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.
I haven’t read the first book of this series, The Bargain, but that didn’t take anything away from this book for me. I thought Reed did a great job with introducing her characters to new readers. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this book was the way Reed slowly revealed the true heart of each character. It seems like a lot of authors either give away everything to soon, or don’t fully realize who the character is. Reed hits exactly the right balance of telling readers about the characters and letting us make our own judgments about them.
I thought the plot and the message in the book was very good as well. I have read a lot of Amish fiction, but I have to say that I learned a lot about the Amish lifestyle and beliefs in this one. It seems like Amish fiction either romanticizes the lifestyle, or goes to the other extreme. Reed educates readers while entertaining us, which is the best part about reading! I also appreciated the unusual time period in which the book was set. You don’t see a lot of Amish fiction set in the 1970’s.
The only negative thing I have to say about this book is from the very last page. It is the absolute worst thing for a reader to get to the end of a great book and then discover that the sequel isn’t due out for some time. In this case, readers have to wait until Winter 2016! I was very sad to learn I would have to wait that long, because I really enjoyed the characters and the story and can’t wait that long to find out what happens next!
This is a very entertaining book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.