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Marriage Can Be Mischief–cold case surfaces

Marriage Can Be Mischief

by Amanda Flower

Millie, a widowed member of the Amish community in Harvest, Ohio, supports her modest lifestyle by making quilts. Her extra talents are matchmaker and sleuth. Lois, her Englisch best friend from childhood who loves being her sidekick, calls her the Amish Marple. The two have some wild and sometimes dangerous adventures in the pursuit of truth.

In Marriage Can Be Mischief, a human skull is found at the bottom of a ravine. This discovery leads to the reopening of a cold case in which forty years ago Samuel Zook, a disagreeable buggy maker, was found dead at the top of that same ravine in his buggy. His wife Galilee had disappeared. As Millie and Lois investigate, they find several people with strong motives for wanting Samuel dead. The sheriff closes the case again when the skull is identified, but Deputy Little and Millie think it is important to pursue it to give justice to the victim.

There is a lot of humor mixed into the story as Phillip and Peter, Millie’s two pet goats, continue their mischievous antics. When Lois inserts references to media in conversations (e.g. James Bond), Millie is totally lost as to the meanings. Media is just not a part of the Amish lifestyle.

Ruth Yoder, the bishop’s very particular and exacting wife, plays a recurring important role in the story. When Millie matches up Phoebe, Ruth’s granddaughter, with Lad Zook who will one day inherit his family’s buggy business, Ruth must insert herself into the relationship. Millie has a love interest of her own when an old flame moves to the area. She has to decide if she is ready for a new relationship. Her husband Kip has been dead for twenty years, but she still loves him.

This is a very busy book, but the parts tie together nicely. I felt like I was in the middle of the community, and I cared about the characters. The contrast of the Amish and Englisch ways, without passing judgement on either, is well done.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Christian

Notes: This is #3 in the Amish Matchmaker Mystery Series. It would be OK to read this book as a standalone, but it would be worth your time to read the first two for character backgrounds and humor. This also ties in with another Amish mystery series by Amanda Flower which is also set in Harvest, but although some characters from that series make cameo appearances in this one, the two series are independent.

Publication: November 30, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

…the light was breaking through the trees. I let out a breath. Sunrise was my very favorite part of the day. Each morning offered new opportunity and ways to give thanks to Gott for this life.

She sniffed and patted the white prayer cap on the back of her head as if to be sure it was perfectly in place. Of course it was; a prayer cap would know better than to move on Ruth Yoder.

“Who is your wife’s cousin?” “The sheriff. He’s no friend of the Amish, I can tell you that. If he knew we had an Amish man living on our farm, he would be fit to be tied. Honestly, we don’t talk to him much. He’s a sour person. Life is too short to be around people like that.”

Courting Can Be Killer–partially requited love

Courting Can Be Killer

by Amanda Flower

Millie Fisher, the “sedate Amish woman,” and Lois Henry, the “flamboyant Englisher,” join forces again to solve a murder, one quite personal to Millie. Don’t worry If you missed the first book in the Amish Matchmaker Mystery Series as author Amanda Flower is quite skilled in providing background information. There are also tie-ins to Flower’s Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, but the two function independently of each other.

In Courting Can Be Killer, Millie and Lois were childhood friends and are now in their sixties. They are as opposite as possible, but they complement each other and prize their friendship. Lois loves being the sidekick of the “Amish Marple” and is a bonus to the relationship because she is not bound in her investigations by the strict Amish code, sometimes stretching the truth until it breaks. Her driving a car and having a cell phone are quite handy as well.

When a fire breaks out in a flea market, Millie’s “adopted nephew” Ben is found dead. Rumors spread fast in the Amish community that Ben, who recently moved to the area and is therefore considered an outsider, is responsible for the fire. The duo set out to defend the young man’s reputation. In the process, Millie comes under attack although the long-suffering Deputy Sheriff Aiden has warned her numerous times that her interviewing various suspects is dangerous. Lois, however, is delighted as she see the assault as a sign that they are getting close to discovering the murderer.

Woven into the main plot are some potential romances as Millie is known as the local matchmaker. Animals provide both chaos and humor as Jethro the potbellied pig makes an appearance, and Millie’s two mischievous Boer goats, Phillip and Peter, cause havoc and provide protection. The Amish are not immune from having dysfunctional families, and we meet several in this cozy mystery. The ending is a surprise and justice is served. The epilogue gives closure for the characters with a little positive philosophy thrown in as well, and the sound advice is from the Englischer!

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Amish Matchmaker Mystery Series

Publication: December 1, 2020—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“…in this life one should always be willing to take a chance and roll the dice.” She grinned. “That sounds like one of the Amish proverbs you recite all the time, doesn’t it?” “It doesn’t.” I shook my head. “Not at all.”

“I knew when my second husband bought a singing bass for our living room wall that there were no more rules when it came to good taste.”

A feeling of peace came over me. I knew the Good Lord had moved Lois to come and check on me. It gave me comfort to know this, and the fear I had been holding onto all evening started to melt away.

