Merrimon Book Reviews

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Sugarcreek, Ohio
(red dot on map)



From Merrimon Book Reviews
Spring's Renewal
 Spring's Renewal by Shelly Shepard Grey
  by Shelley Shepard Gray

Tim Graber isn't all that anxious to come to Sugarcreek.  After all, he has a sweetheart at home.  Tim loves his aunt and uncle, however, so he plans to help them through the season and then go home to the life he planned.  When he meets Clara, a teacher at the local school, Tim finds himself drawn to her.  Clara Slabaugh loves her job teaching young children.  With the children, Clara's self-consciousness about her appearance disappears as does the barrier between herself and others.  An accident left Clara with burns on her face and arms.  Clara has resigned herself to the fact that love and family will never be hers but when she meets Tim, he opens her heart in new ways.  He even makes her feel pretty.  Does she dare hope for the life of her dreams?  Both Tim and Clara have definite plans for their lives, plans that make their futures separate.  When a terrifying event comes to Sugarcreek, will their prayers open their hearts in new ways?  Does God have a way of renewing their hearts so that new pathways and possibilities open to them?

SPRING'S RENEWAL, the second Amish inspirational romance in the Sugarcreek series after WINTER'S AWAKENING, has characters that will steal your heart, an exciting story with several intriguing twists, and a romance that renews one's faith.  SPRING'S RENEWAL is my absolate favorite romance by this author.  Clara is a superb romance heroine!  A reader just wants to know her and roots for her.  Clara is bright and independent but she has a sensitive heart as well.  She is a wounded soul yet a woman strong in her faith.  Tim is the perfect man for Clara, a man who sees her beauty inside and out.  Although he makes youthful mistakes, he also has a steadiness and honesty with himself deep down.  When push comes to shove, he knows when to stand up for love.  In a brief romantic moment, Tim knows exactly how to reach Clara's heart.  Without explicit details that are inappropriate for younger readers or those older readers wanting less graphic details but more romance, Shelley Shepard Gray creates the most memorable, heartwarming moments that stick with a reader long after the last page.

SPRING'S RENEWAL creates multi-dimensional characters and relationships.  Shelley Shepard Gray does an excellent job in the portrayal of Clara's relationship with her mother.  She does not gloss over the difficulties of this relationship, but rather creates emotional depth in their characters.  She brings unique insights into her male characters as well.   The ending of this romance is all the more powerful and satisfying because of the obstacles the young couple faces.  Shelley Shepard Gray does an excellent job in her portrayal with the emotions and thoughts
of youthful first love.  For young readers, her vision instills hope, courage and comfort.  For older readers, the generosity of spirit gives a new and hopeful perspective on one's own past.

For readers who have been following the series, one feels a special delight in revisiting familiar characters while getting to know the stories of newer characters.   If you are new to the series and do not like spoilers, however, reading WINTER'S AWAKENING first would be the best plan of action because SPRING'S RENEWAL follows chronologically from the previous book.  A series of reading questions will help book club or church group discussions as well as enrich an individual's own reading.  Shelley Shepard Gray's Amish inspirational romances will appeal to romance readers across the wider Christian community.  The author has the ability to develop meaningful themes of faith and spirituality that resonate within.  Shelley Shepard Gray is an excellent storyteller.  Here, faith emerges from the story itself amd the life of her characters.  SPRING'S RENEWAL is not only the best romance I have read by this author, but also the best inspirational romance this reader has read to date.  Outstanding!

Publisher: Avon Inspire  (April 27, 2010)
Series: Seasons of Sugarcreek
Other books in the series: Winter's Awakening (February 2010), Autumn's Promise (August 2010)
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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