohio, and had to support his family. Yet, he wouldn't leave his daughter. Not here. Not alone, her body broken and her brain swollen, although she'd be with family.
No, he would stay here in Sarasota, for as long as it took for Rebecca to get well again.
But Sarasota had turned out to be a far, far more dangerous place than he'd ever imagined. He had a nagging feeling Sarasota held more dangers for them still.
* * *
"Natalie, dear, I wish you'd change your mind and join us for Christmas dinner," said Grace Montgomery. "You shouldn't have eaten alone. Come for pie, or something."
Natalie Bennett held her cell phone close to her ear, but not too close. She stood in the lobby of Sarasota General Hospital.
"Too late, I'm already at the hospital. But thanks for inviting me." She tried not to smudge her clown makeup. She hadn't brought her emergency makeup kit to fix any damage to the face she'd taken great care to paint not quite an hour ago.
"At least come for dessert later, please?" Even over the phone, Grace's sound of longing and gentle insistence couldn't be missed.
"All right, I will." A few passersby glanced Natalie's way and smiled at her getup. "I forgot to give you and Todd your gift the other night at the office party."
"Sweetie, you didn't have to get us anything."
"I know. But I wanted to." She glanced around. "Hey, I'll call you later. People are probably wondering who Bubbles the Clown is talking to on the phone."
"Just come on over once you're through."
"You've got it. Merry Christmas." Natalie ended the call and slipped the phone into her tote bag, full of tricks and novelties for the children she'd soon visit. She also toted a mesh bag stuffed with oranges from the tree in her apartment complex's yard. The kids would love them. Right. Who was she kidding? She should have brought chocolate bars. Being in the hospital at Christmas was as much fun as getting socks for a present. An orange probably wouldn't help soothe things like chocolate.
Part of her wished she'd told Grace, her boss, mentor, and friend, about her lack of Christmas plans, but then she didn't want the sympathy. Maybe Grace wouldn't have felt too sorry for her. Grace, like most people attached to the circus world, knew the traveling life quite well. Holidays and roots weren't the same for them. Natalie knew full well. She couldn't miss what she'd never had, could she?
A Christmas tree had sprouted in the main lobby of the hospital, and its twenty-foot artificial glory twinkled like a beacon against anyone who dared say that Christmas had forgotten the sick and injured children of Sarasota. A Chanukah menorah glowed on the fireplace mantel in the seating area.
Natalie headed for the elevator and braced herself for the atmosphere awaiting her in the ward. If they lived in a perfect world, no one would be in the hospital at Christmas. No one would be sick. They'd all have their Norman Rockwell scenes around dining room tables, and moms and dads would yawn over their ham or turkey after staying up late putting together toys. Kids would giggle around Christmas trees and then pass out like the little boy in A Christmas Story, clutching his zeppelin. But not these kids in the pediatrics wing.
Natalie was used to nontraditional Christmases, and some of the children she was about to visit were, too. Chronic illness and severe injuries didn't take holidays.
Excerpted from A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell. Copyright © 2014 Lynette Sowell. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Season of Change is a heartwarming story and left me with a feeling of goodness. With the addition of Rebecca and Zeke, there was a note of humor and a touch of wonder at the thoughts of the children. I was a bit disappointed in the amount of errors in the early chapters of the book, but they were easily overlooked because the story was so interesting. ***I received this book from the publisher/author in return for an honest review.
This was the first book that I have read by Lynette Sowell. I really enjoyed her writing style and the way that the story was told from many view points. I felt like I had a glimpse inside several of the characters and as such, was able to get to know them a little more. The story moved along at a nice pace, taking time to paint the picture but also keeping the story progressing. The struggle that both Natalie and Jacob experienced with their emotions and need to be true to themselves was very real. I am excited to see that there is another book planned for this series that will be published later this fall. It revisits one of the characters that was introduced in this story...and I hope that we get to see a glimpse of the continuing story of the main characters from A Season of Change. A complimentary review copy was provided.
