WINTER OF WISHES – Charlotte Hubbard
Seasons of the Heart , Book 3
Amish Inspirational Romance
Willow Ridge, Missouri – Present Day
Rhoda Lantz is at odds for the first time in her life. Her mother, Miriam, is marrying Ben Hooley, their wedding right on the heels of her sister Rachel's wedding to Micah Brennaman. Soon Rhoda will be all alone in the apartment above the blacksmith shop, and even though she loves working in her mother's cafe, The Sweet Seasons Bakery, she would like to do something different. She's worked alongside her mother and Naomi Brennaman ever since they opened the business. Rhoda feels bereft. She doesn't know where to turn or what to do, until she spots an ad on the bulletin board in Zook's market. An Englisch man is advertising for a caregiver.
Andy Leitner needs help. His wife walked out on him several years ago, and his mother recently had a stroke, leaving her barely able to care for herself, let alone the children. Andy is in his final year of nursing school while he finishes his internship. He needs someone to be at the house to help his mother, and sit for his children after school. Impressed with Rhoda's personality and her Amish ways, Andy hires her on the spot. As the days go by, Rhoda and Andy end up spending a lot of time together while Rhoda's simple straight-forward manner bring subtle, but improved changes to his household. Andy's mother once again looks forward to waking up each morning and getting dressed instead of staying in her robe, depressed and sullen. Rhoda has charmed the children, seven-year-old Brett and nine-year-old Taylor. And by not meaning to, Rhoda has captivated Andy as well, which quickly leads them into trouble when they voice their feelings for each other. Andy is forbidden territory for Rhoda; he's Englisch and unmarried. Before she knows it, Rhoda is in trouble with the church, something which can get her excommunicated.
Bishop Hiram Knepp is still under the ban for his misdeeds (AUTUMN WINDS, September 2012), but in his mean and nasty way, he is determined to make Rhoda's life miserable after he hears that she rode home in Andy's car unescorted and kissed him. The Englisch and Amish worlds are too far apart; there can be no bridge to breach the gap. But even though Rhoda has accepted the fact that she can no longer see Andy or his family, Andy is not so passive. He is determined to find a way they can be together.
WINTER OF WISHES is a delightful addition to the Seasons of the Heart series, and Rhoda's story is fresh and new. There are lots of activities going on in Willow Ridge besides Rhoda and Andy's relationship problems. Rhoda's mother, Miriam, is preparing for her wedding; Bishop Hiram Knepp is causing trouble for everyone in the community, and Miriam's third triplet, her daughter Tiffany Oliveri, aka Rebecca, will end up saving the day. (Rebecca was raised Englisch, see SUMMER OF SECRETS, February 2012). There are lots of other secondary characters from the previous books, the Hooley sisters, Ben and his brothers, Naomi and her daughter Hannah, the Zooks, and many more. I can't tell you how, but this terrific story, with all its twists and turns, has a wonderful and unusual ending.
The third novel in the Seasons of the Heart series, WINTER OF WISHES follows the previously mentioned books in this review, while the story stands alone on its own merits. I do recommend you seek out all of the books if you haven't read the series yet. I can't wait to read the next book in this very special series with all the luscious recipes found at the end of each story so you can create Miriam's great dishes from the Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe. Make WINTER OF WISHES a must for your next market list!