AUTUMN WINDS – Charlotte Hubbard
A Perfect 10
Seasons of the Heart , Book 2
ISBN: 978-1-4201-2170-4
September 2012
Amish Inspirational Romance

Willow Ridge, Missouri – Present Day

Ben Hooley isn't a “normal” Amish tradesman. Unable to inherit the family farm, Ben set out many years ago from Lancaster, Pennsylvania in search of his future. He's been content to take his farrier business and wander the country in a wagon pulled by his horse, Pharaoh. In the back of his mind all this time has been the need to settle down, and he's searched for the perfect spot where he and his younger brothers might start a new business.  And so it is that Ben finds himself in Willow Ridge, Missouri, seeking shelter in the midst of a horrendous storm, and lucky that Miriam Lantz is baking bread so early in the day.  Ben and Miriam come together simply by chance, or perhaps by God's design?  From the moment their eyes meet, not even the torrential downpour outside can extinguish the sparks that fly between them.

Unable to sleep at barely one in the morning, Miriam Lantz is working inside her Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe.  The lights go out and a huge limb crashes through the front window. In the darkness, lightening illuminates a rearing monster of a horse and a man right under his flailing hooves. Miriam rushes to his aid and urges him inside out of the rain, hesitating only slightly. She's a woman alone; should she run next door for help? But no, somehow she trusts this stranger. Ben introduces himself as a traveling farrier from Pennsylvania.  Is it fortuitous that Miriam has an empty smithy out back just waiting to be occupied again?

When morning finally dawns, Miriam carries a secret smile. Her business partner, Naomi Brennaman, and even her daughters, Rachel and Rhoda, notice her happiness when they enter the Sweet Seasons to begin their work day. But it isn't long before trouble brews. Bishop Knepp once again calls Miriam to task simply for wanting to stay a single business woman…with an emphasis on “single.” Bishop Hiram Knepp demands that Miriam walk away from her business and wed him, but only so she can clean his house, raise his children, and produce additional siblings!  Never mind the fact that Miriam does not love him!  Miriam is happy now that Ben has come into her life.  She wonders if she can love someone so quickly, but she feels that their God brought Ben to her for a reason, even though he is a few years younger.  However, her happiness is clouded with a small complication: Miriam's daughter, Rhoda, falls head-over-heels for Ben, not realizing her mother already has claim to his affections.

AUTUMN WINDS blow cold and furious in Willow Ridge after Ben Hooley arrives and begins courting Miriam. They don't announce their friendship; that is not the Amish way, but people can't help but notice all the sly smiles and sparks that arise when Ben and Miriam are together! As Miriam prepares for her daughter Rachel's wedding to Micah Brennaman, Bishop Knepp continues stirring up trouble, this time discrediting Ben so he'll be banished from the community.  But there are secrets being kept in Willow Ridge!  Miriam's daughter, computer-savvy Tiffany Oliveri, finds evidence that one of their own is breaking the Amish code of conduct. (Tiffany is Miriam's third triplet, Rebecca, who was raised Englishe; see previous review on our website, SUMMER OF SECRETS, February 2012).  With all the confusion and stress of a wedding to plan, problems in the Willow Ridge Amish community, and the seeds of uncertainty that Bishop Knepp plants about Ben's past, will there be a happy ending? 

AUTUMN WINDS is a top notch story! Every character sparkles (except for grouchy Bishop Knepp!).  Many heartwarming and humorous surprises lie in wait when Ben's family arrives from Pennsylvania.  New to Willow Ridge for the third novel, WINTER OF WISHES, are Ben's brothers, Ira and Luke, who are accompanied by their aunts: Jerusalem and Nazareth, and a herd of mischievous goats!

AUTUMN WINDS is the second novel in the Seasons of the Heart series, following SUMMER OF SECRETS (February 2012). AUTUMN WINDS stands well alone on its own merits, but I urge you not to miss the previous novel.  September 2013 will bring us the third installment, WINTER OF WISHES.  I can't wait to read it!  This series and these very special books will sit proudly on my keeper shelf to visit again and again.  Each book comes with several recipes direct from Miriam's Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe.  In my opinion, there is no greater thing than an outstanding novel and great recipes!  I cannot talk enough about these books; they have made a huge impression on me as the best of the best.  AUTUMN WINDS is an exceptional read and a Perfect 10 all the way!

Diana Risso