A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell is a thoroughly enjoyable read. The characters are so well developed that you find yourself crying with them, holding your breath, and rejoicing. And sometimes all on the same page!! Ms. Sowell uses her gift of writing to produce an Amish tale with a decided twist. Setting the story in Pinecraft and plausibly drawing in the circus world makes for a fresh look at both ways of life as seen through the eyes of the wonderful characters. I found myself racing through the book to get to the next page and trying to slow down to put off getting to the end. Well done, Lynette Sowell! I certainly hope we get to visit with the Millers and the Yoders in another novel.
When I read that this book somehow combined the Amish with circus performers I knew I had to get my hands on it - it certainly didn't disappoint. I loved reading about how Natalie fell more in love with the Amish culture the longer she spent time with the people of Pinecraft. As I read I was wondering how Jacob and Natalie's story would play out since they came from vastly different backgrounds, Sowell crafted a beautiful love story and found a way to work it all out. This is the second book I've ready by Lynette Sowell and I plan to read many more! Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own.
A Season of Change is a unique Amish story that is filled with a fresh plot line. Within its pages, you will find quite the twist of unusual characters and events. I really enjoyed the fresh approach in an Amish fiction. I also enjoyed the familiarity of a nearby Ohio Amish community. Lynette Sowell does a very good job of sharing the likes and differences between the Amish, Mennonite, and Christian faiths. Comparisons are also made between the Pinecraft community in Florida and other Amish communities. I felt the author did a good job of including those likes and differences within the story as well as in an additional author’s note. I was disappointed in Abingdon Press in the poor editing of the book. There are several spelling/grammatical errors within the book. A copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Amish and the circus, quite a mix -- I found this book pretty interesting, from the start it has a catchy storyline. Amish and circus performers in one story, now that is a strange mix. It reminds you about how children see people and can build relationships when you don't have your 'adult' guard up. Lynette came up with a good idea for a book and I'm anxious to see what the next book in the series will be about. Ohhhh, I just looked on her blog for the second book in the series and boy does it sound 'yummy', "A Path Made Plain", and it looks like it will be out in November of this year!
I first decided to review this book because it was an Amish book (which I love) placed in a non-Amish place: Florida (which I also love!). I thought it would be interesting to read about how the Amish people interacted outside of their communities. I didn’t know there was a large Mennonite and Amish population in Sarasota, Florida, so that captivated me. I also enjoyed reading about the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the two groups of people. However, children from any religious background have many similarities and I liked to see that shine through in Rebecca and Zeke. Also fascinating was the competition between Natalie and a young Amish girl, Betsy, who is more than willing to step into the spot left by the death of Jacob’s wife. While there is no out-and-out brawling, the tension is pretty thick at many points. I applaud Sowell’s creation of this dynamic between the two women who both yearn to be part of Jacob’s life. Book 2 in the series, A Path Made Plain, is set for release in November of this year. This book focuses on Betsy and is one I’ll be sure to read even if it’s not part of a book tour! Betsy is a baker and I can’t wait to read all about her delicious creations. I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
An accident lands Jacob Miller's daughter in the hospital and a lady clown comes to cheer up his children. Seems straight forward, right? Jacob's Amish world was so peaceful... why did this beautiful, spirited English woman have to come into his life? Jacob has no idea how to relate to the wonderfully kind but entirely off-limits Natalie Bennett. How did his simple life as a widower with two children have to change so suddenly? But then again, maybe it hadn't been so simple after all... When I saw this book I thought "An Amish man and a circus performer? Whoa. Now that's a surprise!" Well, Lynette Sowell manages to make it work, and she tells quite an enjoyable story along the way. Season's of Change includes a tiny peek into the lives of circus families through a lovable heroine, and gives a glimpse into an Amish community where friendships last and lost people may just be found. I think this book's theme could be "God sets the lonely in families." Natalie, AKA Bubbles the Clown, lacks one thing that the Amish Millers have in abundance- family. And it's the one main thing she wants. She needed loving people in her life, and she never expected to find them when she entered a hospital room to make an Amish girl laugh. Theme two, for me, was always be prepared for something good to come along, and never expect it to look a certain way. Thank you Litfuse for my review copy. Amish Romance fans will delight in this tale... perhaps partly because of Jacob's intense awkwardness around Natalie! :)
Just picking up this book, I couldn’t imagine what was between its covers, but it intrigued me, and so glad I read it. You read the back of the book and find out that Jacob Miller is a widower with young children, and still mourning his wife. Also he travels to Pinecraft Florida, which I’ve heard of, with a lot of trepidation, and as it turns out it is good and bad that he is there. Jacobs’s path crosses with Natalie Bennett, and Englisher and former circus performer, as she visits the hospital dressed as a clown to help cheer the children. Not exactly how you picture a strict Amish man and a circus/clown meeting, and becoming intertwined in their lives. Now Jacob’s community is pressuring him to remarry and present a mother for his children Zeke and Rebecca. There is a young woman who is also visiting Florida that would love to take that position, but Jacob is not interested. You know of course, who he and the children choose, yes, Natalie, but can that ever be? Who will be willing to give up all they know, and are familiar with? There are some really big surprises here, and some you will never see coming. I sure didn’t! There are other characters we meet and fall in love with, and I am so happy that they were there and enriched the book. Be ready for a really wonderful and loving read and a very different love story! I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours and Abingdon Press, and was not required to give a positive review.
