For years Zane Beck and his Amish neighbour Lila Lehman were best of friends. But just as Zane gathered the courage to discover if their friendship could develop into something more, her controlling father arranged for her to be courted by their bishop's son. Zane, heartbroken and frustrated, joined the Army, running away from his shattered dreams.
The passing of time and the distance between Zane and Lila haven't been enough to halt their -- now completely hidden -- feelings for each other. Any hope for their love grows even more impossible through as Zane's service takes a dangerous turn when he's deployed to Afghanistan. Being on the frontline, confronted with the hard choices of war, has him questioning everything, including whether he can continue to serve or not. But all choices have consequences, and with Lila preparing to marry another, will these one-time sweethearts ever find the life together that they both still long for?
Not your average Amish story. Gould takes her characters on an unexpected (and complicated) journey towards self-discovery and I was right there with them every step of the way. I loved all the little unpredictable things about this story. I mean, it could have gone in so many different directions with varying outcomes and I never knew what was going to happen next. Loved the thrill of the unknown and taking the opportunity to savor a scene while letting my imagination run free to create my own scenarios before pushing on with the story the author had written. Love being that invested in the lives of my character friends!
If you read Amish Promises, the first book in the Neighbors of Lancaster County series, you will already be acquainted with the Becks and the Lehmans. It's not necessary to have read the first book in order to enjoy this one, but you will have more of a sense of history between the two families if you have.
So -- Zane. Stubborn. Proud. Closed-mouthed. Not to mention the impulsive-lets-not-think-this-through mentality that crops up at the most inconvenient places. And Lila. She's the glue that holds her ragtag family together. So determined to do the right thing that she often forgets that she has choices too. There's nothing more awkward than a childhood friendship on the cusp of something so much bigger. Do the risks outweigh the benefits? And then there's the whole Amish/Englisch issue. So many delicious dilemmas for a reader to lose herself in!
I really enjoyed the author's insights into the Afghanistan war. She tackles hard questions with grace and respect and that whole aspect of the novel really got me thinking. It's a conundrum Zane finds himself in the middle of -- and adds a whole new dynamic to his relationship with his Amish neighbours.
A riveting read fueled with love and faith and the unending hope that comes from being part of God's plan.
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of Amish Sweethearts please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 29 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!