Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry. Can she overcome a painful secret and open her heart to love?
It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.
Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.
Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?
In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.
About the Author
Kelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeeper’s Son received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors. Visit her online at Kelly Irvin.com; Instagram: kelly_irvin; Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author; Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.
Read an Excerpt
The smack of the baseball against an aluminum bat sounded like summer. At thirty-seven, Jennie Troyer hadn't been a student in many years, but the end-of-school picnic still caused her spirits to soar as if she were ten and set free for the next few months. She might be old, but she understood how her children felt. That curious lightheartedness for this one afternoon on the last day of April.
Smiling at the thought, Jennie clapped as Cynthia smacked a blooper into what served as right field and scurried to the discarded rug that did double duty as first base. Micah hurled the ball to Celia at second base, and the chatter from the parents seated in lawn chairs on the sidelines reached a crescendo. Jennie's children comprised almost half the players on the field. Their cheeks were red, their hair sweaty, and their clothes dirty, but they didn't seem to mind that summer had arrived early in Missouri.
After all they'd been through — no matter how much time had passed — they deserved a few hours of carefree, childish play. Despite the heat Jennie shivered. She studied the rows of corn plants in nearby fields and tried to recapture the happiness she'd felt only seconds earlier. Raising her face to the sun, she begged it to burn away a pain that still barged into her day at odd, unexpected moments.
"Your kinner are on fire today, aren't they? I'm surprised Francis isn't out there too." Mary Katherine Ropp plopped her dumpling-shaped body into a sagging lawn chair next to Jennie's. Grasshoppers sprang in all directions in her wake. She smelled of charcoal and grilled hot dogs. "He's Elizabeth's little shadow these days."
Afraid her perceptive friend would read her face, Jennie sprang to her feet and did a head count with her index finger. Matthew, her graduate and oldest son at fourteen, stood at third base, his hands on his hips, his usual sullen look on his face. Followed at various places on and off the field by Celia, thirteen; Micah, eleven; Cynthia, ten; Mark, seven; and Elizabeth, six and just finishing her first year of school. No Francis. At four, her youngest had a mind of his own, a penchant for trouble, and sturdy little legs to carry him there.
"Mark was showing him how to swing the bat only a second ago." With so many mothers in the mix on picnic day, Jennie could count on family and friends to keep an eye on her youngest, but still she surveyed the crowd. Force of habit. Since Atlee's death four years earlier, she held both father and mother reins in tight fists that she didn't dare relax. "I better track him down before he decides to eat an entire pan of applesauce cake or feed a worm to one of the boplin."
"He's probably playing on the swings. Let's talk about the store while we have the chance." Mary Katherine crossed her ankles and sat still for what was most likely the first time that day. "Your help would mean so much to me and the others, but even more, it would be good for you. It's time."
Not time. The mere thought of talking to the English tourists and making change while they waited made Jennie's hands tremble and her mouth go dry. Several families had pooled their meager funds to open a new tourist store in Jamesport. Jennie loved sewing quilts and baby blankets, embroidering dresser scarves and pillowcases, making jams and jellies, and baking cookies for the store. Working there was another angry beehive altogether. "I better check on Francis. You know how much trouble that boy can stir up."
"We need to talk." Mary Katherine tempered her firm words with a sweet smile that didn't match the worry in her blue eyes. "Soon."
Her friend never worried about anything. Leastways not that it showed. Torn, Jennie paused. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Nothing new." Mary Katherine clapped for Mark's single into right field. Jennie automatically joined her and the other parents. "The store was my idea. Folks need the income. They're not making ends meet just farming. They haven't for a long time."
"It was a good idea."
"We're putting a lot of our precious savings into the monthly lease payments and the renovations." Turning the space from a butcher shop into Amish Treasures had been a major undertaking, but one they'd accomplished together. "So far there's only a trickle of customers."
"The tourist season is only just beginning." Jennie let her gaze wander across the crowd along the sideline. No Francis. "Give it time. Everyone thinks it's a good idea."
