About the Book:
You’ll be swept away by the endearing characters created by award-winning author Anna Schmidt. On the heels of a horrific hurricane, Hester Detweiler, field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service, blows into the life of self-made, shunned Amish man John Steiner. Will she find a way through his shield and into his heart? Although the hurricane has left John homeless and badly injured, the last thing he wants is some do-gooder Mennonite woman intruding in his life. Will his impatience with her intention of restoring his faith and property keep him from accepting this beguiling stranger’s kindness?
Even though you are reading this in late October, I read the book the weekend of Tropical Storm Lee, which also happened to be close to the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, so it fit right in with what was happening. We watch Hester prepare for the Hurricane and then help people get back on their feet afterwards. We see politicians come in, including John's aunt, who is in Congress. I liked it when she said that coming in for photo ops is what politicians do "when the media pushes our buttons and we don't know what else to do" (remember this is a galley and the final wording may be different).
Hester is an Mennonite who dresses much like the Amish but lives in a house with electricity and has a college education. Her people worship in churches, whereas the Amish worship in homes. Hester is an anomaly among her closely-knit people--a woman in leadership, a woman with a position outside the home (even though she is a volunteer and not paid). She is an old maid more due to circumstances than choice. John was raised Amish but went his own way. He is determined to show that he can live without other people.
In a lot of ways, the book is a study in contrasts. John has two books he saves during the Hurricane--Walden Pond and The Bible. John rejects people; Hester is always trying to help. Neither of them really fit in. Both need to heal.
I thought the characters in the book were well done as were the descriptions of life after a major storm. It's a romance novel so I figured out pretty quickly where it was going, but you read books like this for the ride, not the destination. Grade: B.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. I was not obligated to write a positive review (or any review at all).