The Brides of the Big Valley: Three Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community

The Brides of the Big Valley: Three Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community

by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean B. Brunstetter and Richelle B. Brunstetter

The Brides of the Big ValleyThree different Brunstetter authors have combined to create three equally good short Amish romances all set in Big Valley located in Mifflin County. The Amish situation that is unique in this area is that in the 1840’s the congregation broke into three groups based on beliefs, customs, and later the colors on the tops of their horse drawn buggies.

Deanna’s Determination by Wanda E. Brunstetter tells the story of Deanna Speicher, a young Amish widow with a sweet little boy who has Down syndrome. She lives with her father and contributes to their support by creating quilted goods to sell at the local flea market. Her deceased husband’s best friend, Elmer, is the romantic interest in this story until tragedy strikes again. Will Deanna and Elmer’s love survive the new crisis?

In Rose Mary’s Resolve, by Jean B. Brunstetter, we are introduced to a family that was mentioned in the first story, the Rennos, who own a furniture company. With older sister Linda getting married, Rose Mary is learning the ins and outs of the show room so she can help in the family business. Romance is in the air as Tom Yoder courts Rose Mary, but problems arise as Tom thinks of going Englisch and pressures Rose Mary on all of their decisions. Meanwhile Kevin literally drops out of the sky as he crash lands in the Renno field and develops an interest in Rose Mary and the Amish way. Will Rose Mary stay true to God and her family customs?

Leila’s Longing by Richelle Brunstetter is the story of Leila Fisher, a shy young lady who was bullied at school when she was younger and now carries the emotional scars of those experiences. She is a gifted artist, creating sketches and making greeting cards and selling them. Will her new friends Aden and his sister Sue and her new employee Mollie be able to help her emerge from her reclusiveness? Will anyone ever want to court her?

The Brides of the Big Valley is comprised of three novellas, gentle stories combined to make an interesting tale for a calm afternoon’s reading. The characters are likable and the plots are not overly predictable. God and faith are an important part of these tales.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Barbour Publishing (Shiloh Run Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:  4/5

Category: Christian Fiction, Romance

Publication:   June 1, 2019— Barbour Publishing (Shiloh Run Press)

Memorable Lines:

I bet Rose Mary would say anything is possible with the Lord’s help. But can He truly help me through my relationship with Dad, by repairing the bridge across the chasm that exists between us?

She’d been too trusting of others when she was young, which caused her to be suspicious of disloyalty. No matter how nice she was to others, she didn’t receive kindness in return. That was why it was easier for her to not even try.

When life gets at its worst or drags us down, reading God’s Word provides guidance on good living.”

Premeditated Peppermint–another cooking reality show?

Premeditated Peppermint

by Amanda Flower

Premeditated PeppermintI passed on the first two books in this series as the idea of a cozy mystery themed around an Amish candy shop just didn’t sound like it had enough excitement and pizazz for me. Then I read a few books by this author, Amanda Flower, from a different series and realized I should give the Amish Candy Shop Series a try. I’m glad I did.

Bailey, an Englischer, moves from New York City to help her Amish grandmother with the family candy shop. As Bailey, her grandmother, and cousin Charlotte get ready to display their peppermint themed goodies at the town’s Christmas Market, Bailey’s former boyfriend Eric, a pastry chef, invades the town of Harvest with a television crew. His motives are mixed and at odds with the Amish beliefs and traditions. The quiet town is soon upended by a murder. Is the murderer a local or one of the big city imports?

In Premeditated Peppermint, as Bailey tries to solve the mystery, we meet an interesting group of locals. Aiden is a deputy sheriff and he and Bailey seem drawn to each other. His mother, Juliet, is a hoot as she divides her time and attention between her adorable pot-bellied pig Jethro and possibilities of a romance for the young couple. Margot is on the town council and manages to keep everyone stirred up with exciting plans to promote the town. Emily is a young Amish girl with family difficulties. The Keims have a Christmas tree farm. There are an assortment of other characters who fill out the story.

This is not a purely Amish story. The Amish customs are contrasted with those of their Englischer neighbors. There are even mixed families, and the problems that causes are evident. At appropriate times, there is snowfall and it is easy to visualize rural Ohio and sense the frigid temperatures. Although not a cliffhanger all the way through, it doesn’t need to be. There is plenty of interest in solving the crime and in the personal relationships to keep the story going. The ending surprised me.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the Amish Candy Shop Series, but I had no problem following the story as a standalone

  2. Recipe for Peppermint Bark included

Publication:  September 25, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

People in the big cities are craving a simpler country life even if they wouldn’t last more that three seconds outside their area code.

“It’s all here…The charming small town, the sense of community and family. Second chances at love. You know, the feel-good family stuff that TV watchers like to gobble up while ignoring their own families.”

“…there are Amish who get in trouble too, just like there are English who get in trouble. There is no cultural escape from trouble.”

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