As with the previous Amish novella collections from these, and occasionally other, authors, this was a set of sweet, charming tales centered around a season and themes of love, hope, and faith. This particular collection also includes a theme of acceptance.
Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman features a family of women, Naomi Stoltzfus, her mother Barbara, and grandmother Ruth. The story starts as three men arrive to move into the smaller house (daadi haus) as renters for the month of December. Ruth, who has been on the prowl practically from the moment she was widowed, is quick to point out that these men are the perfect ages to be romantic interests for Naomi, herself, her widowed daughter in law. Not everything turns out as initially expected, with acceptance being one of several running themes.
Amy Clipston’s The Christmas Cat almost had me thinking we were going to have some Amish Magical Realism, as the large tabby of the title adopts Emma Bontrager and continually sits in her deceased husband’s chairs. Her first Christmas without Harry, after 45 years of marriage, is off to a rocky start until four young members of the community arrive with Christmas dinner. Emma revisits memories of meeting, courting, and marrying with Harry as two of her guests continue a budding relationship, and one of the others contemplates a new possibility.
Characters from her Bee County Amish families are featured in Kelly Irvin’s Snow Angels, though reading her Bee County books is not a prerequisite to enjoying this tale. David Byler has some growing up to do and an important decision to make between the Englischer he loved during his Rumspringa and the shy and respectable Amish woman he has been courting for a year. Torn between the two, David must choose whether or not he will give up his family, community and faith for a past love.
Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid had one of the most unexpected characters in Ellie Whetstone. Returning to the Amish community 25 years after her mother took her away, 30 year old Ellie is surprised by the help and welcome she receives rather than the rejection her mother always told her she would face. Traveling in an RV with a champion poodle, Lulu, her initial encounter with neighbor Ezra Mast does not get off to a good start – except between Lulu and five year old Allison. I enjoyed this storyline with Ellie intending to sell her deceased Aentie’s house and the interaction between her and Ezra, as well as with other members of the community, though a life changing decision that she makes towards the end of the story seemed a bit sudden and not well considered.
Of this quartet of heart-warming Amish Christmas novellas, Winter Kisses is quite possibly my favorite. I quite enjoyed all three women’s story arcs, with Ruth winning me over immediately and the others soon after. Overall, though, this is a solid collection of Amish stories themed around the Christmas season.
If you enjoy Amish fiction, sweet romances, and reading seasonal stories, this collection of four novellas with more than twice the romantic possibilities is a great choice.
An Amish Christmas Love: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, Kelly Irvin | Thomas Nelson, September 2017 | paperback, 400 pages
This review refers to a finished copy I voluntarily received through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild. All opinions expressed are my own.
From the Publisher:
Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman
Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons—a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.
The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston
Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don’t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma’s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry’s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.
Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin
As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn’t give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He’s found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discovery: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly’s prayers for a Christmas love be answered?
Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid
When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?