Mary Katherine frowned, her freckled nose wrinkled. "I don't know about Freeman and the other men."
"They would've said no if they didn't."
"I'm a widowed woman. They want me to make myself useful, I reckon."
"You worked at the bed and breakfast. You're our scribe for the newspaper. You've always been helpful. Your middle name is helpful."
"My middle name is Katherine."
She said it with such aggravation, Jennie giggled. Mary Katherine shook her head and grinned. "Go find Francis. Make sure he's not climbing on the roof. We'll talk later. We also need to finish Bess's quilt. They'll be publishing their announcement any day now, if I'm not mistaken, and I've never been mistaken."
Indeed, she rarely was. They needed to finish the blue and white Double Irish Chain quilt for Bess Weaver, who would leave her widowhood behind soon — as soon as she and Aidan Graber got around to telling the world they planned to marry. The Gmay elders were pleased with that, even though everyone pretended not to know. How could they miss the looks that passed between those two? The elders likely weren't so pleased with the remaining trio of widows — Jennie, Mary Katherine, and Laura Kauffman — who each had more than their share of years alone.
Some things couldn't be helped. Or were meant to be. Or some other such silly platitude. Jennie kept busy and chose not to think about the empty corners of her life. If she didn't have a husband, she certainly couldn't be trotting off to work in the store. Her children already lacked a father. They needed their mother at home where she ought to be.
Jennie tried to keep her tone conciliatory. "Come by the house later. Pick up Laura on the way and we'll get in a few hours of quilting tonight."
"Good plan. We'll talk while we sew. Bring me a glass of lemonade when you return, if you don't mind." Mary Katherine scratched with plump fingers at barbecue bean sauce that had dried on her apron. Catsup and mustard stains made for an abstract painting with the apron as an impromptu canvas. Her tone said the quilt would not be the only topic of conversation. "All that burning hot dogs on the charcoal grill has given me a heatstroke. I'll cheer on the team."
At fifty-five plus, Mary Katherine had the constitution of a much younger woman with vim and vigor that Jennie tried her hardest not to envy. Most days she felt much older than her age. Envy was a big, fat, slimy sin. "Of course. Lemonade and humongous slices of applesauce cake all around."
Mary Katherine acknowledged the veiled compliment — she'd baked the cake — with a small grin. She leaned back in the chair with a contented sigh. No doubt, in seconds the older woman would be snoozing.
Swatting at a cloud of gnats, Jennie threaded her way through the clusters of folks visiting and eating homemade vanilla ice cream that called her name even though she was stuffed with hot dog, chips, baked beans, and coleslaw. No Francis at the food tables. No curly, brown-haired, dimple-cheeked little boy who looked like an angel and raced around like a dervish that reminded her all too much of Atlee.
Don't. Don't do it.
She forced herself to breathe, in and out, in and out.
A gaggle of girls cut in front of her, laughing, hands entwined, racing for the homemade ice cream station manned by Atlee's brother, Darren Troyer. Their gazes connected over the sea of white prayer kapps. He had that same dark, curly hair as his brother, but his was washed through with fine silver strands that stuck out from under his straw hat. His salt-and-pepper beard curled in just the same way as his brother. The same steely blue eyes cut through her. Jennie swerved left.
A sudden chill ran through her despite the humid air that warmed her damp face. She wrapped her arms around her middle and ducked her head. Her gaze landed on the bruise on her wrist. She'd hit it on the gate the day before, trying to corral the horses. The ugly black-and-blue mark mesmerized her.
Atlee grabbed her arm and jerked her around to face him. "You'll do as I say and you'll do it now, fraa."
Pain ripped through her arm and shoulder. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disagree. I only meant —"
"You don't know your place. You never have." His fingers tightened in a painful grip. His other hand came up and wavered in the air overhead. It dropped. "Go on. Get in the house. The laundry won't do itself."
