Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: Promise Lodge

Promise Lodge (Promise Lodge - Book 1) by Charlotte Hubbard

Publication Date: 02/23/2016
Publisher: Kensington
Imprint: Zebra
Genre: Christian Fiction
Pages: 320
ISBN-10142013941X
ISBN-13978-1420139419

(Received for an honest review from Kensington Zebra)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Charlotte Hubbard on the WEB: WebsiteFacebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Promise Lodge, courtesy of the author's website

Synopsis:

It's a better life, a fresh start--and a heaven-sent second chance. Founded by three Amish sisters determined to put misfortune behind them, Promise Lodge is a colony where faith's abiding promise can be fulfilled--and love can make all things new…

Energetic widow Mattie Bender Schwartz is working day and night to get Promise Lodge going. She's also hoping the change will help her son Noah's heart to heal after his broken engagement. But his former fiancée, Deborah, is looking for a fresh start too. Filled with regret, and cast out by her dat for a reason she can't yet reveal, Deborah can only pray Noah will forgive her foolishness. 

Deborah is the last person Noah expected to show up at Promise Lodge. But with her cruel words still ringing in his head, he's reluctant to accept her apology--even if the Old Order ways demand he try. If only he could obey Christ's most important commandment: love one another. But one thing is certain--his mother and aunts, and their beloved Preacher Amos, will do their best to help him get there. 


Thoughts:

Charlotte Hubbard brings readers a story of faith and second chances in her new book, Promise Lodge. Christian Fiction readers who are looking for a book that tackles some of the big issues in Amish communities will find Hubbard's take a refreshing and honest portrayal of the good and the bad. Hubbard doesn't shy away from the hard questions nor do her characters turn a blind eye to violence and abuse. This is an interesting take on the Plain People.

What I liked:

I want to start off by saying that I had some issues with this book in the beginning. But there were also some very good things about this one as well. Hubbard gives readers some intriguing characters in the three sisters, Mattie, Rosetta and Christine. But it was Deborah who really stole the show here. The sisters have decided to leave their community due to some issues involving abuse and violence. They start Promise Lodge, a new community dedicated to caring for those looking for a new start. Deborah arrives at Promise Lodge looking to renew her relationship with Mattie's son, Noah after being thrown out of her own community. 

Hubbard does a wonderful job with giving readers interesting characters who are facing some pretty tough decisions in their lives. The sisters give up everything for a new start. They are very independent and smart, but they do have some strong opinions. Not exactly what you would expect from typical Amish characters. I think Hubbard was going for something different. She wanted to show a different side of the Amish community and she had to have strong characters to pull that off. Deborah is a strong woman in her own right. But she has made some mistakes along the way... haven't we all. I loved her a lot. I wanted her to find love, but most than that I wanted her to find herself and Hubbard shows a lot of growth in all of the characters throughout the book.

I also enjoyed the atmosphere of this book. There is just something about a fresh start, the beginning of something new that kind of pervades this book. Readers will feel like they want to jump right in and help get Promise Lodge ready for some new inhabitants. I loved the idea that Hubbard was trying to convey. I think she wanted readers to see that the Amish have some of the same problems everybody else has. They may live a more simple lifestyle so far as possessions are concerned but their family lives can in some cases be as traumatic as anyone else. 

What I didn't like:

I had some issues with this one. I wanted to love it all and there were parts that I really enjoyed. The premise was good, second chances and forgiveness, that's exactly what I would expect from a Christian novel, especially one involving the Amish. I love Amish stories. I love the simplistic life and the fact that faith and family are most important.

I also realize that not every Amish family is perfect. They have their issues the same as any community. But I felt like Hubbard was especially hard on the Amish here. She portrayed them in the beginning of the book as slave drivers, abusive and violent with leaders who tolerate or even encourage that kind of behavior. She does redeem that idea along the way, but I think the damage was already done. She was trying to show the seedier side, but she forgot to say that most Amish are not this way. I just felt ill at ease with the portrayal of the Amish in this one. This wasn't just a few instances along the way, it made it seem like every Amish family was hiding deep dark secrets. More judgmental than I was expecting.

The sisters had a great idea, striking out on their own and showing they had it in them to be independent and strong women, but there were moments that it seemed a bit too overdone. They were crossing the line between being women who could take care of themselves and being women who thought no man was worthy to try to take care of them. I'm a pretty independent gal, but I also love tenderness and passion in my life. You can't always get that from a friend. I just wanted to see the sisters believe that a man was good for something other than piling on abuse or making them a slave to their wishes. 

Bottom Line:

I love Amish fiction and thankfully this is not the only Amish story I have ever read. I loved the characters and the premise of the book, but that love kind of got lost in the details for me. I felt like the author was trying to show a different side of the Amish community but she didn't do the best job of pointing out that not every Amish family is like this. I loved the sisters, but they got a little overbearing. Deborah was the shining jewel in this book and her character showed me that Hubbard is worth reading again. I hope to see her lighten up a little bit with the story lines in later books in the series. Not every Amish man is abusive and not every Amish woman feels like a slave. Take it all with a grain of salt and let me know what you think of this one.

Promise Lodge is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Promise Lodge series. Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people--to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of all her Amish romance series. She's a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she's not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

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