• Reviews by Anne Blackburne

    Time for some Amish Book Reviews!

    I’ve read a number of good Amish romances and sweet Amish mysteries lately, but I haven’t had time to review them for a few weeks. So here is a catch-up post!

    Amish Snowbirds by Barbara Cameron

    I recently read “Amish Snowbirds” by Barbara Cameron, a novella that takes place in the Sarasota, Florida area in the Amish town of Pinecraft. Lots of Amish folks head there every winter to get a break from the northern cold. I’ve now read two books set there; “Amish Snowbirds” and Wanda Brunstetter’s collection, written with three of her family members, “Sisters by the Sea”.

    I enjoyed both books a lot! But I digress. “Amish Snowbirds” deals with a young Amish woman who is running away from an unpleasant situation back home, and a young man who lives year-round in Pinecrest with his grandfather. They meet, and love blooms. But Lizzie must find the courage to tell Eli what it is that haunts her back home. Will her trust issues end their promising relationship before it really begins? By the way, now that I’ve read these two books, I’ve added Pinecraft to my bucket list places to visit! I’m hoping to get there next winter. Maybe after that I’ll set a story of my own there!

    Wife on His Doorstep, by Patricia Johns

    I just finished reading Patricia Johns’ book, “Wife on His Doorstep,” from Love Inspired. In this story, Mirium Lapp and her estranged husband, Amos, must figure out whether it is a lack of love keeping them from living together happily, or simply a lack of understanding.

    At the beginning of the story, Mirium, who was raised by her successful, businessman father to be able to run a business empire, arrives unannounced on her husband’s doorstep, in search of some documents which she needs to claim the one business left to her by her father. It seems that after spending years teaching Mirium to be a businesswoman, her father decided she shouldn’t be one after all, and left everything else to his son.

    Determined to have something of her own, she goes home, where she finds her husband caring for his dying grandmother; a woman Mirium loves dearly. She agrees to stay and help care for the elderly lady, fully understanding that matchmaking is in the plan; a plan to reunite a husband and wife who have more in common than they both think. This is a very good book — no surprise from Patricia Johns. And the ending is really satisfying!

    Agatha’s Amish B&B Series, Books One – Three, by Vanetta Chapman

    One of my favorites recently was Vanetta Chapman’s cozy mystery series set in Texas, “Agatha’s Amish B&B” stories. First up was “Dead Wrong” in which we meet Agatha and her neighbor, ex-detective Tony Vargas. The two work together, along with Agatha’s housekeeper and friend, to solve the murder of a guest. The second book, The second and third books are “Dead Broke” and “Dead Set”. This is a really good series, and for fans of Chapman who have read her other Amish mysteries, you’ll get to reconnect with an old friend – a character from a previous series! I highly recommend this series. I hope she writes more books in it. Vannetta’s sweet Amish mysteries have given me ideas about writing sweet Amish mysteries of my own! Watch for more on that in the future!

    The Courtship Basket, by Amy Clipston

    Finally, I read “The Courtship Basket” by Amy Clipston. This book is part of a series, but can be read as a stand-alone. Rachel has been dumped by her boyfriend for her best friend! A double betrayal that is twice as hard to take. Meanwhile, Mike is struggling to raise his much younger brother as their father has become too infirm to do so. They meet when Rachel becomes the child’s teacher…and the attraction is instant. But they struggle against it! A family heirloom picnic basket brings them together. I loved this story, and plan to read the other books in the series.

    In fact, Amy Clipston may just be a new favorite author for me! This is a happy thing, as we are included together with authors Mindy Steele and Amy Lillard in a collection of Christmas novellas coming out September 1 called “A Lancaster Amish Christmas“! What an honor for me! And isn’t the cover stunning? I’m nearly finished editing my story. Here’s a hint; it’s about Lucy, a young Amish woman raising her little sister, who has Down Syndrome. When she made the decision to do so, her “almost fiancée”, John Zook, dumped her like a hot brick and married someone else. That’s fine with Lucy; why would she want a man who thought she would give up her beloved sister just to get married? She’s perfectly happy on her own, thank you very much. Then along comes handsome, compassionate and accepting hardware store owner Amos Fisher. And Lucy might just be ready to consider taking another chance on love!

    So if you’re looking for a new Amish romance or mystery author, look no further. These books are all good, and I think you’ll be happy with any of them.

  • Life Outside the Pages

    “The Darcy Secret”, a “Pride & Prejudice” Variation

    Author Kelly Miller Delivers Another Terrific Jane Austen Variation!

    I just finished reading author Kelly Miller’s latest Austenesque variation on Pride & Prejudice, “The Darcy Secret”. I love all of Austen’s classic romances, and Pride & Prejudice is in my top three.

    Miller has written a number of variations on this and Austen’s other novels. I recommend checking them out. They’re all available from Amazon.com.

    I wish Jane Austen had lived another ten or twenty years and published another ten or twenty books! But since she didn’t, the next best thing is reading well-executed books based on Austen’s works and characters.

    Unlike the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies series – which I loved, I have to admit – Miller’s variations stick pretty much with canon. She takes a few risks and sends the characters down roads the reader doesn’t expect. But for the most part, I’m always happy and satisfied with what happens in each, stand-alone variation.

    In “The Darcy Secret”, the reader begins the story learning about a terrible legacy which Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy will have to deal with. He only learns the terrible truth upon the eve of his wedding to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

    Can he go through with the wedding? Will Elizabeth still want him?

    Additionally, suspicion is cast upon Darcy’s young sister, Georgiana; is she hiding a violent streak in her personality? Has she even committed . . . murder?

    What happens when an old flame of Darcy’s makes inappropriate, drunken suggestions to Darcy in front of Elizabeth?

    And what happens when an old friend of Darcy’s decides he’d make Elizabeth a better husband than Darcy?

    Finally, our characters have to deal with a terrible tragedy in the loss of a family member. Who is it, and how does it happen?

    You’ll have to read “The Darcy Secret” to learn the answers to all of these questions. You won’t be sorry – it’s a fast-paced, easy-to-read tale that will grip you from beginning to end.

    Once you find out what an excellent storyteller Miller is, be sure to look up her backlist. My personal favorite is her “Persuasion” variation, titled “Captive Hearts”.

    You’ve got some thrilling, satisfying hours of reading ahead of you with Kelly Miller! Enjoy!