Summer has come to Willow Ridge, but Rachel Lantz is looking forward to a whole new season in her life--marriage to strapping carpenter Micah Brenneman, her childhood sweetheart. When a strange Englischer arrives in the café claiming to be the long-lost sister of Rachel and her twin Rhoda, Rachel feels the sturdy foundation of her future crumbling--including Micah's steadfast love. As the days heat up and tempers flare, Rachel and Micah will learn that even when God's plan isn't clear, it will always lead them back to each other. . .
I finally got to the FIRST book in the Seasons of the Heart series, Summer of Secrets by Charlotte Hubbard! And like the rest, it didn't disappoint.
It was interesting to read the beginnings of the Willow Ridge crew. To see that at one point Hiram Knepp was at least SOMEWHAT respected in the community. Even if not for long. And to see the first meetings between Tiffany (Rebecca) and the family she never knew she had. She definitely was a surprise (and a shock) when she walked in to the cafe with her spikey "witchy" hair and tattoos with her goth style clothing. But Miriam knew her and loved her anyway.
Tiffany was the little girl that Miriam lost when she was only 3 years old. Washed away during a flood and thought dead for 18 years. After her "adoptive" mother dies, Tiffany finds out she's not really Tiffany and storms out in search of answers she doesn't feel her grieving father will truthfully provide. The truth, however, is not what she expected and seems to be more in conflict with what's going on once she's met her Mamm and her sisters than she ever was.
To Rachel's dismay and complete irritation, her honey Micah seems smitten with "Tiffany" and can't stop gawking at her. But, things aren't always what they seem. Yes, Micah was intrigued by the "witchy" girl, but realized that underneath all the hair dye, dark shocking make up, tattoos, and strange clothing, there was someone who was hurting and trying to figure things out. Someone who needed to know her Mamm and sisters, even if she didn't think she wanted to.
And it's a good thing he persisted. If he hadn't, Rebecca never would have come back to the bakery the day she did. Miriam could have lost her shop. And Micah and Rachel may have been forced to transform their home in to a B&B not too long after marriage in order to bring income in to the family. Not that a B&B is a bad thing... but when you're newly married who wants to share a home with strange people you have to wait on and take care of? Not that they would have minded probably... but you know they wanted to be able to enjoy that time together alone...
Loved the book. And meeting Rebecca/Tiffany for the "first" time. Even after reading all the other books and liking her a lot for her character and her part in the stories that she was in, this first meeting rubbed me the wrong way. I think I judged her much like most of the residents of Willow Ridge.
Rachel was prone to tantrums in this one. Something else I wasn't used to seeing in subsequent books. But... I suppose if I was not quite engaged - at least not publicly - to MY childhood sweetheart, I'd probably have been a bit worried TOO if he kept blowing me off to go follow around someone else. Yes, he had his reasons, and they turned out to be honorable... but what young girl is able to see the forest for the trees in a situation like this? She came around, and that was the important part.
I LOVED this first look at Miriam (not MY first look, but this first look in the series). She's strong and steadfast and SASSY. And she's so incredibly smart. Not one to just roll over and let things happen to her that aren't fair simply because someone says she should. She fought for the right to be independent and to run her business, a business that employed and supplied food and work for MANY Willow Ridge residents. She fought to be able to take care of herself and her children without having to ask anyone for handouts, which I'm sure would have been given if they had been needed because the people in the town loved her.
Micah was a little sneaky for my taste in this book. At the beginning at least. I was kind of worried that he'd end up breaking Rachel's heart (even though I knew that wasn't going to be the case). Or put himself in a bad situation as far as Rebecca was concerned. The thing I dislike the most in life is a liar. And unfortunately, he lied a bit. Made promises that he knew he couldn't keep. BUT... in the end, like I said, intentions were honorable and ultimately resulted in the happy ending the story had. Were it not for his mild deception things would not have been so great for the Lantzes. So... I'll forgive him for telling a few fibs.
If you haven't read any of the other books in the series, start with this one. Or don't. It doesn't really matter what order you read them in. They're just as exciting and fun to read OUT of order as they are IN order. I just highly suggest you read them! They're not without their drama and frustration (Hello, Hiram!) but they're lighthearted and friendly and after a while, familiar. Like friends. You won't be sorry!