Merrimon Book Reviews

Sugarcreek, Ohio
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From Merrimon Book Reviews
Winter's Awakening
 Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray
  by Shelley Shepard Gray


When an English family moves to the small Amish town of Sugarcreek, residents re-examine familiar patterns, routines and expectations.  Until now, Joshua has had his life all planned out.  He works at the family store.  He will marry Gretta, the woman he has courted for years.  The sudden changes in Joshua hurt Gretta.  His sharpness and quietness feel all too much like the coldness of her parents.  Gretta wants something more out of a marriage.  With the changes in Joshua and his distancing, Gretta begins to consider a possible future with Roland.  With him, she would feel safe, but is that enough for a fulfilling marriage?  Is God answering her prayers in Roland?  Does God call her into a more challenging future, a future less safe but one that will fill her heart and challenge it to grow?  Lilly's family moved to Sugarcreek in order to protect her but her family does not listen to her desires.  Instead they plan for her.  When she meets Joshua, Lilly finds a neighbor and friend who listens, but can she truly trust him?  Will her secret drive him away?  When change threatens to disrupt all expectations and plans, will prayer and community together discover a fullness beyond the surface, a fullness that will both challenge and comfort the soul?  WINTER'S AWAKENING brings unexpected new understandings and closeness to the new and old residents of Sugarcreek.

In this, the first book of a second Amish inspirational series, WINTER'S AWAKENING takes readers into the heart of the Amish community of Sugarcreek through the characters of Joshua, Gretta and Lilly.  Shelley Shepard Grey both sets the scene and creates a moving inspirational romantic conflict.  Both Joshua and Gretta are admirable characters, but not so perfect that they lack depth and feeling.  In fact, the beauty of Shelley Shepard Gray's inspirational romances emerges from the richness and humanity she gives to her characters. 
WINTER'S AWAKENING creates a wonderful portrait of a traditional religious community and the individual residents as they struggle to incorporate faith and the longings of their hearts in themselves as individuals, the community in which they live and their understanding of God's plan.  Without preaching down to her audience, Shelley Shepard Gray creates a community through which God's presence can be seen in the events and hearts of her characters. 

Written in an easy-to-read style that flows naturally from page to page,
WINTER'S AWAKENING is not simplistic.  This inspirational romance will appeal on many levels from young to old, from those readers craving a light read to a more in-depth book study or church reading group discussion.  Ten thoughtful questions (or groups of questions) are included at the end to guide reading and group discussions.  In this reader's opinion, WINTER'S AWAKENING makes Shelley Shepard Gray one of the most stunning inspirational writers writing today.  Not only will WINTER'S AWAKENING appeal to the traditional inspirational romance audience but also to the wider community of faith on account of the author's ability to present meaningful questions of faith and relationships that are not limited by denominational or political interpretations of Christianity.   While the author gives the reader an insider's look into the Amish community, she also centers on those essential moments of the heart and of faith that unite the wider community.  If you love inspirational romance, Shelley Shepard Gray's WINTER'S AWAKENING is the best of the best.  Even if you do not typically include inspirational romance in your repertoire of spiritual reading, Shelley Shepard Gray would be one of the first in the genre to try, in this reader's opinion, on account of the author's exquisite storytelling abilities and the art of her writing.  A beautiful inspiring romance!

Publisher: Avon Inspire  (Feb. 2, 2010)
Series: Seasons of Sugarcreek
Other books in the series: Spring's Renewal (May 2010), Autumn's Promise (August 2010)
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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