Here's a description of the book:
"Three Stories That Share the Adventures of First Love and Second Chances.
A Perfect Secret—Rose Bender’s betrothed, Luke Lantz, is safe and dependable, maybe a little too much so. Or so she thinks until she sees him in the woods one night and discovers a secret he’s been keeping. Now his secret haunts her. She wasn’t sure about marrying a man she knew too well. But should she marry a man she doesn’t understand at all?
Christmas Cradles—When Anna Stolis takes over for her aunt, the local midwife, Christmas night heats up with multiple deliveries, three strangers’ quilts, and unexpected help from the handsome and brooding Asa Lapp.
A Marriage of the Heart—Since her mother’s death, Abigail Kauffman has lived alone with her father. She longs to escape the emptiness of the farmhouse that has never felt like home. Joseph Lambert is a newcomer in their close-knit community. Only after suddenly marrying do they begin to understand the tender truths of life-long love."
Three novellas by Kelly Long from separate collections (An Amish Wedding, An Amish Christmas, and An Amish Love) are brought together in one book - with an absolutely lovely cover, perfect for the upcoming winter season, might I add! For those who love Amish stories with an extra dose of romance, Long is the author to know.
"A Perfect Secret," while certainly an intriguing story to begin with, is probably my least favorite of the three. It comes across as rather far-fetched with a strange premise. Luke's character is mysterious and charming, in a way, but I think if I were in Rose's position I'd be a bit put-off that my best friend and fiance wasn't who I thought he was - and, in fact, had a very different personality that he was only now displaying. But the subtle suspense and the ultimate emphasis on openness and trust in community serve as redeeming qualities.
"Christmas Cradles" is the shortest of the three stories, and it's the "quickness" factor that made me a bit skeptical (the whole "falling in love in one day" sort of thing). Otherwise, this is just plain cute! The romance is sweet, the characters are endearing, and the whole story comes together in a symbolic, satisfying way. Very heart-warming!
"A Marriage of the Heart" is probably my favorite of the three, romantically speaking. Abigail starts out as one of those characters that easily frustrates and annoys, but I loved reading about her growth in love for her new husband, as well as her father. This is a type of "marriage of convenience" story - although how it's seen as "convenient" for the different characters is certainly different! Joseph is a great hero, and this is a great, short love story! (Add some glasses to the man on the cover, and I personally pictured him and the woman next to him as Joseph and Abigail - although the setting on the cover is more reminiscent of "Christmas Cradles.")
All in all, this collection is sweet, and these three stories added to my regard for Long's engaging writing style. If you're looking for some romantic, winter-afternoon reads, A Marriage of the Heart delivers.
*With thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing through the Booksneeze program
for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest