Title: Return to the Big Valley (Wilma’s Wish, Martha’s Miracle, and Alma’s Acceptance)
Author: Wanda Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, and Richelle Brunstetter
Genre: Amish Romance/Christian
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
The Brunstetters Return to a Unique Amish Setting for Three New Stories of Love
Journey back to an area of Pennsylvania that is home to three distinct Amish communities and meet three young women who face heartfelt disappointments in romance.
Wilma’s Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter
Wilma Hostetler has been courted by Israel Zook for the last year, and he’s recently proposed marriage. But when his sister dies, leaving him to care for five young nephews who openly dislike Wilma, she has second thoughts of starting with a ready-made family and decides to call off the wedding. Can anything be done to restore the relationship, or will Israel seek another wife?
Martha’s Miracle by Jean Brunstetter
Martha Yoder is different from other Amish women in her love of hunting and the outdoors. Meeting Glen Swarey, who is working with the local fire department, seems to be a good match. But can Martha accept Glen’s thoughts of leaving the Amish faith, or will she walk away from a chance at love?
Alma’s Acceptance by Richelle Brunstetter
Alma Wengerd is a young widow who leaves her home in Kentucky to stay with friends in Pennsylvania. Soon she is speeding into a renewed romance with Elias Kurtz and raising the brows of the older church members. When Alma is waylaid by some unexpected news, could putting her happiness with Elias on hold be her only option?
~ My Review ~
It’s been a long time since I’ve read an Amish book, and I’m not quite sure why. I used to read a lot of them. I’ve just always been fascinated by the simple lifestyle and strong sense of community. So, when I won a copy of this one on Goodreads, I was excited to return the Amish culture.
Wilma’s Wish is about a young betrothed couple that find themselves with quite a burden on their hands. Israel’s sister passes away unexpectedly, leaving him with five rambunctious and unruly boys to raise. Wilma steps in right away to help, but finds the job a lot harder than she could ever anticipate. The boys are determined to get rid of her.
It’s a story that pulls on the heartstrings a bit but without going too heavy. The end was so sweet and definitely left a smile on my face. My only issue was that things seemed to be resolved a bit too quickly.
In Martha’s Miracle, Martha’s not your typical female in the Amish community. She’d much rather be fishing and hunting than sewing or baking. Unfortunately that meant that guys, while they might be attracted to her, never seemed to stick around long.
Then Glen Swarey enters the scene. He not only doesn’t mind that she fishes and hunts, he wants to do it with her. And he doesn’t care about what is typically required of an Amish woman, but he’s not so sure about joining the church. He’s very much considering going English. The problem with this is that Martha, while she may not be your typical Amish girl, is very sure that she wants to be Amish.
The problems arise when Glen tries to push Martha in the direction she’s made it clear she has no desire to go. But, there are some major issues coming Glen’s way that will definitely affect Glen’s heart.
I again didn’t love how quickly things wrapped up in this one, and I had one small issue with what influences Glen. But there were things I loved, like Martha’s short but powerful conversations with her father. Her father’s character isn’t a major one, but impactful enough to make me reflect on my own parenting.
In the end, it was another sweet story.
Alma’s Acceptance is a love after loss story. Alma returns to the town she grew up in after losing her husband just a month prior. She had been forced to the leave the town several years earlier when her parents had to move to take care of an elderly grandparent.
Alma had loved her childhood best friend, Elias back then, but had never spoken up about it. And, he hadn’t either, though he had loved her, too. And her returning to the town brings a mixture of feelings for Alma. She’s struggling with the feelings of loss and the remaining love she still harbors for Elias.
They receive permission to court, but then Alma makes a discovery that would impact them both, and she decides it’s just not fair to put that on Elias. She decides for them both to end things without cluing Elias in.
I really appreciated that this book made me think and analyze my own thoughts and opinions on the topics in this book. It definitely encouraged me to refrain from passing judgments on others. But, it also solidified my opinion that it’s never okay to make a decision by yourself when it affects more than just you.
There are other interesting elements to this story. Alma’s overwhelming Type A personality creates some issues with her friend Leila that she’s staying with. And Leila and her husband Aden play a nice little role in the story and it’s conclusion.
In the end, it was another sweet story that I was glad I read. And it caused me to think and analyze my own thoughts. I love when a book can do that!
Overall, I enjoyed each short story even though I had some issues with them. It’s been so long since I’ve read an Amish book, and it was wonderful to return to the culture. And more importantly, these books challenged me to think about my own beliefs and opinions. I gave each individual story 4 stars, and therefore the book as a whole got 4.
*Disclaimer: I don’t have much in the way of triggers for myself, but I totally understand the need of trigger warnings for some of you. If you have trigger warnings, please check out a review where those triggers will be listed because I often overlook adding them in my reviews.*
Have you read Return to the Big Valley? Are you planning to? What cultures or groups of people do you find fascinating to read about?