After I devoured Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer, I didn't hesitate to purchase Captive Heart because, well, I wanted more. I fell in love with the characters and their story. Having just read and loved the first book, I was really thrilled to find the second one, which was released recently. I sat back and was ready to devour and savor this book.
Unlike other Amish fiction, this one reads more similar to a historical fiction rather than a romance fiction. It certainly has romance; the author doesn't fail on that end one bit. He does such a splendid job of developing the setting and events of this time period in Mexico that it draws one's attention away, periodically, from the romance to the historical aspects. My love for Amish fiction and for historical novels comes together in this book and in Paradise Valley.
This is the continuing story of Caleb Bender and his family who left their home, friends, and family to begin a new Amish settlement in the early 1920s Mexico. More families have joined them, babies are born, and love is renewed. The families have learned to build homes from handmade clay bricks. They've discovered the advantages of mild winters. And, new friends have been made. All is going well, for awhile.
The gun-wielding bandits are still riding about the area, tormenting the families. The pacifist Amish farmers not only have to endure the thievery but they have to find ways to protect their families from harm. Thankfully, they have a new friend, a native, who helps them, but there is only so much he can do. The families endure joy of being reunited with loved ones, but they also have to endure sadness and disease, kidnapping and fear.
Characters from the first book are further developed. We learn more about Miriam this time and her struggles between a new love and family. Jake and Rachel have new troubles to overcome. Caleb, the father, still remains strong and faithful. One real treat, though, is more focus on Ada. I'm so glad that the author did more with her character. Let's not forget the Mexican who, in the night, pointed the way for Ada.
If one enjoys Amish fiction, this, along with Paradise Valley are definitely "must reads". They are both wonderful reads, interesting and exciting, heartwarming and romantic, wholesome and inspiring, and so much more.
For those who aren't fans of Amish fiction, this book along with Paradise Valley are excellent historical fiction novels. They are clean and exciting while painting a fascinating picture of early 1920s Mexico.
The author did not fail in this novel either. I cried. I'm not a huge crybaby when it comes to Amish novels, but this one got me.
There was a moment when I was tempted to rate this only four stars. I'm not happy that the book ended with cliffhangers. Adding cliffhangers is a way to capture the audience, but it doesn't mean that I like them. Certainly, "happily ever after" endings are wonderful, but I don't necessarily demand them. Some portion of a cliffhanger is enough to keep me interested and lure me to a new book. This one, however, had me asking a bit more questions than I normally prefer. I truly hope that Dale Cramer does produce another novel in the series, soon, real soon, not kidding.