She stumbled back, afraid to look away, even though he rarely hit her. Not like that. He used words like fists. They hurt far more.
"What's going on, Ms. Jennie? You look perturbed."
Jennie flinched, jumped, and stifled a shriek. Her sisters-in-law — all three of them — looked up at the same time from a whispered conversation that surely involved a critique of her widow's life. Jennie shrugged and smiled. She turned to greet Nathan Walker, itinerant book salesman who always managed to arrive at these gatherings while food still prevailed in abundance. "Nee, no, I'm not worried."
It had been four years and still, those moments came. Not as often, but just as heart-stopping.
She schooled her voice to halt the tremble. "I'm looking for Francis. It seems he's wandered off."
Nathan shoved his red St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap back on his head, revealing a tan line across his forehead. His damp auburn hair was plastered to his skin. He wore his usual white short-sleeve cotton shirt, khaki pants, and Nike sneakers. He dressed like a man who didn't worry too much about what he put on in the morning. "Want me to track him down for you?" His broad smile warmed blue eyes with a slight tinge of lilac in them. A color that bemused Jennie every time she saw him. What exactly did a person call it? Something outlandish like periwinkle? "He can't have gone too far on those little legs."
It was her job alone to keep Francis safe. It had been since he was six months old and Atlee had left her struggling to care for seven children alone. No matter how hard it was, she couldn't shake a sneaky feeling of relief.
It had been fifteen years of never knowing what might set him off, never knowing what angry load he would decide to dump upon her the second he set the buggy in motion after a lovely, yet egg-shell fragile day. Guilt married relief. He was gone.
No one knew her guilty secret. But God knew. God knew because He let it happen.
Her dream of being a wife and mother became an increasingly menacing nightmare with each passing year and each new baby. What kind of monster did it make her that she had longed for sweet release and it had come — in the form of her own husband's death?
Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.
Nathan stared, a puzzled look on his face.
"Jah, yes, I mean. You'd be surprised." She swallowed against the bitter taste of bile in the back of her throat and perused the yard where the men had set up a trampoline. Several children took turns bounding into the air.
Think. Think. She wouldn't put it past Francis to try and skinny up the pole. No, he wasn't there. Nor had he convinced one of the younger mothers to push him in the tree tire swing. "Last week, I found him beating a path down to the pond on his own when he was supposed to be helping in the vegetable garden. I'm not sure if he intended to go for a swim or fish. He has no fear."
Francis also didn't seem to find it necessary to tell her about his adventures. He might be the spitting image of his father, but he didn't share Atlee's affinity for endless proclamations and angry tirades. In fact, he barely spoke a word. Probably because he couldn't get one in edgewise with six older brothers and sisters.
"He's all boy, that's for certain." Nathan laid his ever-present backpack of books on a picnic table bench. Not that he would sell books at the picnic. These were books he read. The man always had one at the ready in case he had a free moment. He turned and strode toward the schoolhouse, his long legs pumping. "I'll check inside if you want to look in the outhouses."
The thought of the trouble a four-year-old could get into in an outhouse curdled the food in Jennie's stomach. She broke into a trot and headed first to the boys' building. Empty. Fighting the urge to pinch her nose against the odor of bodily functions heated by a brilliant sun, she called Francis's name. No answer. "Anyone there? Francis, are you in there?"
No answer. She did a quick peek. Empty. No one in the girls' outhouse, either.
Where had he gone? Two purple martins scolded her from their perch on the bird apartment house the boys had constructed. Neither seemed willing to share her son's whereabouts.
She whirled and tromped through overgrown dandelions and scraggly grass to the school. Nathan bounded down the steps. "Empty except for Nellie and Sue Ann botching. I told them they should go outside and enjoy the day." He jerked his thumb toward the fence and the open field on the other side dotted with rows of corn stalks just breaking through the soil. Small leaves fluttered in the lackadaisical breeze. "Any chance he took off exploring on his own?"
