As another year draws to a close in Willow Ridge, life seems to be changing for everyone but Rhoda Lantz. Her widowed mother is about to remarry, her sister is a busy newlywed, and soon Rhoda will be alone in her cozy apartment above the blacksmith's shop. An ad posted by an Englischer looking for someone to help with his mother and children may offer just the companionship she's looking for, but if she falls for the caring single father, she may risk being shunned by her community. Certain she can only wish for things she cannot have, Rhoda must remember that all things are possible with God, and nothing is stronger than the power of love.I don't read books like this often. I'm more of a fantasy/paranormal kind of person as evidenced by many of the reviews I have posted here. But every once in a while I'll review a book like Winter of Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard and it's a total breath of fresh air. There's no fantasy world to try and figure out or complex creatures to try and remember. It's just straightforward good writing.
Rhoda seems to be stuck in a rut. Everyone is moving on with their lives around her but she's at a stand still and doesn't think she's going to go anywhere any time soon. So she calls about a job taking care of a man's two children and his mother who is recovering from a stroke. She thinks it's just the thing she needs to follow everyone else's lead and push her life in the direction she wants it to go. The kids love her, the mom seems to be recuperating well when she's around. And... the man. Andy.
But she's not supposed to fall for him. He's English and she's Plain. She's already joined the church so there's no possible way for her to leave without being excommunicated from the faith and she doesn't want to do that to her family. Her wonderful family. Despite objections from the shunned bishop in Willow Ridge and the preacher she's confessed to, Rhoda finds herself falling quite hard for Andy. And he falls for her as well.
Rhoda's life kind of spirals from there. One simple act of affection snowballs in to this GIANT thing and plans are set in motion that neither of them could have ever dreamed of. But they're definitely met with their share of opposition... and support from unexpected places.
I loved the book. Absolutely loved it. Rhoda was kind and compassionate and just an overall wonderful person to read about and Andy goes from being this worn out, broken down man to a fierce protector and advocate of the Amish faith. Rhoda's mother Miriam may have just been my favorite character. Though she's Amish, she has little qualms with butting heads with the bishop (who is angry because she wouldn't marry him and likes to make trouble for the entire community in general) and finding loopholes in rules so that things turn out for the better rather than leaving everyone brokenhearted. She dearly loves her daughters and that is made 100% clear throughout the entire story, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Winter of Wishes was an absolutely uplifting story about the bond between family and friends and the strength of faith and love. I wish I could go run and grab the other books in the Seasons of the Heart series and read them right now.
Books like this always make me interested in learning about the culture and the customs behind them. And, for those of you who love to bake, there are a bunch of delicious sounding recipes in the back of the book for you to try once you've gotten your fill of reading about the happenings in the Sweet Seasons bakery.
Side note: I know the characters in the story are supposed to be speaking with a German accent, but I haven't heard one of those in about 6 months. So as I was reading, the German accent in my head kept switching to Irish for some reason. Haha.
I would definitely recommend this book as a read for anyone. It's heartwarming and will definitely leave you wanting to learn more of the Lantz family. It also teaches a lot of the Amish culture, which I find fascinating, and may even make you wonder what it would be like to be in their shoes. If nothing else, read this book because it will make you smile. And everyone could use a smile every now and then right?