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Rachel's Secret

(Riverhaven Years #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  770 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Bestselling author BJ Hoff promises to delight her many faithful readers with her compelling new series, The Riverhaven Years. With the first book, Rachel’s Secret, Hoff introduces a new community of unforgettable characters and adds the elements readers have come to expect from her novels: a tender love story, the faith journeys of people we grow to know and love, and ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Harvest House Publishers (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  770 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Andrea Guy
This is the first Amish historical I've read. It definitely was a different style of story from what I'm used to with Amish fiction/romance, and I have to say, it was a really enjoyable read.

Like most Amish stories there's a lot of drama involving the characters and the Englischers. In this case, an Irishman is shot and seeks the help of Rachel and her family. Jeremiah Gant is a conductor on the underground railroad, that in itself brings a whole new spin one what to expect in Amish fiction.

Apr 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This is an historical novel, set in the time of the Underground Railroad. It was the first time I read an Amish fiction novel that was not set within the past 75 years, and to be honest, it was hard to remember for the most part that this was set in the 1850s. I did enjoy reading the parts about Asa and Gant's work on the Underground Railroad, and that helped me remember when this novel is set.
I enjoyed the story for the most part, but it didn't grab me like other novels I've recently read.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Although it did seem to me to be more about Susan and Dr. Sebastian. There were was details about slavery and the underground railroad. Many beautiful passages about healing hearts and forgiveness. It seemed to me that Rachel and Gant fell in love rather soon which I didnt feel convinced of. The author does address it, which I appreciated it. At some point the storyline with Asa trails off and I am wondering if she will address it it the next book in the series. ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first bvook in the Riverhaven years trilogy. In book one an wounded Irish American riverboat captain shows up at Rachel's house. Rachel is Amish and has to contend with the Amish community being upset by a widow having a man at her house. The captain brings more danger because he is part of the underground railroad. The book just stops leaving several loose ends so you will read the next in the series.
Brooke Barenfanger
I have always found forbidden love desperately romantic. Hoff has sketched the characters of Rachel Brenneman and Jeremiah Gant with a finesse I have come to expect from her. She is always colorful in her language and excellent in her storytelling ability. She deals with serious themes and always shows them in a realistic manner. However, almost always at the end of her books I have found that she gives a hint of hope. She has become one of my favorite authors.
Janie  R.
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amish

This was the first book I've read by B.J.Hoff-a historical, Amish, with a mix of suspense,and romance. I really enjoyed her writing. It had great characters -the character of Fannie was my favorite! The Underground Railroad subplot really interests me, and I appreciated learning more about it in this story. This was a wonderful story with the theme of forgiveness and healing woven through the story. I highly recommend this book!
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it

This book is a story about an Amish family living in Ohio in 1855. It addresses the challenges they face due to their traditions and beliefs. They struggle with what would be God's will when they are faced with caring for an injured outsider. The book ends keeping you wondering about what happens next. It is part of a series and I may need to read the next book.
This was one of my book club reads and very easy to read.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rachel's Secret -book#1 of series"The Riverhaven Years" by B J Hoff

I read book#2 first and then had to go find 1-3 at library to finish the story. This is a great series and you won't want to miss any of the books.
I enjoyed the characters and wanted to hear the "whole" story.
Tina Guffey
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautiful story of captive hearts in a historical setting.
Rachel Kenny
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
i really enjoyed this book but if you are not a christian i suggest you do not read this n=]because this is a strong christian story
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read by this author, and it was very good. It takes place in Ohio in the 1850s. Rachel Brenneman, a young widow, has the outside world thrust upon her when a severely injured man and his freed-slave companion come to her door for help in the middle of a stormy night. Torn between wanting to help the injured man and being afraid to let in strangers - and two men at that - Rachel decides to let them in. She discovers that the man was shot protecting his companion while ...more
Linda Klager
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this story about a young Amish woman who gets a surprise visit from 2 strangers. She had to make a quick decision whether or not to help them. Normally a young Amish woman who lives alone and is widowed would not take in "Englishers". It is not acceptable behavior for them. These 2 strangers were not a threat to her and really needed her help. I'm so glad that she chose to be "like Jesus" in showing compassion to them. I liked the inclusion of the story of the "Underground ...more
Wendy Forsyth
I came across this book when cleaning up at my elderly Mum's house. She recalled reading it and enjoying it- but didn't mention I'd then need to go in search of the next two books in the series! :)
Yes, this is first book (historical fiction) of the three, set in an American Amish setting and was certainly something quite different to my usual reads. The romantic aspect was a little premature I felt, but all in all the book encouraged me to want to read the last two novels as well, which I did
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
This was such a lovely book, I enjoyed it immensely. I thought the story being told from several different perspectives was well done, divided between chapters or sections, without feeling too cluttered. We see the lives of Rachel, her mother, her young sister, Captain Gant, his friend Asa, and the doctor.

