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Sisters of the Heart, Book 3

When Winnie Lundy is injured due to a fire at her brother’s farm, she ends up spending some time at the hospital about an hour away from their home. Eli, who came with her in the ambulance, has a brother, Sam, who lives nearby. Sam is willing to come visit with Winnie and help translate for her.
 Samuel, Sam, Miller left the Amish church to attend school. He had a need to learn and now was a professor at the local college teaching agriculture. He’s kept many of the beliefs from his childhood and is stuck not fitting in the Amish world or the “English” one. Because he had never joined the church, Sam is able to visit his family freely. 
Winnie and Sam knew each other as children attending the church’s one room schoolhouse. They haven’t seen each other for years and each is a bit surprised when they feel a spark towards the other. For Winnie to join Sam in the world, she would be shunned by the Amish. For Sam to return to the Amish, he would have to give up everything of the world and revert back to similar, plainer ways. Winnie would never ask that of Sam so knows that despite the attraction, it would not develop into anything more.
The fire marshal has determined that the fire at Winnie’s brother Jonathan’s farm was caused from a cigarette. Was it some English teen looking for a place to experiment or could it be one of the Amish teens? Jonathan feels he needs to know who did this before he can forgive them even though the bishop has said to let it go. Sam and his older brother, Eli are worried about their younger brother, Caleb. Could it be Caleb? If it is one of the Amish youth, will they have the faith to come forward?
Though this book is the last in a trilogy, I found it very enjoyable. The story stood alone very well and while you have an idea of whom the first two books may have been about, it does not distract from this one. 
The Amish are a society that many are curious about but few get to learn about. The portrayal of this community is done very well, for it is a community. Many aspects of this very religious community are explored in a manner that is not preachy but presented as if the actions and words are normal. This community revolves around their religious beliefs. These beliefs include forgiveness where many would say pay back. They also include strict roles for men and women as well as children. 
The characters were given personalities and some dimension. There is a view that everyone within the Amish community thinks alike. In this story, it becomes apparent that each person is an individual with their own thoughts and desires. Sam shares his quest for schooling and knowledge. Winnie accepts that she is sometimes too outspoken. Jonathon is willing to bend what the bishop has said. There are no blind sheep following the leader but individuals with their own minds.
While Sam and Winnie are exploring their relationship or possible relationship, it is done within the context of what is acceptable in an Amish community. There are no meetings on the sly or amorous scenes. There is a learning of each other. A quick kiss and holding of hands is about as far as this couple goes and in this community that is quite far enough!
I whipped right though this book. I found it interesting and it definitely kept my interest. While there is plenty of “religious” stuff mentioned, it’s within the context of a religious community so it comes across as natural and normal. The mystery of who set the fire is solved and resolution done though again, not in a manner that would be considered normal in most communities. Sam and Winnie’s romance was sweet and full of it’s own surprises. 
I have never read any of Ms Gray’s books but I look forward to finding more.

Book Blurb for Forgiven

Tragedy strikes­—a brother and sister find themselves facing a situation that will shape the rest of their lives.

When a fire destroys the Lundys' barn, Winnie is injured trying to get the animals to safety. Confined to a hospital for weeks, out of touch with her loved ones who live too far away to visit by buggy, she must depend on Englisher Samuel Miller to keep her company. Though his family is part of Winnie's tight-knit Amish community, Samuel left years earlier to pursue a university education. Through conversations, and Samuel's dedication to her recovery, a friendship forms. But despite their growing attraction, Winnie knows it can never develop into something more as long as Samuel chooses to remain in the outside world.

When Winnie returns home, she finds her brother, Jonathan, struggling with his own dilemma. Cigarette butts were discovered in the debris of the barn and Jonathan is determined to find out who is responsible for destroying his property and putting his family at risk. But in a community founded on grace and forgiveness, will his unwillingness to move on eat away at the trust that is the foundation of their lives?

Night Owl Reviews Oct, 2009 4.75