Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they're bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Cafe. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential.
Perhaps she could find love again - if only there weren't so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved cafe at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for, and the love she deserves.
I actually meant to read Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard after I read Summer of Secrets, which is what I'm currently reading, but forgot what I was doing and just picked this up and couldn't really put it back down.
Ben Hooley literally blows in to town with a storm and in to Miriam's bakery. There is no doubt about it, the chemistry between the two is immediate and electric. If I may be so bold as to assume, it was love at first sight. Even though neither Ben nor Miriam will actually say as much. Unfortunately, Hiram Knepp is hell bent on squashing any chance Ben has with Miriam by trying to force her to marry himself. Something Miriam is not too keen on doing. At. All.
This book was definitely not without its drama. Hiram trying to discredit Ben with Miriam and the entire town of Willow Ridge by spying and snooping and twisting his past. Not surprisingly, it doesn't work. The entire town seems to be smitten with Ben and can't wait for him to settle down and set up shop for good. Ben decides that's a fantastic idea, to the delight of miss Miriam, and calls on his brothers and his aunts to join him. We find out that Hiram has been keeping secrets. The kind of which end up getting him shunned. Good old Hiram. Can always count on him for some excitement.
Like I said before, I've been reading this series somewhat backwards. So I already knew that he was shunned, but it was kind of suspenseful anyway, in that even though I was well aware, the details and the story were presented in such a way that I felt like it was completely new to me. If that makes sense. Kind of like when you watch a movie you've seen a million times and you know how it ends but you find yourself on the edge of your seat anyway.
Ben Hooley was the epitome of a dashing and protective gentleman. And as always, I love Miriam. She's such a strong and independent woman and I love that Ben respects that and doesn't expect for her to change. After all, she wouldn't really be the woman he loved if she caved and gave up her business and pledged to stay at home and wait on him hand and foot the way Hiram would expect her to do.
I love the way the whole town rallied around Ben and his brothers, making it possible for them to relocate and set their businesses up. Always so friendly and helpful. And the way everyone supported Miriam and looked out for her as far as Hiram was concerned. It was fun, also, to see the introductions of Ben's aunts Jerusalem and Nazareth. I'd read about them in several other books but it was great to see how they kind of charged in and took control of Hiram's household and his children and got them all sorted out. Exposing Hiram and his shenanigans in the process.
Autumn Winds is a wonderful story. Even if you haven't read any of the other books in the series. Just like the others it works as a stand-alone or as a read-out-of-order. I'm looking forward to finishing up Summer of Secrets and then diving in to Harvest of Blessings which I have the pleasure of doing an advanced review of. I can't wait! If you've ever wanted to read Amish Fiction I highly suggest starting with the Seasons of the Heart series by Charlotte Hubbard or the Home at Cedar Creek series and One Big Happy Family series by Naomi King (aka, Charlotte Hubbard!). Fantastic stories!