Nathan's use of the German name for the clapping game made Jennie smile. He spent a lot of time playing games with the kids. "With Francis anything's possible."
Her blood pulsing in her ears, hands sweaty, Jennie gripped a fence post. Surely the gazes of her brothers, their wives, Atlee's family, and even Bishop Freeman were upon her. How did she get over the fence with its barbed wire without ripping her dress, or worse, falling?
Smiling, Nathan knelt and stretched apart the bottom wire and the second one. He smelled good. Like spicy aftershave. She tried not to notice, but a person couldn't help what her nose decided to do, could she?
She crawled through the space and straightened. Despite herself she looked back. Freeman frowned. The tribe of in-laws stared. His sisters had those same icy-blue eyes and the same black hair peeking around their kapps. It was as if Atlee peered at her wherever she went, following her, taunting her, accusing her.
"Are you all right? Aside from Francis taking the fun out of the picnic?" Nathan wiggled through the opening, an intricate feat given his six-foot frame, which appeared to be mostly legs. "You look ..." He paused as if searching for the right word. "Tired." His expression said that wasn't the word he sought.
No one, besides Mary Katherine and Laura, ever commented on how Jennie looked. She started forward, careful not to step on the plants. She let her gaze roam to the other side and the tree break that divided the field from another filled with sprouting rye. No sign of her son. "I'm fine. No reason to complain."
None whatsoever. Which didn't keep a body from doing it. It was human nature, Mary Katherine would say.
"If you need help with anything, I'm available."
This Mennonite traveling salesman wanted to help her? "How long will you be in Jamesport?" Not the proper response at all. She should've said thank you and let it go. "I mean, don't you have work to do?"
"Actually, that's what I wanted to tell you. I was looking for you —"
"Please don't do that." Fear thrilled through her. She quickened her step toward the heart of the field. "Francis, Francis! Are you out here? If you are, you better come back now." No answer. She didn't want Nathan thinking about her at all. She didn't want any man thinking about her.
She glanced over her shoulder again. In the distance, Leo Graber hitched his horse to his buggy. He probably intended to leave the picnic early. Not unusual for a man who wasn't much for socializing.
"Why would you be looking for me?"
"I didn't mean to offend you." Nathan's sunburned face turned a deeper, burnished red to match his hair. "I only wanted to say, well, nothing, I guess. I mean, just say hello, I guess."
His arm swept out, forcing Jennie to halt.
"Look." He whispered the word and then put a finger to his lips.
She followed his gaze. A sleeping Francis, his straw hat clasped in his dirty hands, his curly brown hair wet with sweat, lay sprawled under an inkberry bush sprouting below the farthest oak trees in the windbreak.
Excerpted from "Beneath the Summer Sun"
Copyright © 2017 Kelly Irvin.
Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful read!! I really enjoyed.
Very good read, sadness and hope
Loved it from beginning to end. Very engaging and extremely interesting. It is not the usual Amish novel.
I really enjoyed Beneath the Summer Sun! It was a very quick and interesting read. This author keeps you entertained. This is not your typical Amish fiction book. The author in each of her books deals with tough issues. But doesn’t leave it there she brings hope and peace into her books. I really connected with the characters in this book. Jennie was my favorite character in the book. She is a real and relatable character. She has a lot of fear but lets God change her so she can move forward in her life. This book keeps your interest from the first few pages. You will really enjoy Beneath the Summer Sun! I can’t wait to read book three in this series! *I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. No positive review was required for this book. My opinion is my own and is honest.
A great story about overcoming an abusive past. As with all of Kelly's other books I've read this was a very good read. She pulls you into the world of abusive that can happen in Amish communities just as it does in the English ones, the struggle to 'not' blame yourself for everything that happens to you and finding the strength and faith to move on with your life and let yourself be happy again. I am really enjoying this series and would suggest that you read the books in order. Now onto the third book "Through the Autumn Air", can't wait!!
