Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Review: The Captive Heart

I was absolutely thrilled when I had the opportunity to read and review the sequel to Dale Cramer's Paradise Valley which you can read about here.  I loved the first novel and was anxious to hear how Caleb Bender and his family were doing in the new Amish settlement in Paradise Valley, Mexico.  The Captive Heart exceeded my expectations and left me longing for (hopefully) the next book in the series. 

We left the Bender family in the previous novel where a couple families from the old settlement in Ohio had finally come to Paradise Valley.  Joy filled the air with the birth of babies and the arrival of a love thought lost.  The Captive Heart begins shortly thereafter as the new families begin to adapt to the new surroundings in Mexico, settle their homesteads, and new relationships bloom between Caleb's daughters and the new arrivals.  Rachel is forever in love with Jake who is proving himself to be a man of his word, a man of passion, and forever in love with Rachel as well.  Miriam is torn between the love of her family- therefore the potential marriage to Micah- and the love in her heart for Domingo.  Domingo has a heart for the Bender family, but respectful stands back in his pursuit of Miriam because of the 'fences' that surround their potential courtship and marriage.  Just when you think you are reading a sweet romance novel in the peaceful Mexican countryside, the bandits return to the area and begin to bring havoc and chaos and despair to the growing Amish settlement. 

Disease, hardship, death, and an unlikely hero bring this story to dramatic points.  I am not one to get emotional over a book, but I had myself teary eyed as the book climaxed into an event I would have never imagined.  Then in brilliant stroke of writing, Cramer takes what you thought was the climax to a bridge to a new climax and hopefully another book in the series.

The storytelling in this book I believe surpassed the previous novel.  The story lines were unique, but yet in the popular and familiar Amish concepts.  I loved the intrigue and drama of this novel that only whispered the underlying cultural and religious tones of the Amish.  It even begs a great debate over the line of rules and grace, love and legalism, tradition and family.  An excellent novel and I eagerly await the next installment! 

Thank you Bethany House for giving me this book to review.  I was not compensated other than a free copy of this book for the review.  All thoughts and critiques are my own.

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