Title: Keys of Heaven by Adina Senft
Healing Grace Series Book Two
Genre: Contemporary, Amish, Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Sarah Yoder is learning to help the people in her Amish community as a Dokterfraa, creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. But her latest patient seems to have a problem that can’t be resolved with Sarah’s remedies-a woman who, in Sarah’s mind, would flourish anywhere other than where she lives. Meanwhile, as Sarah’s relatives attempt a little matchmaking between her and a visiting Amish man, she struggles to let God show her His choice of partner and not allow her friendship with her neighbor, Henry Byler, to grow into anything more.
Henry has seen some success as a potter since a major store commissioned his work for their catalog. But the trouble is they want to market him as Amish. Though he was raised in the faith and lives in Amish country, Henry has never joined church and doesn’t plan to. Which also means, despite the attraction between them, he must keep his distance from Sarah. But what will happen when Sarah and Henry are called upon to help a runaway whose Englisch family is blind to how lost their son has become? The plant Sarah calls Keys of Heaven can grow in impossible places, but it’s hard for people to find their own place, which creates quite a temptation for Sarah to take matters into her own hands…
Keys of Heaven is an absolutely charming addition to Adina Senft’s delightful Healing Grace series featuring herbalist in training Sarah Yoder. This second installment expands on some of the storylines introduced in Herb of Grace while new story arcs keep this fabulous series fresh. While Keys of Heaven can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading the previous novel to fully appreciate the characters’ personal growth. But the main reason I suggest reading them in order is because it is such a magnificent series!
Sarah is widowed mother of two and she has been struggling to make ends meet for quite some time when she begins an apprenticeship as an herbalist. Along with her herbal remedies, Sarah dispenses advice to her patients, but does she always know what is best for the people in her care? Her latest patient, Linda Peachy, is open to trying the herbs she prescribes, but Sarah’s suggestions for her personal life are not exactly welcome. Sarah gets a taste of her own medicine when her well meaning family tries their hand at matchmaking when an Amish man arrives for a visit. And last on her list of worrisome concerns, Sarah’s attempts to distance herself from her neighbor Henry Byler are complicated when the two offer to help an Englisch runaway explore his passion to become an artist.
Sarah is such a kind-hearted woman it is impossible not to like her. Her attempts to help her friends and neighbors are well-meaning but her efforts sometimes result in her overstepping her boundaries. This also leads to her sometimes passing judgment on her neighbors when she does not have all her facts about their situation. Despite the mistakes she makes in her overzealous efforts to help others, Sarah has a serene quality that is very soothing and when she finds herself becoming frazzled or unsure, her strong faith balances and comforts her.
The one person who continually keeps her off balance is her neighbor Henry. She is drawn to him but since he never joined the church, there can be nothing but friendship between them despite their mutual attraction. Sarah is nonplussed by her jealousy of Henry’s close relationship with Ginny Hochstetler, the owner of a local B&B and her idle speculation about the couple leads a misunderstanding that could lead to a permanent rift between Sarah and Henry.
In Keys of Heaven, there are quite a few secondary story arcs but the novel is very easy to follow. The different storylines add to the characters’ growth and make it easy for the subsequent books in the series to continue building on the previous story’s unresolved issues. In addition, the cliffhanger-ish endings will leave readers impatiently but eagerly awaiting the next novel in this outstanding series.
With the Healing Grace series, Adina Senft has crafted a warm and inviting community through her cast of well-developed and appealing characters, her gentle lessons of faith and storylines that are realistic and relevant in today’s world.