cover image An Amish Family Christmas

An Amish Family Christmas

Shelley Shepard Gray. Avon Inspire, $12.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-233786-3

Gray’s fourth Charmed Amish Life novel succeeds as a simple, heartwarming tale of opening up and starting anew during the Christmas season. After Julia discovered she was pregnant with an abusive, manipulative man’s child, she fled to the Amish community where she grew up. Six years later, she has crafted a simple life for herself and her daughter, claiming to be a young widow. Julia’s hardened independence begins to thaw when her neighbor Levi, son of the richest family in town, suggests she could clean his house to earn the extra money she needs for her daughter’s Christmas gift. As the two grow closer, Levi’s lingering grief over his father’s death also slowly evaporates. But romance between the two faces serious challenges when Julia’s past unexpectedly catches up with her. Alongside the main romance, Gray shows a former Amish woman returning to the area to set up a battered woman’s shelter, and some of the family dynamics among Levi and his siblings. Julia’s daughter, Penny, is particularly well drawn, and her relationship with Levi is touchingly tender. Gray lightly applies the Amish setting to provide texture without bogging down the pace, letting some inaccuracies pass unremarked for the sake of the story. Agent: Mary Sue Seymour, Seymour Agency. (Oct.)