I thoroughly enjoyed this Amish/English novel! Pinecraft was such a fascinating place with interesting people, Amish and English alike! What attracted me originally to this novel was Natalie's job with the circus and her involvement with the Millers. I was definitely not disappointed! It was mind-blowing to me in reading about an Amish community in Florida and the different groups of Amish there! It was even more awesome to see how they embraced Natalie who was not even Plain as if she was no different then a fellow member of the Amish society! I absolutely fell in love with Rebecca and Zeke, Jacob's children! They sounded so adorable even if they did get into a little bit of mischief! Natalie was one of my favorite characters too with her thoughtful ways, but with an outgoing personality! Jacob was a little bit harder for me to relate to since he had so much on his plate! It was interesting to hear his story and the questions he had concerning faith! Overall, I really enjoyed this unique story! I learned a lot about the Amish community in Florida as well as the importance to trust God to work out everything according to His will! We just have to trust Him and thank Him for friends that help us along the way as they did for Natalie and Jacob! I can't wait to read more in this series! I give A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell a 5 out of 5 stars! *(I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review! All thoughts expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review!)*
Hard to believe you might find a common ground with the life of a circus performer and an Amish family in the latest novel from author Lynette Sowell. Yet that is what you will find as the basic premise in A Season of Change in the first novel in the Seasons of Pinecraft series. Both of the main characters are going through their own "seasons of change" with being in Pinecraft, Florida, a place where the Amish generally come in the winter months from their towns up North. Jacob Miller had only planned on being in Pinecraft for two weeks to celebrate Christmas with his grandparents and in hoping to distance himself from the painful memories of losing his wife Hannah. Now it seems as if everyone expects him to move on and find a new wife, hopefully a young Amish girl like Betsy Yoder who has expressed more than a passing interest in Jacob. But when an unexpected accident he didn't plan or see coming lands his daughter in the hospital, it looks as if his stay in Pinecraft is going to be extended for quite some time. Miss Bubbles, the clown always loves to spend her free time visiting children that are stuck in the hospital during Christmas and this time is certainly no exception. What she doesn't plan on is finding an Amish family dealing with the miracle recovery of Rebecca Miller. She is confined to a hospital bed just grateful to be alive after being hit by a car she didn't see coming. Now it seems that happiness has found its way into her room, Natalie Bennett is utilizing her skills coming from the circus to dress up as a clown and bring smiles to the faces of children like Rebecca who are confined in the hospital. She is more than happy to make her smile and offers a small juggling lesson of oranges to both Rebecca and her brother Zeke who is beyond fascinated by Natalie. What she didn't plan on is falling head over heels for their father Jacob whose blue eyes can captivate and steal your heart. I received A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell compliments of Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I love how Natalie is provided with an outlet of finding out more about her family roots when her father mails her mother's belongings to her and she realizes she has an Amish history. It creates hope for both the characters of Natalie and Jacob that even though they are vastly different in respects to how they have grown up, there exists a possibility that they can make things work between them in time. I love the aspect of using a tie of with Natalie having a circus background which makes the story all the more interesting and not something I have encountered in Amish fiction before. I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and look forward to the next book in the series due this fall. A Reading Discussion Guide is included in this novel.