Even the Amish have real problems, family issues, secrets. This story dealt with a very serious issue that is often hidden from others. Jennie is an Amish widow with seven children. She had been physically and emotionally abused by her deceased husband Atlee, who also harshly abused their children. She felt guilty for feeling relieved that he died. Because he treated her well before they married and changed right after, she has a hard time trusting any man. But with so many children to care for she also struggles with finances. Trusting God to lead her in His will for her life is very difficult. She finds two men vying for her attention but is untrusting of either. The characters were so real to me. I hurt for Jennie as she recalled some of her interactions with Atlee. I cried more, rejoiced some, held my breath a time or two, and almost found myself praying for her. Now that's a great portrayal of a character! Follow along with Jennie and her story to see what her future holds and where God leads her. I'm sure it will draw you in as it did me. I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher through the Fiction Guild but was not required to write a review.
Kelly Irvin is a very talented writer, and this book showcases her talent. This is an emotional, heart-wrenching book to read. The main theme throughout the book is recovery from both physical and emotional domestic abuse. Ms. Irvin successfully brings all the heartache and emotions to the story from the viewpoint of the abused wife and her older son. As we follow Jennie though the storyline, we experience her fear, sorrow, anger and even undeserved guilt over being glad that she was rescued from the situation by the accidental death of her husband. The characters of Leo, Jennie, and Nathan are very compelling. Their lives intersect for a purpose as they seek to find hope and faith again. This book is not light reading. But even though the topic is abuse, Kelley Irvin effectively communicates this without any bad language or inappropriate scenes. Definitely a book for mature readers. If you have a young teen girl, I’d suggest first reading it yourself. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. This is my honest opinion of the book.
This book had an interesting story line. Jennie's husband died 4 years ago in an accident and the Gmay is ready for her to remarry. But can she trust another man with her love and her children? She is struggling with fear due to her first husband. Will she overcome it? Suddenly there are 2 men vying for her attention. Will she let them in or will she give in to her fear? Leo is trying to overcome his fear of others and loss. Will he be able to overcome this and help Jennie with her oldest son Matthew? A good read.
BENEATH THE SUMMER SUN is set in Jamesport, Missouri, a real-life Amish community in northern Missouri. Kelly Irvin is the one who introduced me to this area when she went on a research trips several years ago and posted pictures. I had to go visit the area for myself. Jennie is an abused woman, terrified to start over with a new man even though she's expected to remarry She has seven children, her oldest is fourteen and he's beginning to have anger issues like Jennie's deceased husband, but she's at a lose how to handle him. There are two men interested in Jennie, and both are sweet as anything. One is a talker and a bookworm, a real gentleman, but he's Mennonite. While he may be welcome in the community as a book salesman, but as a prospective groom for an Amish widow? Not so much. Leo is the strong, silent type. He lost Jennie years ago and is suffering from acute guilt for his father's death. I hurt for him. This is a love-triangle, which is frowned upon by some publishers, but it works. Both Leo and Nathan's point of view is included, and this reader cheered for first one then the other in the quest for Jennie's heart. I couldn't decide who I wanted to win. But the decision wasn't up to me and I was satisfied with the Happy Ever After ending, A good read. I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.
Another winner from the talented Kelly Irvin! I have been looking forward to more stories of the three older Jamesport widows in this unusual series, but this book went beyond my expectations. Who couldn't empathize with Jennie Troyer - a devoted mother of seven, carrying such a painful secret that her life seemed an endless round of chores and fearful flashbacks? But she's not the only one hurting from old wounds; three of the most important males in her life find their attitudes and choices shaped by missing fathers. Each character has to decide whether to keep hiding their scars and disappointment inside, or risk opening their hearts and admitting their need for healing. Each has to trust God to mend their traumatized spirits and show them the path He has for them. If you read Amish fiction to escape your "real" world for a gentle, old fashioned place, Irvin's books are not for you. Instead, she vividly shows us what struggles we all have in common, and how only God can untangle our hearts' messy knots, while giving us a well-researched peek into the Plain life. Let me warn you, your heart will race as page-by-page you discover the secrets of Jamesport (Does this sound like a pacifist to you? "If I had known...It would have ended or I would have ended him.")! This is the second book of the "Every Amish Season" series, and although they can be read as stand-alone novels, do yourself a favor and read "Upon a Spring Breeze" first. You'll meet some familiar characters, and recognize anew how long love can endure dormancy before blossoming. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via the Fiction Guild, and was not required to post a review.
