Healing Hearts is a compilation of three novellas by Beth Wiseman. The first is "A Choice to Forgive" which was originally published in An Amish Christmas. In this story, Daniel returns to his home community after 18 years away, much to the surprise of his first love, Lydia. Lydia had loved Daniel once, but after he disappeared one Christmas Eve with only a note, she moved on with her life. Married to Daniel's brother until his untimely death 2 years earlier, Lydia struggles with his return. She thought she had forgiven him years ago, but finds that may not be the case. There may be more to forgive than she thought. This is a sweet story of forgiveness and second chances. I was brought to tears a couple of times, especially during Lydia's earnest search for God and his will. I do find that many of the Amish stories I read include the death of a loved one and often the return of an old flame; however I enjoyed this quick read and found a strong message in it.
The second story in this collection is "A Change of Heart," which was originally published in An Amish Gathering. In it, Leah, a girl of 18, loves to write and is not so good at traditional Amish ways, like cooking, sewing, and gardening. Her sister's fiance has a brother who has always liked Leah's spark. He wants to court her, but Leah is not interested in marrying. By agreeing to read her book, they begin to spend time together. Unfortunately, her father wants her to help more around the house and not to write. On a journey with highs and lows, Leah "finds her way." I loved this one. I especially enjoyed Leah's character and how she writes about the Englisch. It is an interesting and unique twist. The romance was sweet and the relationship between her and her father was real and tangible. There was a clear message of being who God made you to be and not who others want you to be.
The final story is "Healing Hearts," originally published in An Amish Love. Naaman Lap returns home to his wife, Levina, after being gone for almost a year. His children have all married, and he felt lost and alone in a house with just his wife. Levina wants to forgive her husband; she wants to trust him again, but how can she after he abandoned her once already. Just as relationships seem to be healing a sheriff comes looking for Naaman, and Levina starts to doubt him once again. This was a beautiful story of God's will, of knowing God has a plan in everything even when you can't see it. It is a story of forgiveness and second chances, a story of love and marriage with real struggles. I really enjoyed the marital struggle and reconciliation in this one. So often in books love is made to look easy, and while falling in love usually is...human love needs to be nurtured or it will fade. The theme was strong and important.
I often find when reading novellas that I want more, which was the case with these three as well. This could be taken as a compliment because I liked them enough to want to read more; however, I am a character-oriented person, and in some places the characters could have been more developed. Overall, I really enjoyed these stories. They are light, easy reads with beautiful messages, and I would recommend this book. I will probably be looking for more by Beth Wiseman.
I received a free e-copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.
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I don't usually like novellas because the stories are not as fully developed compared to novels, but all 3 in this book were quite enjoyable. If you've not read any of Beth's other books, I hope you'll read her Daughters of the Promise series. Fast reads...every one of them. :o)
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