Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry. All of her other Amish friends could court and marry she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire. But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister. With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice: she must marry. And not just any man the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away. Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable. And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner. When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can t let her down even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life. Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn t the same boy who once betrayed her. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family and herself."
Not your average Amish life novel! Not that I've read a ton of them. In fact, most I've read have been those I've been sent for review from publishers or ones my mother requested I read. But yeah, of the small stack I've covered, this one has one of the more unique plots I've come across, and incorporates some darker themes not typically addressed in this type of novel.
Let me start off by warning sensitive readers that this book does open with a scene of sexual assault. Not full-on rape, but there is extremely aggressive kissing from a guy that won't take no for an answer.
Sadie Schrock is an Amish teen running an errand for her parents (who own the local general store) one day when she is accosted by Bishop Emmanuel Troyer's eldest son, Sol. Sol is clearly drunk and keeps trying to make advances toward Sadie, which understandably makes her extremely uncomfortable. Sol's younger brother Adan walks up on the scene, senses Sol is up to something bad, but quickly becomes too frightened to fight off his older brother, Instead he chooses to run off, leaving Sadie to fend for herself. Sadie gets yanked into a nearby cornfield where Sol tries to carry out a forceful gropefest, until Sadie finds opportunity to bite & kick her way to being free of him.
Six years later, everyone is in their 20s now. Sol is still a hot-tempered, sexually frustrated alcoholic, Adan's still guilt ridden over his cowardice, and Sadie is still struggling with emotional scars from the attack. Her parents want her to marry but Sadie cannot bring herself to be at ease around any men. Her mother basically forces her into attending a party but Sadie is floored when she finds out the party is being held at the Troyer home. Sadie manages to make a brief appearance before the anxiety gets to be too much and she has to go home. Shortly after the night of the party, Sadie's parents are killed in a traffic accident. Sadie, being the eldest, is left to take over the running of the store and family finances, which she comes to discover are waaaay in the red. When she goes to the bishop to ask for financial help from the community funds, his bright idea is for her to marry Sol, but the reader comes to find out that the bishop has his own less than honorable intentions for wanting the marriage. Seeing this as his moment to remedy past wrongs, Adan steps up and says Sadie already promised herself to him. Sadie obviously has her reasons to hate either match, but with limited choices, agrees to marry Adan. But how does one make it work with someone who so painfully wronged her when she most needed help?
I went into this pretty much expecting your typical Amish romance but was pleasantly surprised at how much deeper it turned out to be. This story tackles such topics as the power a sincere apology can have; finding strength to go against what you've been taught your entire life when you realize those teachings are actually based in ignorance or prejudice; struggles with alcoholism and why some people are driven to self medicate emotional wounds; and allowing people who have wronged you the opportunity to change (in turn allowing yourself to let go of the hateful feelings towards them). The story also looks at suspicious behavior among church officials, which brings up the topic of what do we do when the people we put on pedestals let us down?
The romance unfolds pretty much the way you would expect, it was more the other themes that led me to give this one a four star rating. I'd say if you've liked this type of story in the past and would like to try them again, but have maybe become burnt out by the same ol' plots being churned out in recent years, this might be a good one to try out as a refresher.
POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: As I mentioned above, this book does open with a scene of sexual assault. Also, two of the characters later on in the story reveal that they were victims of child abuse.
FTC DISCLAIMER: TNZ Fiction Guild provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.