BREATH OF SPRING - Charlotte Hubbard
Seasons of the Heart, Book 4
Zebra
ISBN: 978-1-4201-3307-1
May 2014
Amish Inspirational Romance

Willow Ridge, Missouri Present Day

Annie Mae Knepp is frightened and worried about her future.  Ever since she walked out of her father's house, leaving him to clean up the dinner on the table, she and her sister Nellie have been staying in town in the apartment above the smithy.  Now, while Nellie attends school, Annie Mae helps newly married Miriam Hooley in The Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe.  Annie's father, former Bishop Hiram Knepp, has been banished from the Amish community in Willow Ridge.  His once grand home now stands empty, and Hiram has moved Annie's four younger siblings to the new settlement he started, the place he calls Higher Ground, where he can practice his twisted idea of Amish religion.  Annie fears for her siblings, they're so young, and without her or Nellie in the house, who is taking care of them?  When Annie decides to make a surprise visit to Hiram's new home, she ends up stealing away her younger siblings, taking them out of the clutches of an abusive young woman who proclaims herself to be Hiram's new wife.  Annie now has five children to care for; she must find a way to earn a living and raise her brothers and sisters the right way.

Adam Wagler has always had an eye for Annie Mae Knepp, but Annie was the girl the other guys all wanted to date, and most of them managed to step out with her once or twice, so much so that she earned a little bit of a reputation among the Amish teenagers. In spite of her reputation, Annie has never been a wild girl.  She might have been rebellious and wanting to have fun, but she only did what she could to escape her father's over-zealous and stern hand.  When her stepmother died, Hiram treated Annie like nothing more than an unpaid servant, leaving the running of the household and the caring of the children to her, and she was barely seventeen.  The night she walked out of his home, Hiram made it clear that Annie not welcome back.  That was a few months ago, and today, as Annie waits tables at the cafe, she smiles at Adam Wagler.  They grew up next door to each other, and Annie has always liked Adam, but she's sure no man would want her now, not when she has the responsibility of her five brothers and sisters.  That's too much baggage for anyone to handle.  Besides, Annie has made a grave decision that goes against her the tenants of her faith, she will never marry.  Her responsibility is clear; she will raise her family and stay single.

BREATH OF SPRING is the fourth novel in the Seasons of the Heart series by Charlotte Hubbard.  I can't wait for the next book (HARVEST OF BLESSINGS, coming in February 2015, much too far away!).  Ms. Hubbard also writes under the pseudonym of Naomi King, and you can visit her website, www.naomikingauthor.com , for a list of all the other books in the series. (There are a total of four novels and a Christmas anthology, with more to come!)

BREATH OF SPRING does stand alone as its own story; however readers are encouraged to read the series from the beginning to catch up on all the good parts of these charming stories.  There is a lot of back-story here, which is woven in seamlessly.  There is also a plethora of characters who all center around the Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe that's owned by Miriam Hooley, who works there with her three triplets, Rachel, Rhoda, and Rebecca.  Rachel is married now; Rhoda is engaged to an Englischer who is studying to become Amish; and Rebecca was raised Englisch but has found her lost sisters and her birth mother.  Many other delightful secondary characters, too many to mention here, bring us a well rounded and rich background to these stories.

BREATH OF SPRING is Annie's tale about the struggles of a young Amish woman who is forced to set out on her own and make a life for herself and her younger brothers and sisters.  This is a step of great courage for a young Amish woman.  Annie is strong in her faith, but she never again wants to be forced to live under any man's thumb.  Her father ruined that sense of family for her, and even though she dearly loves her brothers and sisters, and will do anything to keep them safe, she will never marry.  Even so, she is happy that Adam is her friend, and though she doesn't push him away altogether, she hesitates to begin a relationship with him.  Annie and Adam can't always see the forest for the trees, as they certainly belong together.  Readers will delight in their romance that is full of emotion, humor, and perseverance.

BREATH OF SPRING is a fresh look at Annie's dilemma: how to do right by her family and find the person who will love her and help make her own life worth living.

Diana Risso