But Who Will care about the Children?
If you are looking for a romance book that is extremely chaste and never wades into any kind of inappropriate territory, this one’s for you. No steamy scenes because, well, this book is about an Amish community so it fits that there’s no heavy petting. Ever wondered what an Amish romance book was like? Nope, me neither. At least, not until I heard they existed. Guess what? They’re pretty much like other romances except, much, much tamer. I have no problem with the romance part of this book, or the Amish part of this book. I wouldn’t want to live in a community without electricity or buttons, but if that’s what floats your boat, float away.
That’s not to say that there weren’t things about this book that bugged me. I’m gonna list ’em after a quick plot summary.
Jenny, the main character is recovering from a difficult surgery she had to have after suffering a bomb blast while doing her job as a journalist overseas. To recuperate she visits her grandmother Phoebe who happens to be Amish and live in Lancaster County. While there she reconnects with Mathew, a man she knew long ago and nearly married. Mathew married while Jenny was away and had three children. Mathew’s wife died and it’s been a couple years since that happened. Now would be a good time for Mathew to move on and as luck (or God as the book states) would have it, Jenny seems to come back at the perfect time. Everyone ends up happy because, well, what do you expect out of an Amish romance?
My annoyance with the book is as follows:
- Jenny is a a journalist working for [unnamed network] recovering from a bomb blast she suffered in [unnamed country]. I put the brackets there because the author chose not to actually name the network or the country. Jenny was always overseas. What was she doing overseas? She was making sure that [the people] knew that there were children there who were suffering. I think this was mentioned roughly twelve times per chapter.
- Is there an adorable little kid in this book meant to tug at Jenny’s and the reader’s heart strings and says things like “Read me a stowy.” Oh you betcha. It’s like the plucky kid in apocalypse novels but you just know they are going to make people get married in romances, not get themselves killed the way they do in the other books.
- This is an Amish community we are talking about and Jenny is there recovering which is fine, but they keep talking about how much hard work there is to do. Yet Jenny, who more or less recovers doesn’t seem to do any hard work. She does try and cook one meal but I kind of think the author sold it short cause I am sure that there really IS hard labor to do in these places.
- It’s mentioned like a zillion times how the Amish children are so good and clean their rooms and do their chores and help out and never, ever complain. I have two thoughts about this. First, I bet that some Amish children DO complain on occasion. Why? Cause they are kids and sometimes kids complain. Second, there are plenty of non-Amish children that are good. But the author bludgeons us about how lazy the “Englisch” (the Amish term for people living outside their community) children are because they watch television. I sort of felt, more than once, like the author had not really interacted with real children over the age of three.
- Jenny has suffered what would be a real, major trauma. I mean life changing. She is described as being scarred across the face. She is constantly fretting about this. Of course Mathew and everyone around Jenny who all love her think it’s no big deal. I agree. Having a scar on your face doesn’t disqualify you from love. It doesn’t mean you are not beautiful. It doesn’t mean that anyone should think less of you. But you know what bugs me to no end? Look at that cover image. You know what I don’t see? A Scar!!! Come on cover designers, own it! I doubt this was the choice of the author so I can’t fault her but jeeze, let’s judge this book by it’s cover. Jenny should have a scar. Have the guts to put it on the cover. Okay, I am getting off of my body image soap box now.
- Another thing Jenny agonizes over is that if she doesn’t go back to work for [unnamed network] then no one, and I mean no one, will ever care about the children in [unnamed country]. Jenny is quasi famous and people on the street recognize her now and then. She is occasionally told by nurses or other random people how no one has gone back there. No journalist has gone back overseas (interesting how everyone on the street calls it overseas too instead of naming a country) to talk about the children. So her choice seems to be Mathew or go to [unnamed network] to work again. But Jenny’s colleague has this idea to interview her so the audience of [unnamed network] can see that she is okay. She does the interview and when it airs, they put a few charity phone numbers on screen. In Jenny’s mind that seems to clear the problem up. Yup, want to help out orphans in war torn [unnamed countries]? Two options. First. Jenny. Second, phone numbers on a screen. Either one will most definitely fix it.
- While cooking the one meal that Jenny makes, she tells Phoebe about microwaves. She says that microwaved food doesn’t taste as good because they don’t put love into the food the way her grandmother does. Note to self: invent microwave that operates on love. Also, I don’t know about you but I’ve loved me some hot pockets and microwave pizza rolls on occasion and no one’s grandmother made those.
- Mathew works very hard and loves his children. This is perfectly obvious from the descriptions of what he does and it’s no surprise. We wouldn’t want our main character to fall for a jerk of course. But not only do we have to see that revealed through his actions. No, everyone around him has to say pretty much every time he leaves the room how he works hard and loves his children. I think we get it.
- Since this is a romance, there has to be a setup for a continuing series. I think that’s a contractual obligation for even thinking of a romance concept. I’ve got good news. Mathew has a sister, Hannah. She’s Amish and lives in Lancaster County. Hmmm…. You don’t think… I mean could it be… Wait guys, it is, it really is… The sequel is about Hannah! Groan. It couldn’t be more obvious if they had put Hannah’s phone number on the television screen during an interview. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, Hannah wouldn’t watch television and it’s a community phone. Ah, never mind. I will say though that it bothers me one hundred percent of the time when you know that the sibling of one of the love interests is going to star in the next book. I read that there is a brother or sister who is not in a relationship and I know right where it’s going.
- Okay so part of this is me and part of this is not. This book has a long subtitle involving quilts. There is a quilt mentioned at the very beginning and it shows up a lot. But see, I thought that we were going to see Jenny learn to quilt or do all sorts of quilting or something. She doesn’t even begin to quilt until the second to last chapter. I was like, where’s the quilting? I want to see transformative, life changing quilting and I want to see it now. I think that was my misconception. But the quilt also wasn’t all that essential to the plot either. So, maybe make less of a big deal in the subtitle if your not gonna make a bigger deal of it in the book. Like they say, if you see a quilt in the first act, you should see quilting all through the book. I may have that quote wrong. But anyway, more quilts please.
I’m going to stop there but to finish my summary, I am going to give it over to the wisest, smartest, most celebrated poet of mine or any other generation. “We been spendin’ most our lives livin’ in an Amish Paradise” – Weird Al Yankovich.
After all this non-quilting peaceful time spent in Amish country, I need to spice things up. Come back next week when I will review Jane Carver of Waar by Nathan Long. I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the extra a. I’ll let you know what it is.
This guy gets it –