Jennie has been a widow for four years and the leaders of her Amish community are ready for her to remarry for the sake of her children. But how does she learn to trust and love again when her husband verbally and physically abused her. How could God allowed that to happen. Mennonite book salesman Nathan is thinking of converting to old order Amish because of his feelings for Jennie, but he struggles with his family's past. Then there's Leo who has loved Jennie since they were teens, but he struggles with guilt over his Dad's death and letting Jennie marry someone else. Can he learn to trust God, forgive himself and move forward. In the second book of the Every Amish Season, three people try to understand God's plan for them. So many of the Amish books seem to be so similar. This book is different. I enjoyed it much more than many of the Amish stories I've read.
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I'm not a big fan of love triangles, but Ms. Irvin gave us all three POVs, so it wasn't immediately obvious who Jennie would end up with. I happen to think she chose the right man, but hey, no spoilers here, so you'll have to read it to find out who that man is. I received this book from the publisher/author for the purpose of review. I was not paid in any way and the above is my honest opinion.
This is book 2 of the series "An Every Amish Season". I have to admit that I did not yet read book 1. But I will be going back to read it. I really enjoyed this book. I don't feel as though as missed something by not having read the first book in the series because it serves well on it's own as a stand alone. I am so happy I was able to read this engaging book. You will probably "stay up late" reading this one. It was hard for me to put down. I always appreciate a book with Christian values and this one includes this. It's a touching and moving book. I received an ebook copy from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
Beneath the Summer Sun is a beautifully written story about second chances. This is the second novel in An Every Amish Season series by Kelly Irvin. Many in the Amish community did not realize the life Jennie Troyer had with her husband. Even though he passed away four years ago, she still has flashbacks of those terrible days. She does have seven beautiful children who have gotten her through those hard times. She has caught the attention of two men, Nathan, a traveling Mennonite book salesman and Leo, an Amish man. Would she risk letting go of her faith to pursue a relationship with Nathan? What of Leo? He has had his fair share of pain and hurt in the past and has a hard time opening up to people. What future does God have in store for her? Is it with either of them? Kelly Irvin is an amazing author and I always enjoy reading the books she writes. When you start reading Beneath the Summer Sun you will feel like you are right there with the characters in beautiful Jamesport, Missouri. The characters experience circumstances that we can all relate to including fear, hurt, faith, hope and love. Once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down! I definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book for yourself and a friend, it would make the perfect gift! I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.
