An Amish Family Christmas
Christmas is a time for miracles, family, and happiness. This fourth book of The Charmed Amish Life series tells the story of bad boy Levi Kinsinger, who’s returned home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family – and the season has a miracle in store for him.
When Levi’s father suffered a sudden and untimely death in a fire at the family lumber mill, Levi was beside himself with grief. He found living in the family home with all the memories of his daed around him unbearable, so he ran away to Florida to work with a construction company.
Now, Levi is back in town, but his grief still remains unresolved. He realizes that during the time he was gone, his family has moved forward with their lives and found love and happiness. While he is very glad to be back in Charm, and very glad to be back in the good graces of his family, he finds himself alienated from them. He is still grieving, while the rest of them have come to terms with it.
Levi decides to move out of the family home, a decision that the oldest brother, Lukas, is vehemently against. But Levi prevails and moves into a run-down, dirty, dismal house on Jupiter Street. It is hard for Levi to tell if his sisters, Rebecca and Amelia, are more dismayed at the condition of his house or the fact that he is living on his own. Housekeeping is not Levi’s strong suit, and let’s just say, pigsties are cleaner.
In the meantime, Julia Kemp and her five-year-old daughter, Penny, have moved in across the street. Julia works hard at the fabric and notions store in town, while Penny goes to the local Amish school.
Levi and Julia meet when Julia locks herself out of her house in the middle of one winter night, when the temperature hovers around the twenty-degree mark. She’s searching in the snow on her hands and knees for a rock to break in when Levi, on the way home from his job at the family lumber mill, sees her and is horrified when he realizes what this delicate-looking woman is doing. Luckily, he has a bunch of skeleton keys and is able to help them get in.
And so begins their tentative acquaintance. It is Penny who first wins Levi over with her joy in his presence and her innate sweetness.
When Levi confesses his lack of housekeeping skills, Julia offers to be his cleaning-lady, confessing that she needs to save up to buy an expensive doll for Penny that she has set her heart on. Julia has never been able to afford many toys – and never expensive ones at that – and she’s determined that Penny should have this doll. Levi reluctantly agrees to the housekeeping arrangement.
There are cozy get-togethers of cards, popcorn, and hot chocolate as the three draw in close together. Julia and Levi are clearly attracted to one another and Levi feels very protective of both Julia and her daughter.
However, unbeknownst to Levi, Julia is harboring a secret that she finds shameful. Over the objections of her parents and sister, Julia stepped out with Luther. He was very charming and courted her parents, too, winning them over and getting their consent to the marriage. Once the engagement was formalized, however, Luther changed. He became very possessive and controlling, and compelled Julia to sleep with him. And to Julia’s everlasting shame, she complied. He abused her verbally and physically, but Julia was too ashamed to tell her parents what was going on.
When she found out she was pregnant, she decided that if she wanted a safe and loving environment for her child, she had to leave Luther. So one day, without informing her parents, she ran away. She changed her name, styles herself as a widow, and works in a motel as a maid while raising her daughter. When the motel closes, she moves to Charm to start a new life.
An Amish Family Christmas is a charming romantic tale. I loved seeing how Levi’s rough edges are smoothened out by Julia’s steady and accepting regard and Penny’s joy. We see Levi’s arc towards happiness even as we see Julia’s. It is wonderful to see them, bit by bit, starting to trust each other as their attraction and warm feelings towards each other grow.
I enjoyed this book much more than the previous book in the series, A Sister’s Wish, because unlike the latter, this book remains focused on Levi’s and Julia’s story, and every story thread goes towards revealing their individual personalities and values and their developing relationship. This book also does a lot more showing of the romance, but my quibble is that there is still a fair bit of telling going on.
These two books have been my first foray into Amish Inspirational romances, and I have enjoyed a look into the Amish life in Ohio and the small-town feel of these stories in which neighbors come together to support each other and guard against strangers.