From the publisher:
Second chances and the Christmas spirit abound in Mindy Steele’s heartwarming novel, one of faith, love, and the power of community.
Grace Miller believed herself in love with the charming Englischer who eventually broke her heart. Now alone except for the secret life growing inside her, she arrives in the unfamiliar small village of Walnut Ridge, Kentucky, to hide and hopefully gain forgiveness.
She is pleasantly surprised, however, to find a tight-knit, welcoming group who help her heart grow right alongside her belly. And with the holidays around the corner, there’s plenty of preparations to occupy her mind. Also occupying her mind? Her strong, protective neighbor, Cullen Graber, the town’s blacksmith, who seems intent on not allowing her to ever suffer alone.
Cullen Graber gave up on love after too many losses early in life. He planned to live out his days focusing on his smithy business, yet the beautiful and mysterious Grace refuses to leave his thoughts. But can they open their hearts to God’s grace and create a new family together before Grace must return home?
I haven’t read an Amish romance for a while, and this story felt rather unique. Grace lived in an Amish community in Indiana, and fell in love with a man from outside the community. But when she got pregnant, he left her, which meant he left her alone to deal with her family and her church. This particular community is very strict, and her father is even stricter. She is forced to admit her sins in front of the community and is shunned by her family. She is very close with her sisters and is heartbroken when her father sends her away to live in a small Amish community in Kentucky, where his sister, her spinster aunt, lives.
Grace arrives and her aunt takes her to a cabin up on top of a steep hill. It is not in the best shape, to say the least. It’s basically one filthy room with a broken front door. But Grace is determined to make the best of things, and her aunt procures her a job in the bakery in town. Grace loves to bake, and that is the only pleasant thing in her life at the moment.
But when Grace doesn’t show up for her first day of work, her aunt and her neighbor come looking for her. Cullen, her neighbor, can’t understand why Grace’s husband would allow her to live in such a shack and why he isn’t there, working on fixing it up. Instead, they find Grace hiding behind the bed, and a dead dog nearby. She was attacked by a pack of wild dogs, and somehow saved herself.
Cullen is impressed with her bravery and ingenuity, but feels sorry for the mother-to-be, and that’s before he finds out she doesn’t have a husband. But in this small town, no one is shunning her. Sure, her aunt isn’t too friendly or helpful, but she is under strict orders from her brother to do nothing for his pregnant daughter.
As Grace meets women in the town, she is shocked to find them so accepting of her sin and condition, and she starts forming friendships with them. Her neighbor, Cullen, is always around fixing up the cabin for for her and delivering her firewood. There is an attraction there, but Grace can’t believe this handsome man with a heart of gold could possibly be interested in a sinner like her.
Cullen has been hurt before and has decided to live out his life alone. Every single woman in their community has been after him at one point or another, but as kind as he is, he is determined to keep his heart safe. Until he meets Grace. She manages to worm her way into his heart even as he fights it every step of the way.
Once the baby is born, around Christmas, Grace is supposed to go back home again. Her father has arranged a marriage for her with an older widower with a child. Grace knows the man and can’t imagine being married to him, but she is a dutiful daughter and believes she has no choice in the matter. But Cullen gives her a choice, and they find their happily ever after.
There is quite a bit of drama before the happy ending in this sweet, Amish romance. I liked learning about the differences between Amish communities, and how they live their lives. I liked the whole idea of second chances in such a strict religion, and these characters made it all work. The Christmas season just added to the joy eventually found here. This author was new to me, and I hope to read more of her books.
11/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
CHRISTMAS GRACE by Mindy Steele. Entangled: Amara (October 26, 2021). ISBN: 978-1682815113. 352 pages.