Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Where Grace Abides by BJ Hoff

Here is a summary of Where Grace Abides from the Harvest House Publisher's website:

Readers loved Rachel’s Secret, the first book in BJ Hoff’s wildly popular new series, The Riverhaven Years, and are eagerly awaiting the continuing story of young Amish widow, Rachel Brenneman, and Irish–American riverboat captain, Jeremiah Gant.

In Where Grace Abides, the compelling second book in the series, Hoff offers her readers an even closer look at the Amish community of Riverhaven and the people who live and love and work there. Secrets, treachery, and persecution are only a few of the challenges that test Rachel’s faith and her love for the forbidden “outsider,” while Gant’s own hopes and dreams are dealt a life–changing blow, rendering the vow he made to Rachel seemingly impossible to honor.

Many of the other characters first introduced in Rachel’s Secret now find their gentle, unassuming lives of faith jeopardized by a malicious outside influence. At the same time, those striving to help runaway slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad face deception and the danger of discovery.

All the elements readers have come to expect from author BJ Hoff (romance, drama, great characters) join together in Where Grace Abides to fill the pages with a tender, endearing love story and a bold, inspiring journey of faith.

My Review:
This was the first book that I have read by Hoff and I was really looking forward to a glimpse into the Amish faith and lifestyle.  Even though I did not read the first book in the series, I felt like the author did a good job of filling you in as to what developed in the first installment. 

As the book opens we learn that Rachel has fallen in love with Jeremiah, who is not Amish himself so he is considered an outsider.  They have such a strong love for one another that Jeremiah and Rachel are both crushed when the Amish bishop will not allow him to convert to their religion so the two of them can be married and spend the rest of their lives together.  

What seems to sting Jeremiah is the fact that his good friend David has been given permission by the bishop to convert, which then allows him to marry Rachel's mother.  He struggles with thoughts that he should have acted differently for a more positive outcome.  Because of his close friendship with David, he finds himself in the company of Rachel quite often.  He knows from the look in her eyes that she is just as hurt by the bishop's decision.

There is a violent and shocking act that takes place within the novel that seems to be an act of vengeance against those that help to support the Underground Railroad.  I have always found stories of the Underground Railroad fascinating so I would have liked it if this part of the storyline was developed more.  

I always enjoy learning about other cultures so I did enjoy learning a little bit about the customs and traditions of the Amish people, but I really feel the author could have went a little more in-depth in this area.  The pining over the forbidden love between Rachel and Jeremiah was a bit too over the top for me.  I think the characters and the storyline could have been developed in a way that gave us a more vivid picture of the time period and the Amish lifestyle.

My Rating: 2/5

Disclosure:  This book was won from Book Movement and was read as a book club selection.


kalea_kane said...

Great honest review. I have really enjoyed reading Amish fiction, but definitely one of the things that appeal to me is the glimpse into another culture. I have a feeling I would feel much the same. Thanks for sharing!

Blodeuedd said...

I do always appreciate an honest review, pining you say, I can take pining, lol

Jo-Jo said...

Kalea Kane: I just love cultural fiction but this book just left me feeling like I didn't learn much at all.

Blodeuedd: I would really categorize this book as a romance so if you are looking for that kind of a read, you may enjoy it.