Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

February 8, 2016

A Son's Vow {Shelley Shepard Gray}

A Son's Vow {Shelley Shepard Gray}
Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family.

Darla's father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm's lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn't looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger---with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother's anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn't change soon, Darla fears it will cost her---and her family---even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father's lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he's feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone---especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can't simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla's love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

Shelley Shepard Gray's first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy. 

My Thoughts:
While this book had a good story with some unexpected twists, I never really felt I connected with the characters. That lack of connection made it difficult for me to really get into the book and the story being told.

The town of Charm is 100 days removed from a mill fire that killed five men in the community. While some of the survivors have begun the process of moving on, some are still stuck in the tragedy and the actions that caused the fire. It is those that are still stuck in the past that cause drama and turmoil for the rest of the town.

Darla is the daughter of the man accused of starting the fire. Although his name has been cleared, those that blame him seem to blame him very publicly and without question. This has caused Darla and her siblings to be outcasts in town, and they are struggling to simply survive. Darla works to keep them going, and endures intense abuse from her brother.

Through the abuse that Darla suffers, a bond is rekindled between Darla and Lukas. Although there were flashbacks and memory scenes, I felt we missed a lot of the background story between Darla and Lukas. Therefore, their story felt very rushed an impulsive to me. Although I appreciated his willingness to protect her, I felt Lukas moved much too fast for the situation Darla was in.

A side character in this book is Hannah. Hannah lost her boyfriend in the fire, and has moved on by working for an English family. I actually enjoyed her story more than the one of Darla and Lukas. I am hopeful the following books in this series will have a focus on Hannah and the life she is creating for herself.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

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