A Lesson About Deep Faith, True Love, and What Both Really Mean
by Leslie Gould
Series: Neighbors of Lancaster County (Book 2)
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
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Their Two Worlds Couldn’t Be Further Apart. Can Anything Bridge the Divide Between Them?
For years Zane Beck and his Amish neighbor 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 though as Zane’s service takes a dangerous turn when he’s deployed to Afghanistan. Being on the front line, 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?
One glance at the cover of this book is all it takes to realize that Amish Sweethearts is not your average tale of Lancaster County courtship. Though English Zane and Amish Lila have grown up as neighbors and best friends, much like Romeo and Juliet they belong to two different worlds. Are Zane and Lila destined for a tragic end like the famous star-crossed lovers, or are their feelings for one another strong and true enough to overcome the stumbling blocks that stand between them?
Many times you grow fond of fictional characters and find it hard to leave them at the end of the book. You long to know what their futures look like beyond the final page. Though Amish Promises focuses on the relationships between its adult characters, the childrens’ stories plays a large role. In fact, it’s the kids who serve as both the catalyst for change and the glue that brings two disparate worlds together. So I’m thankful that just as they’re on the cusp of adulthood, Amish Sweethearts allows us to look in on the kids’ lives again.
As the prologue opens, six years have passed since the Becks moved next door to the Lehmans, and as we revisit these two families we find that much has changed. Formerly inseparable, Zane and Lila have grown apart. She’s courting Reuben Byler, the Bishop’s son. When Lila and Zane have an argument about their future, she tells him to “go away…the farther the better”. Little did she dream that Zane would enlist in the Army and be deployed to Afghanistan!
In book one, Lila’s father Tim had concerns about the disruptive influence Zane and his family would have on his kids. Now Shani Beck, witnessing her son’s heartbreak, worries about the opposite — that the Lehman’s have wreaked havoc on Zane’s life.
Unlike her two brothers who are going through their Rumspringa, Lila is steady, committed, and ready for marriage. However, unable to imagine a future with Zane that doesn’t involve abandoning her faith, Lila resolves to stay the course with Reuben.
As time goes on, it becomes clear that though both Zane and Lila have taken divergent paths, neither is happy. With his discussions of literature, poetry, and philosophy, Zane expanded Lila’s small world. Will an Amish girl who can quote Wordsworth be comfortable fitting her enlarged ideas into a world that suddenly feels smaller? Can she commit to a marriage without love?
Meanwhile, will Zane find healing and new love in the Army? Can he remain committed to the Army despite convictions and circumstances that cause him to question whether he can continue to serve? Will he make it home safely?
As Zane and Lila follow through with the choices they’ve made and the consequences of those decisions, each finds him/herself leaning more heavily on prayer and faith than ever before. Though her books are never preachy, Gould carefully weaves God and faith into her tales. This time, the Christian theme is centered around this verse:
“Be still and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10
At one point in the story, we witness Lila taking a step in one direction while listening for God’s voice. Ultimately, she recognizes that she doesn’t sense any peace in her selection, so she changes course.
Leslie Gould had ambitious plans when she moved the Becks into their rented house on that quiet Lancaster County lane. Amish Sweethearts is no less complex that its predecessor. In fact, due in large part to the increased investment we have in the characters, Amish Sweethearts is an even bigger venture than was Amish Promises. As you read along, you’ll wonder if either character will have a happy ending.
— Dawn Teresa
4.5 of 5 Hearts. A Lesson About Deep Faith, True Love, and What Both Really Mean.
Amish Sweethearts tells the complicated story of what happens when two people from very different worlds fall in love. Though unsure whether God’s plan for their futures has them together or apart, each sets forth on his/her own path, trusting in Him to guide their steps.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Leslie Gould for providing me with a copy of this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Click on the cover to learn about Amish Promises,
Book 1 in the Neighbors of Lancaster County series: