by Sandra Murphy
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Shunned and Dangerous.
In Heavenly, Pennsylvania, the Amish live in peace and harmony, or at least that’s the goal. Strife and problems can arise anywhere though. Claire Weatherly is English and not Amish. She owns Heavenly Treasures, a store that sells crafts made by the Amish. Unfortunately, the items that sell and are fastest to make are all small which means her sales totals are small too. She’s in danger of losing the store and is sick at heart about it. She hasn’t even told her Aunt Diane yet, owner of the local B&B for those seeking the Amish experience.
There is good news though. Esther, her assistant in the store, and Eli are getting married. On the other hand, an Amish woman does not hold a job outside the home once she’s married. Claire will miss her daily visits with Esther and is also worried that if no farm land is available in Heavenly, Esther and Eli will be forced to move to another Amish community.
Claire has long been attracted to two Amish men, Benjamin and Jakob. The men used to be friends until Jakob’s intended married Benjamin instead. Jakob left the Amish community after baptism which means he is now shunned by his neighbors, friends and most hurtfully, his family.
For now, Claire will focus on what she can do, not what she can’t. One thing she enjoys is a good puzzle and Mose Fischer (Jakob’s father) has built a corn maze with a harder maze in the middle. Claire is certain she can solve it and come out the other side. It was a good plan until she came across the body of Harley Zook, an Amish dairy farmer.
Jakob is the local police so it will be very difficult to investigate a murder that occurred on his father’s farm, especially since Mose and Harley didn’t get along, and Mose was vocal about it. Still, there are other suspects. The young man who worked for Harley is a prime candidate.
It takes a deft hand to weave background stories that hold a reader’s attention as well as move the plot along to catch the murderer. Laura Bradford does a fine job of this. As readers, we care about Diane’s B&B, her guests, Esther and Eli, the hint of romance with Benjamin and more than a hint with Jakob, and worry what will happen if Heavenly Treasures has to close its doors.
The Amish community and the way of thinking is a character too, with information woven seamlessly into the storyline.
I think this is the best in the series yet, as Claire has to face what she really wants in life and how far she’s come since her arrival in Heavenly, Pennsylvania.
To enter to win a copy of Shunned and Dangerous, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Shunned,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 21, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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