This is the first book of this author that I have read. I found her style engaging, and quickly got hooked with the story line. Her unusual pairing of characters...a former circus performer and an Amish family...was interesting. I can imagine this situation happening, humans being human and life being complicated sometimes. I appreciated the look into life in Pinecraft, FL. I would gladly get the second book of this series when it comes out.
Present Day - Florida "It's hard to know how much compromise is too much, and what's not a big issue at all. Most of us who aren't Amish could argue all day about what's a compromise to our faith, and how 'separate' from the world we should be. For them, being separate comes from the inside as well as out." -Natalie I really like Amish fiction but sometimes it can tend to have a lot of similarities from one book to the next. A Season of Change really breaks away from the normal and, for me, that really added to the appeal of the story. Natalie Bennett is a former aerial silks artist for the circus and now teaches kids and adults at the local circus school founded by her best friend, Grace Montgomery. She also goes to hospitals dressed as a clown to entertain sick children. She has recently discovered that her mother was Amish and when she meets Jacob and his family she feels drawn to them immediately. I really loved the circus aspect being included in the story. That is something I have never read in Amish fiction before. I found it to be a very interesting change and it really drew me into the story. Jacob Miller is a fairly recent widower and is being pressured by his family to marry again. Only he feels no connection or pull towards the traditional Amish girl they are trying to direct him to choose. Even though he feels there is no chance of a relationship with Natalie Bennett, she is the one he is drawn to. He loves the way Natalie is with his children and how much they love her in return. Jacob is a traditional Amish man. Quiet, not prone to displays of affection and very protective of his children. I loved his character and his quite charm. I also loved the way he doted on Rebecca while she was recovering. He was a model father and a very endearing character. I also loved the community of Pinecraft. It was so diverse and charming. I have never read about a place that had such a wide range of Amish and Mennonites. Some were very old order Amish that adhered to the traditional rules of their faith. But others were more lax with the rules and did things like having electricity, riding on the city buses, dressing in normal clothing and everywhere you looked they were riding bicycles. Not your average Amish on horse and buggy with long dresses, aprons and prayer kapp. I can't think of one thing I didn't like about this book. It literally renewed my interest in Amish fiction. I had gotten in a bit of a rut when it came to reading it but it made me look forward to my next book. The storyline is spot on. It's fun and lighthearted but at the same time it has all the depth you expect from Amish fiction. It puts a fun twist on the Amish faith and takes you to places you've never been. This is my first book by Lynette Sowell but I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. If you like Amish fiction with a slight twist on the traditional you'll love this book and I highly recommend it! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review and no monetary compensation was received.
Lynette Sowell writes a love story like no other. Typical love stories plot along with the two parties falling in love the conventional way. However, the two people in this love story are far from typical. In the Amish world, many say "What happens in Pinecraft stays in Pinecraft". Jacob is an Old Order Amish who decided to visit Pinecraft, Florida with his two children. Having lost his wife and newborn son, he is struggling to find his way. He has questions which he knows he should not ask according to his Bishop, family and community. Feeling pressure to remarry, Jacob wants to marry for love and not convenience but is afraid. Enter Natalie Bennett aka: Bubbles the clown. She is an English woman searching for her path. Set adrift with her Mother's passing and her Father's attention on his new family, an unusual box from her Father sets Natalie on her own search. She has lived in Sarasota, Florida but has never been to Pinecraft. Has she found her past or possibly her future? I loved how Ms. Sowell had Jacob questioning. So many times in Amish books, we see the characters just follow the rules and not question. Jacob has questions. Even though he knows he should not ask, he does anyway. Both Jacob and Natalie want to follow God's lead, even if that means not being together. Both are willing to sacrifice happiness and love for the other. They want what is God's path. Natalie cannot ask Jacob to give up his world. Jacob cannot ask Natalie to give up hers. Is there a middle path? Is there a compromise? With help from some of the people in Pinecraft, Sarasota, and Ohio, can this middle ground be reached? Makes we remember: "If you love something set it free". Will these two be willing, if it is God's will, to set each other free? Great story and looking forward to the next book!!!