12 December 2014

The Bachelor by Stephanie Reed

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In this sequel to The Bargain, Betsie Troyer is back home in her Amish community where she knows she belongs, free from the confusing Englisher way of life. She and Charley Yoder have made promises to each other, and her life is back on track - until Gerald Sullivan shows up with his young daughter, asking for Betsie's help. He's on his way to find his estranged wife, and begs Betsie to take young Sheila in.

When she agrees, Betsie's carefully planned life is shaken up again. Sheila's newfound faith is troubling to Charley - and his attraction to another girl is beginning to be a problem. But how can Betsie confront him when she is still trying to confront her own feelings about Sheila's brother, Michael? Keeping the peace between the Amish man she's always loved, a twelve-year-old Englisher girl, and a draft-dodging hippie is more than she ever thought she'd have to deal with in her simple, orderly life. Still, Betsie is convinced she can keep things from falling apart completely.

Then during her best friend's wedding, tragedy strikes and her world is upended. She has to make a decision: does she love Charley or Michael...or is she craving a deeper love that only God can give?

The compelling second novel of the Plain City Peace series, The Bachelor deftly weaves together the strands of a solid, simpler time with the turmoil of an era of change, revealing the strengths of both in its powerful narrative.

Before I started reading Amish fiction, I assumed all the Amish-community aspects to be pretty much the same across the many stories, only varying with characters and scenarios - but I have quickly realized I was quite wrong. Each author I have read presents their constructed Amish community and its viewpoints a bit differently and I really enjoy finding and learning the similarities and differences while reading. So, as I read Stephanie Reed’s The Bachelor, I found yet another intriguing Amish community in the Plain City, Ohio of the 1970s. Betsie Troyer’s simple life becomes incredibly complicated when she faces challenging decisions, forced to choose between her Amish loyalties and English friends. An admirable protagonist, Betsie makes her choices with genuine love and faith, and I love following her story all the way to the end (especially with the added historical backdrop). It’s an encouraging and moving story, and I think any fan of Amish fiction will want to read Stephanie Reed’s The Bachelor

It is important to note that The Bachelor is the second book in Stephanie Reed’s Plain City Peace series, picking up the story where, I assume, The Bargain leaves it. I have not read The Bargain and still, reading The Bachelor was an enjoyable experience for me. I did have to make some assumptions about relationships, situations and overall backstory, which probably occurred in the first book - but for the most, I felt like I understood what was happening and did not mind the assumptions I had to make. However, for readers unlike me, who prefer having all the information to understand the references and backstory, I would definitely recommend reading The Bargain before The Bachelor.

Thanks to Kregel Publications, I received a copy of The Bachelor and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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