A Crime of the Heart
Some time ago a friend of mine recommended A Crime of the Heart as a good cry-your-eyes-out kind of read. I am only occasionally in the mood to cry my eyes out, so this one has sat neglected in the TBR for at least a year. But as I was picking out books to read for my week at the cottage, my fingers halted over this spine. It’s been awhile since read Reavis, I thought, why not? Now I’m wondering why in the heck I’m not reading more Cheryl Reavis?”
A Crime of the Heart is a tearjerker because it’s an Amish book and revolves around the dilemma of choosing between love and being Amish. For many years Quinn Tyler and Adam Sauder were the best of friends. Quinn’s mother, though “English,” taught the local Amish kids, and Quinn spent every moment she could in Adam’s house. When they grew to be older, however, this friendship became dangerous, and Adam’s father, Jacob, sought to separate the two of them. In love and in angry reaction, the two of them became secret lovers. And then Quinn got pregnant.
Quinn loved Adam’s Amishness. She always wanted to be Amish herself. The one thing she couldn’t bear to take away from Adam was his way of living and his family. So she went away and found a family who wanted to adopt her son. And then she went into a lengthy mourning for her lost baby and her lost lover. Eleven years later she returns to Lancaster County and buys up what she can of what had been her father’s farm. Life as a head accountant for a brokerage firm in Philadelphia has given her a bleeding ulcer, and she’s decided to work from home and at a slower pace. Almost immediately upon her return she runs into Adam – he’s been hired as a contracted carpenter to help repair her kitchen. Sparks fly between them, but is it love or hate? Will they be able to move beyond what happened between them so long ago?
Where to start, where to start? There’s lots of rich stuff to talk about here. The conflict that Reavis sets up between Adam and Quinn is a throat clogger. Quinn loves the Amish, Quinn can’t be Amish, Adam can’t be Amish if he marries her, Adam can’t live without Quinn. There is just no way tears aren’t going to be shed. Reavis does a nice job of telling the story of their childhood love in a short page space. She also clearly respects the Amish way of life and manages to incorporate a lot of detail about Plain living without it sounding like textbook introduction.
Adam’s family also comes to life, and even when they are actively campaigning against Adam and Quinn’s relationship, they don’t seem like terrible people. Rather they seem like loving people who want their family to be whole and want their way of life to continue. They are also humble and not afraid to ask forgiveness or to give it. Some of the most poignant scenes involve Adam’s father Jacob and Quinn. And Adam’s little brother, Daniel, is so sweet and funny. His speech is endearing too, as his native language is a dialect of German and so his English is interestingly expressive of his thoughts.
The matter of the adoption of Quinn’s son is delicately handled and not presented as a whim or a mistake. Quinn wonders if she made the right decision for Adam and for her, but she never wonders if her son is being taken care of. The adoption choice is presented as a choice made out of love. Adam’s feelings about the adoption are complicated by the fact that he wasn’t involved in the decision, and his heartache comes across loud and clear, but by the book’s end he’s come to terms with it and can be at peace.
The story does have a few flaws. Adam and Quinn are developed as characters in as much as they are two halves of one whole. The flashbacks to their childhoods do tell that story. But what they’ve been doing in the interim 11 years is glossed over. Reavis also never explored Quinn’s ethnic and religious background, and in the absence of that information, one can’t help but wonder what kind of problems are likely to crop up in the marriage if the two of them can’t agree on holidays, theology, household chore division, etc. Perhaps that sounds silly, but I really wanted to know.
Silhouette Special Editions usually have a couple of love scenes, but one would have been sufficient here. The second one felt a lot like padding, and given Adam’s background, it might be more likely that he’d have waited until the wedding to celebrate the wedding night.
A Crime of the Heart is a bittersweet story of lasting love and second chances. The HEA is not without some major sacrifices, but I finished the story feeling good about these characters and their ability to persevere and make a new life and a new family for themselves. If you like books that evoke that heart-in-your-throat feeling, this would be an excellent book to track down.