Rachel's Garden

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Rachel's Garden

Pleasant Valley Series #2

Rachel Brand had a good life, a loving husband, a thriving dairy farm and 3 healthy children until a barn that her husband was checking out clasped killing him and injuring his best friend, Gideon Zook. Now, almost a year later Rachel is trying to make decisions that will affect not only her life but those of her children. It all starts when Gideon comes to build the greenhouse that Ezra, Rachel’s husband, had asked him to build for her birthday.
Gideon was Ezra’s best friend. They grew up together and still did many things together even though they were not at all alike. Ezra was always on the move and was seemly fearless. Gideon was much slower and steadier. They complimented each other.
Rachel’s oldest brother-in-law thinks the greenhouse is not necessary. He wants to buy the farm for his oldest son. Ezra’s youngest brother does much of the work around the dairy farm and thinks himself in love with Rachel. He even asks Rachel to marry him. The man that buys the milk wants to buy the cows and lease the barn and land. Rachel isn’t sure what she wants to do. She’s enjoying selling some of the plants she grows but could she actually make a business?
To further confuse her, she finds her feelings towards Gideon to be swinging in all directions. Can she forgive him for living while Ezra did not? Strange things are occurring on the farm. Could it be someone trying to force Rachel to their will?
This is the second book in this wonderful Amish series set in Pleasant Valley, PA. While the town is fictional, it reflects many towns in the PA area and the Amish way of life. Characters from the previous book are in this one but you don’t have to read the previous book to thoroughly enjoy this one. 
The characters are very real and well rounded. They have histories, families and friends. The even have traits that are not typically associated with the Amish like being stubborn. The women aren’t doormats but partners. The men, for the most part, aren’t dictators. Children misbehave and taxes come do. In other words, they are just like you and me except for their religious beliefs which influence their lives.
Religion is a core element in this book and prayer as well as Biblical references abound. That isn’t to say that this book is preachy because its not. It does mean that Rachel, Gideon and everyone else recognizes that there is a higher power and they relay on God in their every day lives and how they interact with friends, family and English. 
I really liked this book and enjoy visiting Pleasant Valley. The community there is alive and loving. Reading this book gives me a warm feeling. That’s not to say everything is happiness and light but that because of their firm beliefs, you get the feeling that you’re not alone in this journey of life. 
Throughout the book Pennsylvania Dutch words are used but in such a way that you understand what is trying to be said. For me, I recalled hearing many of these words in my youth between my mother and grandmother. But, for those that don’t have any idea or want to learn, there is a very nice glossary in the back of the book. From working in a Mennonite community I can attest that members switch back and forth between Dutch and English without much difficulty. 
Having finished this book and glimpsed at the preview for the next, I look forward to reading Amy’s story. I truly love this community and its people!

(Don't look for any hot sex scenes because they aren't in this book.  The hottest scene contains a kiss at a singing.)

Book Blurb for Rachel's Garden

The next in a series of Amish-set novels in which a woman's close- knit community helps her through challenging times.

It has been almost a year since the Amish community of Pleasant Valley lost Ezra Brand to tragedy. Now his wife Rachel struggles to raise their three children and run their farm.

Rachel's friends and family have come forward to help. But all of their constant advice, however well intentioned, puts undue pressure on Rachel. And when Gideon Zook, Ezra's best friend, asks her permission to build the greenhouse Ezra had always promised her, she finds his presence too painful a reminder of losing her husband. 

As spring turns to summer, and Rachel puts her heart into growing the plants that have always brought her joy, can she discover the courage to embrace new beginnings?

Night Owl Reviews May, 2010 5.00