Kelly Irvin has penned another touching novel you won't want to miss. Beneath the Summer Sun, the second novel in her Every Amish Season series, tells the story of three people searching for healing, peace, and God's plan for their lives. Jennie Troyer's husband died four years ago leaving her to raise seven children on her own. She is expected to remarry, but she is afraid to trust again after suffering physical and emotional abuse throughout her marriage. How can she trust herself to make the right decision? How can she trust another man to treat her differently? Leo Graber cared for Jennie when they were young, but guilt over his father's death kept him from moving forward with his own life. He let Jennie slip away and marry another man. His feelings for Jennie have never died. Can he make peace with the past and convince Jennie to pursue a future with him? Nathan Walker, Mennonite book salesman has visited Jennie's house often over the years. He feels drawn to her to the point of seeking membership in the Amish church. But he has ghosts from his own past to lay to rest. Can he make drastic changes in his life to win Jennie's love or does God have some other plan for him? Three hurting, lonely people are seeking balm for their troubled hearts. Kelly Irvin expertly intertwines their stories with themes of hope, forgiveness, and healing. The characters are so well developed you will be convinced you know them personally. You will laugh with them and cry with them, and most of all, be touched by them. What a wonderful novel. Thank you, Kelly! Susan Lantz Simpson
Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin was a terrific second book in the An Every Season Amish series. I love how her novels keep the same characters while adding depth to the ones I’ve already grown to love and introducing yet even more. What a beautiful depiction of a subject relevant to today’s headlines; yet not very talked about privately. I thought she did a great job interweaving the healing of similar but different issues along with a myriad of other themes effortlessly. My heart went out to Jennie’s oldest son, Matthew, and I love how healing was portrayed for him too. The theme of friendship and family ties, always prevalent in Amish stories are portrayed even more so in this series. I cannot wait to continue my friendship with Adian and Bess, Jennie, Laura, Mary Katherine, and Leo in the next book, slated to release this summer. I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
One of the reasons I love reading books by this author is because with a few words I am swep away to another place. Her vivid description of the setting takes my breath away. She is an excellent writer and I fall in love with the characters each time. I loved the story and wanted to sit down with Jennie and hold her hand. She had kept a dark secret for many years. Not every marriage is perfect but Jennie’s was like living a nightmare. Her fear of doing something wrong kept her on egg shells. Now that she has seven children to raise on her own, what will she do? Can she continue to scrape by, or will she follow what the church thinks she needs to do? One of the things I found so fascinating was learning the difference between Anabaptist and Mennonites. There are many things the Mennonites allow, that the Anabaptist don’t. I loved how the author brings Nathan into the story. He is a good man, but I’m not sure he can get Jennie’s attention. They come from different backgrounds and for Jennie she doesn’t want to go against her church. He wants to make roots in the community, but devastating news may change that. What will Nathan decide? Leo is the kind of man who would make a great husband. He is a good hard working man. He is very quiet and hard to talk to though. Many people have talked to him about his guilt over his father’s death. Leo feels responsible and he will have to lean on God to heal him. I loved the turmoil that Jennie and Leo are going through. They each have guilt that is overwhelming them. For Jennie , will she learn to trust another man, or stay in her own raising her children? Can Leo learn to forgive himself ? The story is like a walk through the countryside with beautiful things waiting to be explored. It can bring you new adventure and give you a sense of peace while allowing God to heal hearts. I loved this story and wanted it to not end. I loved this quote from the story ,”It’s a sign of overwhelming pride when a man thinks he’s the only one who can do God’s work.” I received a copy of this book from the author. The review is my own opinion.
Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin is the second installment in An Every Amish Season series. Jennie Troyer is a widow with seven children in Jamesport, Missouri. It has been four years since her husband, Atlee passed away, and Jennie is content to live without a spouse. Jennie never told a soul about the type of husband Atlee was and how she can still hear his voice in her head belittling her. Leo Graber has been in love with Jennie since they were young. His guilt over his father’s death has prevented him from pursuing a relationship with Jennie or living a happy, fulfilling life. Nathan Walker is a Mennonite traveling book salesman who has fallen for Jennie. He visits her farm whenever he is in the area and enjoys spending time with Jennie and the children. Nathan has been unable to settle down in one place because of resentment towards his parents for their mission work and leaving him behind when he was younger. He is contemplating becoming Amish to be with Jennie. Matthew Troyer, Jennie’s oldest son, has been moody, rude, sneaking out of the house at night and refuses to discuss what is troubling him with Jennie. What will it take for the four of them (Jennie, Leo, Nathan, and Matthew) to resolve their issues and move forward with their lives? While Beneath the Summer Sun is the second book in the series, it can be read alone. You need not have read Upon a Spring Breeze which involves different characters (but in the same community). Beneath the Summer Sun is well-written and engaging. I appreciate this author’s writing style (makes for an easy and enjoyable novel). I was drawn in right away and my attention was held until the end of the book. The story contains lovely characters that are nicely constructed and develop over the course of the book. They are realistic and relatable as well as the issues that they are experiencing. I like how Ms. Irvin handled the subject of domestic abuse (physical and mental). It is an issue that is generally not addressed in Amish novels and the author shows that abuse is not limited to Englischers (as we are called). I am grateful that the author does not paint the Amish in a picture-perfect world. The author has a way of incorporating Christian values into the book (light touch). It flows nicely with the story and does not come across as preachy. Some of the issues that are addressed are faith, following God’s path for your life, power of prayer, scripture, trust, forgiveness (of oneself and others), love, grace and guilt. Beneath the Summer Sun is a captivating book that will stay with you long after you finish it. I am eager to read the next book in An Every Amish Season series which is Through the Autumn Air. We get Mary Katherine Ropp’s story who is in Beneath the Summer Sun.
