SUMMER OF SECRETS Charlotte Hubbard
Seasons of the Heart Book 1
A Perfect 10
Zebra
ISBN: 978-1-4201-2169-8
February 2012
Amish Inspirational Romance

Willow Ridge, Missouri Present Day

While working at her mother's diner in the Amish community of Willow Ridge, Rachel Lantz waits on an Englisher girl dressed all in black.  But it isn't her clothing that makes Rachel uncomfortable; under the girl's heavy makeup, Rachel is looking into her own eyes set in her own face, just as if she were looking into a mirror.  She rushes back into the kitchen to tell her mother, only to watch in surprised shock as Miriam hurries back out into the dining room.

Tiffany Oliveri has no idea that she has wandered into a diner owned by her birth mother.  It was only yesterday that her father told her she was adopted, and only a week ago that she lost the woman whom she thought was her real mother to cancer.  Now, this Amish woman, Miriam, is telling Tiffany that her name is Rebecca and she was lost in a flood when she was three years old, supposedly carried downstream by a tree, and thought dead until now.  Tiffany is confused and runs out of the diner, leaving the Amish patrons sitting inside buzzing with the news that Miriam Lantz has a daughter returned from the dead, and she is an Englisher!

Outside, Rachel screams at Tiffany, telling the girl never to darken their door again, nor upset their mother.  Rachel knows she's wrong.  Her sister, Rhoda, is equally shocked to learn they are not simply twins, but born as triplets with a sister they never knew existed!

And while the community speculates about the lost Lantz daughter, Miriam makes secret plans to break the ordnung (the Amish code of rules for behavior), and seek out Bob Oliveri, the man who raised her daughter, in the next town of Morning Star .  Meanwhile, Rachel's intended, Micah Brenneman, is making his own plans to bring Tiffany back to Miriam, something that could get him shunned from their community if he is caught.

SUMMER OF SECRETS is a gripping story of family lost, and found.  Young Tiffany has had her entire world upset with the death of her adopted mother and the realization that the people who raised her were not her real parents.  Even the day she celebrates as her birthday is not real!  Tiffany is bitter and angry, finding herself straddling two worlds, the one she grew up in, and the other one as alien as if it was a planet away.  And Miriam Lantz is fighting her own war.  The Amish are strictly forbidden to socialize with Englishers, lest these people taint their carefully ordered way of life, but Miriam refuses to listen to the brethren of their community, the four men responsible for their spiritual well being.  She will see her daughter, no matter the cost.  The brethren have declared that Miriam is lost to the ways of the devil since her husband Jesse died two years ago.  Bishop Hiram Knepp orders her to sell her diner and marry.  Of course, Miriam knows he is really telling her she must marry him and give up her livelihood and her independence!  Not only will selling the diner take away Miriam's income, it will devastate several other families who work with her.  The return of the lost Lantz daughter starts a whirlwind of speculation in the Willow Ridge community as everyone watches and waits to see the outcome.  It's Miriam's independence and life against that of the brethren of the church, and like it or not, she must trust in God to help her, as she must obey the Bishop's wishes.

Rachel and Micah have not declared their intention to marry, but it is their carefully guarded secret until they announce their plan, which they will do shortly before the wedding date.  But Rachel is having second thoughts about Micah when she learns that he has been to Morning Star to visit Tiffany, or Rebecca, or whatever she is calling herself these days.  Rachel saw the way Micah looked at her sister when she came to the diner; he was mesmerized.  Rachel worries that she has lost his love to the excitement the English girl might offer him, even if she is her own sister.  What happens if Micah is banished from the community?

SUMMER OF SECRETS is the first in a new trilogy,  Seasons of the Heart , and is followed by AUTUMN WINDS (September 2012) and WINTER OF WISHES (September 2013).  SUMMER OF SECRETS is peopled with dynamic characters and a charismatic and unusual plot that's full of secrets and betrayal. Rachel, Rhoda, and Miriam must find it in their hearts to accept Tiffany/Rebecca for who she is and how she was raised.  Tiffany is a confused young woman who has a long road ahead of her.  She gets to know her birth family and their ways, while learning how to forgive the man who pulled her out of the river long ago and raised her as his own.  SUMMER OF SECRETS is heartwarming and like a warm blanket, and it's absolutely the best book I have read this year.  It is definitely a Perfect 10!

Diana Risso