THE PROMISE OF PALM GROVE – Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish Brides of Pinecraft , Book 1
Wintertime in Sunny Florida
As her wedding day neared, Leona Weaver's doubts began to grow as her fiancé became more and more controlling and less willing to listen to her thoughts and ideas. She had thought to love him when she agreed to marry him, but she's beginning to realize that is not to be. But it's too late now; preparations are under way; the day is fast approaching. Before her chance to ever be happy disappears altogether in the face of duty, Leona's going to have two weeks of vacation with her two best friends. The girls will be taking the bus from Ohio and traveling to the Amish community of Pinecraft near Sarasota, Florida. Leona has never told anyone about her doubts; they must never know how unworthy she is, nor can she hurt anyone.
So what's going to happen? On their first tour of the town, the threesome see three local boys laughing together while one climbs a tree to rescue a cat. The rescuer is named Zack, and he's handsome and charming and has a caring heart. Zack is a natural caretaker; he spends much of his days minding his young sister who has a crippling disease. Leona agrees to spend time with him even knowing such happiness can only be for a few days.
Pinecraft is a welcoming community, somewhat freer than other Amish places. Leona, her cousin Sara, and Mattie, her soon to be sister-in-law, have new colorful dresses made just for this trip. They stay at a bed and breakfast inn where friends gather for afternoon tea, and they fit right in. The place is run by Beverly Overholt, who inherited the Orange Blossom Inn from her aunt after she moved to Florida from Sugarcreek, Ohio to mend a broken heart. Every so often, a chapter is devoted to Beverly's tale to be continued throughout the series. The whole is a rich and inspiring story with a heartwarming conclusion.
Readers of THE PROMISE OF PALM GROVE are sure to become engaged by the plight of Leona and Zack and the many other well drawn, likeable characters. And the peek at the next novel in the series in the back of the book tells us we have more pleasure to look forward to.