Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Zebra
(first published September 1st 2012)
Right away I felt connected to the characters in this captivating Amish romance. Just as there were many characters I liked, there was only one I didn't like. The main characters, Miriam and Ben, were very appealing and I was rooting for them to find happiness together but Miriam had her doubts when she thought her late husband, Jesse, was admonishing her for inviting a "stranger" into their home and for thinking about selling him some of their farm land. Ben, as a traveling farrier, wants to finally settle down and he's sure Miriam is his soul mate but he's got a lot to do to convince Miriam of that. Not only is Miriam unsure that it is proper to move on, there's the little matter of Bishop Knepp. He is determined to have Miriam for himself even when she tells him it will never happen.
Bishop Knepp is one of those threatening characters who looms up from the pages. He's the one I didn't like, mainly because of his selfish, chauvinistic ways and bullying tactics. He wants what he wants and no one will stand in his way. I like the way Hubbard included a less than stellar personality into the story. It just shows some people will egage in egregious behaviors when it behooves them to do so, even if they take on the mantle of a peaceful, loving leader of a religious community. He was anything but! He gave me the "creeps." It takes a talented writer to elicit out such emotions from a reader.
One other thing I liked about Hubbard's writing is that she showcases strong women who can stand on their own especially when modern day ways intrude on the old Amish ways. Despite Bishop Knepp's attempts to take Miriam out of the café kitchen and into his own kitchen, she has managed to run a very successful bakery café with her business partner and two daughters. Several other romance threads, particularly that of Miriam's daughter, Rhoda, were woven into the plot which made for delightful reading. The Willow Ridge, Missouri setting was very well portrayed as were all the characters.
Will Miriam come to realize that Jesse would only want her happiness and that Ben is truly the man for her or should she yield to Bishop Knepp's pressure and marry him? Will Rhoda find the man who is right for her?
I guess you'll just have to read the book and see. Autumn Winds is the second book in the Seasons of the Heart series. Although I didn't read the first one in the series (Summer of Secrets) I don't feel like I missed anything. Hubbard does a terrific job of creating a stand alone story, one that I enjoyed immensely. Recipes included at end of book.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by LT/Zebra in exchange for my honest opinion.