With their 13 children grown, Anna and Felty Helmuth are ready for their next adventure. That means trying their hands at matchmaking - because what could be more fun than igniting love when it's right and undoing mismatches when they're wrong? Now Huckleberry Hill just might turn out to be the most romantic spot in Wisconsin.
Lia Shetler is resigned to being a spinster. She's too tall and sturdy to ever be marriageable - so says her overbearing dad. Instead she's helping her pretty, spoiled sister, Rachel, secure the perfect husband - the Helmuths' grandson, Moses Zimmerman. But the more Lia sees of his gently teasing ways and quiet understanding, the more she wishes that Moses could be hers alone.
Moses knew that his grandparents couldn't resist trying to find him a wife. But he never expected that it would be the graceful, sensible Lia - a woman who is tall enough to look him in the eye and honest enough to make him question a promise holding him to his past. Now Moses and Lia will need the kind of miracles that only faith and courage can bring to finally reach for a lifetime of happiness.
"Beckstrand has written a sweet romance with a lot of heart that offers a new, refreshing take on the overused matchmaking trope." (RT Book Reviews)
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I loved it!!!
Not as good as Shelley Shepard Gray, but OK
The story did end morally well, but the middle lost it's tension and dragged. Lea, the heroine, is tall, slim and beautiful, but was raised by parents who told her she was not pretty, that her height was a marked drawback,that she would never marry, and never looked, saw or spoke to her of her good qualities, but was constantly admonished to make her younger and "more delicate"certainly shorter sister happy, and be her caretaker. This lack of nourishment did have its affect, thus feeding one side of the conflict in the romantic drama to ensue. She is asked by
some neighbors 40 or so miles away, to come and help them, as they are now elderly, in their 80's, and though hardy, cannot do as much as they would like. They each and collectively are delightful, with spunky, honest, loving and caring natures, and love Lea, appreciating her hard and capable work very much. They have a handsome, and very tall (6'5") grandson named Moses who comes at least once a week to do what else needs doing for them. He is loyal, funny, fun loving, caring ,respectful and sometimes even compassionate, as well as honest and hard working. His story is that he is still in love with his first love, Barbara, who left 3 years ago, and though suffering under a ban from the Amish community, still believes she will one day come back. Nevertheless, she has done well for herself in the Englisher culture, buying a car, getting a decent job, and planning an education. Moses is her lifeline she believes, and she writes him weekly,promising,promising, promising she will someday return. Moses is deeply loyal, and is hung up on this hope. So when he meets Lea, he is out of touch with his
sensations and feelings, and, though friendly, doesn't see what is happening to him,not for a long time. The story is made more taut by Lea's family's "family drama", the belief that Rachel, the younger sister must be given priority, and care. She has already denied 3 local suitors, and when she and Dat, her father, find out about Moses' handsomeness, helpfulness, and his status as a homeowner, and successful cheese business partner, decide he MUST be the right one for her, and demand that Rachel replace Lea at Moses' grandparents' home. Anna,the Grandmother (Mutty, I think), is no pushover; she manages to get the father to agree under a certain pretense, to let her have both Lea and Rachel there.
The character exposition is excellent. The opening scene with the grandparents chatting on the porch was of theatre calibre; you grow to care about these people very much. Though you will highly dislike how Lea's parents treat her and favor Rachel over her, the author still elicits compassion and understanding for them. You may hate how Rachel acts to finagle her way, but you still understand how she's been raised to be a very weak, and selfish person, and have some compassion. This drama forms the center of the novel, and what made it tedious for me was the length of time Lea spent in emotional pain, doubting and second guessing her feelings, and her willingness to never stand up for herself, even calmly, with the outright meanness of her sister. Also, you begin to wonder how Moses can have such a good time working with Lea, supporting and helping her with her goal in life of being a midwife, of often going out of his way to be a good friend, and, still be willing to be in that past commitment with Barbara, though the emotional fare is broth thin, with no real promise of redemption. Maybe I was tired, but that part was just a little too unclear, and little too long.
However, the right events occurred, and both Lea and Moses have their individual precipitations of awareness. At this point, I admired the inner strength of each of them very much. Though they didn't like Rachel's lack of consideration and scheming, they never, though angry, acted from that anger, even if tempted. I certainly was. The ending was not a "riding off into the sunset" but came of real, valuable changes in character.
The only thing I really disliked was the narrator, and will not listen to a book of hers again.
She had a good pace, but this was a lively, personable story,with much room for expression and delight, but her near monotone was just bearable for me. She did differentiate a few voices, but the writing and expression deserved rather more.
- Lanna S. Seuret