This is the third of Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead novels. Since Mark Riehl’s introduction as the flirty Amish playboy who gave his older brother a bad time about being single, I’ve been certain that his story would be my favorite of this series. It is.
Fully aware of his own charms, but in denial about how his behavior affects others, Mark begins to fall for his employer’s daughter who has returned to their Amish community with a young son and is the one woman who has no interest in him. And as for her, Priscilla Allgyer sees Mark quite clearly and is determined not to fall for another handsome, charming man. As Priscilla tries to establish a safe home for her son, she struggles with meeting her father’s conditions for being accepted back into her childhood home, particularly with the requirement that she get married.
The focus on the slow growing friendship between former acquaintances makes for an enjoyable read, and though the moment when they are caught in a “compromising” situation by Priscilla’s father is a bit farther into the story than expected, it makes their relationship eventually overcoming obstacles and blooming into romance all the more enjoyable.
While this was the most enjoyable book of this series so far, it was not without issues. Many aspects of the story are shallowly treated, some content may leave the reader questioning, the maturity level of the main characters read much lower than mid-twenties, and the almost obligatory character changes towards the end felt rushed and unrealistic.
It has been my experience that Amy Clipston’s contributions to Amish novella collections surpass her longer form novels, but of her novels that I’ve read, this ranks as one of the most enjoyable. Though it is part of a series, it could be read as a stand-alone, but that may diminish the anticipation of reading this story that moves back and forth between Priscilla and Mark’s points of view.
A Seat by the Hearth by Amy Clipston (Amish Homestead, #3) | Zondervan, November 2018 | paperback, 352 pages
This review refers to an Advance Reader’s Copy I voluntarily received from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
From the publisher:
Priscilla Allgyer knows she cannot leave the past behind. But can love lead her toward the promise of healing?
Priscilla Allgyer left the community to escape the expectations of Amish life. Now, years later, she is forced to return—along with her six-year-old son—to the place she thought she’d left behind forever. Though once estranged from her family, Priscilla is welcomed by her mother, but her father is cold and strict. He allows Priscilla to stay with them provided she dresses plainly, confesses her sins, and agrees to marry within the community. Once again, she feels suffocated, trapped, and alone.
As Priscilla reluctantly completes her shunning, she catches the eye of Mark Riehl, a farmer with a playboy reputation. Wary of Mark, Priscilla barely gives him the time of day—while Mark, unused to being ignored by the women of Bird-in-Hand, won’t give up the pursuit of her friendship. Priscilla desperately needs a friend in Mark, even if she doesn’t realize it—and after Priscilla’s father and the bishop catch her and Mark in a compromising situation, their relationship becomes more complicated than ever.
As affection quietly grows between them, Priscilla struggles to open her heart and reveal the painful secrets of her past. As Mark works to earn her good faith, can they both learn the hard lessons of love and trust? And can two friends discover a happiness that only God himself could have designed? The third book in the Amish Homestead series, A Seat by the Hearth invites us back to the Lancaster community where friendships are forged and love overcomes all.