More excellent Christian fiction – great to know it’s out there!

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer is the second book in the “Daughters of Caleb Bender” series. If you’re interested in this book, then take my advice and read “Paradise Valley” first; taken as a whole you’ll enjoy it so much more. If you already have read the first one, then you are familiar with the storyline; an Amish family moves from the US to Mexico to start over free from government encroachment on its way of life, and pioneers a farming community that others Amish families plan to join. Dale Cramer does an excellent job of bringing the reader in; the characters and their experiences are believable and engaging. For the reader there is a tangible sense of tension and frustration at the predicaments that Caleb Bender’s family members find themselves in as they face wandering bands of outlaws who threaten their property and lives- while refusing to defend themselves or fight back. We’re used to heroes that stand up and fight, as opposed to those that yield, and I enjoyed mulling on the scenarios that caused me to question if-or when- engaging in physical violence is ever an appropriate response for a Christian. Cramer does ultimately give the reader a hero such as we would expect, but he’s not Amish. Domingo, a native man introduced in the first novel becomes a central figure in this second book, as he attempts to defend, rescue, and to some extent try to understand the Amish family he works for, and as a seemingly hopeless romance begins to blossom between him and Miriam, one of the Bender daughters.
I loved Paradise Valley, and eagerly awaited this second book, “The Captive Heart,” and when I got my hands on this book I read it in one sitting- and now I’m waiting impatiently for book three! It’s not that I’m a huge fan of Amish fiction; in fact, I think this might be the first Amish-themed fiction I’ve ever read. But I am a fan of the underdog- and I am inspired by faith so strong it trusts the sovereignty of God in even the worst situations. And I have to admit, I really enjoy learning about the Amish way of life, the values, the mindset, and the culture; there’s something to be gained from reading about a people who are fundamentally counter-cultural, and even though I am not Amish and never will be, as a Christian I am called to live ‘set apart.’ Quite apart from personal edification, this series is also simply enjoyable. The characters are well-developed, believable, and engaging- particularly considering the number of central characters. Dale Cramer is skilled in his ability to switch point of view fluidly, which keeps things interesting and keeps the storyline moving. If you’ve got a quiet afternoon on your hands, I can’t think of a better way to pass it than by reading this series – hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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