Books in the Amish genre can be considered "cozy" or "easy-reading". There has been an up-tick lately of authors who specialize in the Amish themes taking on story lines that deal with tough topics. Kelly Irvin steps up to bat with this wonderful novel about an Amish widow with a bunch of difficult issues to handle, both in her community and in her personal life. There is healing that needs to happen on many fronts in this book, and it drew me in to read the characters' struggles. If you don't learn something from reading this book; about your faith, or your heart, or your trust, you must be farther along in your journey than I. The struggles that Irvin took on were some that many people can relate to, and her wise words told through her characters are meaningful. Six thumbs up for this one!
The author had me guessing from beginning to end as to who Jennie’s choice would be, or if she could ever commit again. Shocking facts come out about her marriage to a sadist and shows that abuse crosses all cultures, and Jennie and her seven children are survivors. Will Jennie ever be able to trust her heart again, widows are expected to remarry and provide a father figure for their children, but will she ever be able to trust again. The candidates are a friendly Mennonite man with hidden childhood hurts, and a very quiet Amish man who once had his chance to be with Jennie. I know I found myself rooting for one, and was right, but there is a lot going on to bring myself to the conclusion. We are Jamesport, Mo and back with old friends, and walk with this Amish Community as they go about their everyday life, and try to make ends meet, and we watch as they survive the trials that come their way. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Zondervan, and was not required to give a positive review.
This story is such a good addition to the Every Amish Season series! The author handles the very difficult topic of spousal abuse and the after effects of that kind of treatment. Jennie Troyer had a lot of fear, doubt, and guilt to overcome and this story walks with her on the journey to healing and trusting again. There were two men vying for Jennie’s attention and hoping for her love. I definitely had a favorite of the two men and felt that only he would be capable of the patience needed to love Jennie while she figured things out. I also liked the way he related to her children. Both men were kind and both men were good to her children, but I enjoyed watching Jennie realize who really had her heart. Beneath the Summer Sun is the second book in the series, however, it can be read as a stand alone novel. (4.5 stars) I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Beneath the Summer Sun is book 2 in An Every Amish Season series by Kelly Irvine. This is a powerful story of surviving a loss of a husband and father. Jennie's was stuck in an abusive marriage. When her husband died she felt guilty, as she wanted the abuse to stop so bad. Now, a few years later, she is trying to move forward. The traveling book salesman is interested in forming a relationship with her. He is not of the Amish faith. And Leo is ready to try again with Jennie. Years earlier Leo tried to have a friendship with Jennie, but the loss of his own father was too great. In this story we catch up with the widows of the community that were introduced in book 1. The other widows watch out for Jennie and help her when she needs them. Bess is moving forward with her life and is soon to be married. I enjoyed reading this story. The topic of living in an abusive relationship is not easy to read. The author has done a great job of touching lightly on the subject so we know the struggles Jennie and her family go through. We especially see how her son is affected. For me it is frustrating to know others knew Jennie was living through this but nothing is done to help her. This is a great story of faith. I especially enjoyed the support the widows show for each other. I am really enjoying reading this series and am looking forward to reading the rest of the books. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers. This is my honest review.