In the disappointing second Hope Chest of Dreams contemporary (after Rebecca’s Bouquet), Baker returns to the close-knit Amish community in Arthur, Ill., where Annie encounters her childhood best friend, Levi, at a wedding. Levi and his family are now “English,” outside the Amish community, but Annie finds that even after a decade apart the two former friends still share an unusually close bond. Levi and Annie fall in love, but Annie wants to stay Amish. As in the previous romance, the choice between Amish and English is the central theme, but Annie lacks Rebecca’s introspection or maturity, making her struggles more like those of a rebellious teen than those of an adult testing her faith. Annie’s belief in God’s plan is admirable, but when she criticizes the community for shunning Levi’s father, she ignores the rules she otherwise venerates and sounds petulant for not getting her way. Old Sam returns in this romance, but as a prop who eats Annie’s sponge cakes, not as a person full of sage advice. The weak writing and rushed conclusion don’t help the plodding pace or build sympathy for Annie and Levi, and the steadfast loyalty and sincere faith that made Rebecca and William’s romance both heart-wrenching and sweet are entirely missing from this follow-up. Agent: Tamela Hancock Murray, Steve Laube Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017 Release date: 02/28/2017 Genre: Fiction
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