The year is 1777. America is in turmoil. And Amish life is far different than today.
Pennsylvania in the late 18th century, once called William Penn's Woods, was an assortment of different faiths living together for the first time in American history. Included in this tapestry was a small and struggling population called Amish.
Surrounding this peaceful people were unavoidable threats: both Patriots and the British were pillaging land and goods for the sake of the war, young Amishmen were leaving the faith to take up arms and defend freedom. A simple walk in the untamed forests could result in death, if not from bullet or arrow, then from an encounter with a wild animal.
Amid this time of tumult, Adam Wyse is fighting a personal battle. To possibly join the war efforts and leave his faith, which would mean walking away from the only woman he's ever loved: Lena Yoder. But for that love he's made a promise that may keep them apart permanently.
When Adam withdraws from Lena, she's forced to turn to his brother, Isaac, for support. Must Lena deny her heart's desire to save Adam's soul? And will life in this feral and primitive New World be more than this peace-keeping people can withstand?
If you have spent more than a few minutes browsing my blog, you will notice a dearth of reviews of Amish novels. As a genre, it simply doesn't appeal to me and I genuinely struggle to understand why these novels flood the Christian fiction market. Now, before anyone runs me over with a buggy, this is not a criticism of the many talented authors who write these stories, it just explains my lack of interest. So, it goes without saying that an author who can write an Amish novel that I am willing to read is special! Kelly Long is one such author and she did not disappoint me with Arms of Love, the first book in her Amish Beginnings series and another 'out of the box' Amish novel. A unique time period, authentic characters and an unrequited love make Arms of Love captivating and emotive. Adam Wyse, Lena Yoder and Ruth Stone leap from the pages with authenticity as they wrestle sorrow, loss and injustice. Kelly is not afraid to tackle topics they are rarely found in Amish stories, adding depth and emotion to an intriguing tale. I had expected the military conflict to have featured more prominently given the synopsis but Kelly included plenty of relational conflict and historical detail, making the journey all the more fascinating. I can highly recommend Arms of Love and any Kelly Long novel as her talent surpasses any hesitation I feel delving into a genre outside my comfort zone!
With thanks to Thomas Nelson for my review copy