Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review: Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall

Book Details
Title: Christmas in Apple Ridge (Three-in-One Collection)
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
2012, Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 978-0-307-73099-2
Genre: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction

Book Summary
Experience the holidays with the Plain folk of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania, in these touching novellas centered around love, romance, heartache, and restoration from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy, but when she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds. Determined that her niece meet the gifted artist, her aunt tracks him down, but it’s not that simple – will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love?

The Christmas Singing
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Brokenhearted, Mattie moves away and pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator, and even finds a new beau. But when Mattie is forced to return home three years later, will learning the truth behind Gideon’s rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?
The Dawn of Christmas
Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together?

My Review
What a delightful collection of novellas by Cindy Woodsmall! I didn’t realized when I first requested this book, that I had already read the third installment as a stand alone. I was pleasantly surprised that I had the first two books in the collection and could fill in some of the blanks left by reading that last book out of order.

Although I think you could read any one of these novellas as a stand alone, I got a lot of enjoyment from reading them like this. The author weaves the lives of the characters from The Sound of Sleigh Bells into the story of the second book, The Christmas Singing. Both sets of characters are then mentioned and referred to in the third book, The Dawn of Christmas.

All of these stories are told by the POV of the two main characters. Sometimes there is a secondary character who is brought to our attention by having a voice, but it is mostly the two main characters from each novella.

Each story highlights a struggle of some kind – in love. Each woman was hurt or betrayed at some point by the man she loved and afraid of love. She each chooses a different way to deal with it. Beth Hertzler throws herself into working in her aunts dry good store, Mattie moves away to live with her brother and open a specialty cakes shop and Sadie moves away and goes on missions trips.

Although I felt the women had very similar issues, their stories all resolved themselves in completely different ways and the men they ultimately fell in love with were all very different from one another. Each had a different story of redemption and I was surprised that I enjoyed each story so much and didn’t get tired of the repetition.

Of course, each novel is immersed in Amish culture and I am a sucker for good Amish fiction. This was an excellent collection and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves Amish fiction.

More Info:
Read my previous review of The Dawn of Christmas.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Press for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

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