Title: Her Brother’s Keeper by Beth Wiseman
Amish Secrets Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Amish, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Charlotte came to Amish country to find answers. What she never expected to find was peace.
Charlotte Dolinsky is not above playing dress-up and telling a few lies to find out what happened to her only brother. In fact, that is exactly what she’s come to Lancaster County to do. Now, calling herself Mary and slipping on a kapp, Charlotte will lie her way into the confidence of anyone who knows why Ethan had to die. Unless she gets found out first.
But when Charlotte befriends a quiet Amish man named Isaac Miller, she begins to rethink her motives. And with a little help from a friend back home, Charlotte might find out that love comes packaged in ways she couldn’t have foreseen.
Isaac’s been caring for his cancer-stricken father and sympathizing with his frustrated mother for three difficult years. And that means he hasn’t been dating. He believes Hannah King is the woman for him, but Hannah is still grieving the loss of her fiancé, and Isaac has all he can handle on the farm. When Hannah’s family plays host to a woman named Mary, their new cousin shakes things up for all of them.
As Charlotte digs deeper into the mystery of Ethan’s death, she finds more than she’d bargained for in the community he once called home. But will she ever learn the truth? And what will the community—and her new family—do if they learn the truth about her?
Fans of Amish fiction are going to love Beth Wiseman’s newest release, Her Brother’s Keeper. This first installment in the Amish Secrets series has a very unique and fascinating storyline but it is the characters that make it such an outstanding read.
Charlotte Dolinsky is determined to find answers about her brother Ethan’s death in Lancaster County. Dissatisfied by answers she receives from his fiancée Hannah King, Charlotte devises a scheme to do little undercover sleuthing in the Amish community. Armed with a little knowledge of the Amish faith, she poses as a distant cousin of the Kings and they open their home (and eventually their hearts) to her. But Charlotte is woefully unprepared for Amish life and she quickly discovers there is much more to being Amish than donning a kapp and living without electricity. She grows increasingly uncomfortable with the lies she must tell to divert their suspicions but when she begins to care for Hannah and her family, Charlotte is torn between ending her deception or continuing to seek answers about her brother’s death.
Charlotte and Ethan’s abusive childhood left permanent scars on both of them. Charlotte finds it difficult to trust or get close to people while Ethan suffered from depression off and on over the years. Neither has much of a spiritual background so Charlotte found Ethan’s newfound faith difficult to believe and she harbored serious reservations about his engagement to an Amish woman. Learning of his suicide devastated Charlotte and she is desperate to understand why someone on the verge of marriage would suddenly and inexplicably take his own life.
Charlotte’s crash course in Amish living provides the basics (i.e. dress, common dialogue, etc) but as she quickly discovers, there is much she does not know. She quickly realizes how unrealistic her scheme is but she comes up with very plausible explanations for her mistakes. While she comes to appreciate some of the Amish lifestyle, she is very uneasy with the spiritual aspects she encounters.
Charlotte is surprised by how much she likes Hannah and she cleverly works discussions about Ethan into their conversations. Hannah’s answers to her probing questions are not completely satisfying but their surprisingly in depth exchanges about faith begin to resonate with Charlotte. Discussions with Ethan’s best friend Ryan also aid Charlotte on her spiritual awakening but this journey has just begun when her deception is uncovered. Although the Amish are quick to forgive, will this prove to be the case for the King family and the other members of their community?
There is also a slight romantic element to Her Brother’s Keeper, but these relationships are not the focus of the novel. Charlotte and Ethan’s friend Isaac go on a few dates but it is soon apparent that their relationship is strictly platonic. Isaac is really interested in Hannah but he is afraid it is too soon to ask her out since she appears to be still mourning Ethan’s death. Hannah is caught off guard by her jealousy when Isaac and Charlotte begin dating and she becomes quite introspective as she tries to overcome her unexpected feelings. This contemplation is surprisingly useful and helps her move through the grieving process.
Her Brother’s Keeper is a heartfelt and poignant novel and Beth Wiseman tackles some very difficult subjects with a great deal of sensitivity. The faith portion of the storyline is realistic and it is absolutely delightful watching Charlotte begin her spiritual journey. There is also a bit of a suspense aspect to the novel as Charlotte tries to uncover the truth about the circumstances leading up to Ethan’s death. All in all, it is an absolutely incredible beginning to the Amish Secrets series that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installment.