There are two love stories, and both are gentle and sweet. Rachel's "secret" had me in tears, as I felt her heartache in the unfolding of the scene. Part one of three, the story has barely
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an Amish historical romance novel. It was well written. I love the story lines, the characters,
and the fact that it is a clean read but also not boring or poorly written. The back page says it is a novel to reflect the author's efforts to make her stories relevant to the present and still cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture. I agree. The only bad thing is, now I have to find book # 2 because I have to see how things progress in the storyline. The themes of family,
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this delightful and interesting Amish novel. I look forward to reading # 2 in this series.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m giving this four stars because it’s a well written, engaging story. I would like to know what becomes of the characters, however I’m returning books 2 and 3 to the library unread. I feel a little damaged reading this, “truth be known.” (Truth be known was a phrase used repeatedly.) I’ve never read any Amish books and I’m aghast at how repressed they are if this is any true representation of the faith. I couldn’t imagine letting a little girl read this book. I was actually cheering for Gideon ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
From the back of the book: "Rachel Brenneman has a secret... But when wounded Irish American riverboat captain Jeremiah Gant bursts into the rural Amish setting of Riverhaven, her secret must come out. The suspicious Englischer brings chaos and conflict to the community - especially for Rachel. The unwelcome 'outsider' needs a safe place to recuperate before continuing his role as an Underground Railroad conductor. Neither he nor Rachel is prepared for the forbidden love that threatens a man's ...more
Sarah Udall
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: amish
Rachel's Secret has a good plot but the author threw away a the ending. As in the book just stops. It doesn't truly end.

Two key parts of the book are answered but only in throwaway lines within a paragraph. One does not sense closure.

The book would have read better if I had all of the series and was reading them one after the other. BUT I rarely have that. Like many people, I read a book because it appeals to me now. Sometimes I'm reading in a series -- sometimes not. It's availability of the
The first book in The Riverhaven Years, this is an Amish romance that takes place in 1855. Tow Amish women fall for an outsider. I have read Amish romances set in the present day and this is not so very different. There have been changes in Amish life but their basic way of living appears not to have changed all that much from 1855.
In the beginning, Widowed Rachel finds a black man and a wounded man on her doorstep. She cannot turn them away even though her community is being harassed by those
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
I was really disappointed with the ending of this book. I realize that it's part of a series, so the story doesn't actually end with the last chapter, but it was soooooo frustrating to read 265 pages and NOT find out what happens to certain characters. Talk about a cliff-hanger! I now feel that I HAVE to read the second book and I'm not sure I like that feeling.

The writing was lovely, though ... BJ Hoff has a very simple, sweet style to telling a story and I really enjoyed the book as I was
Tasha enderby
Nov 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: amish, 2010
I love amish tales and I hate rating this one so poorly but it wasn't really written by an Author that writes Amish stories and you can tell. The facts about the faith and culture are not correct and that was turn off to me. They don't really say that poor Fannie was abused by those English boys on the road but I get the feeling it was more then a bump on the head and kicks that had her so upset. The book ends with no real resolve but a lot of hoping it all ended for the best.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara Labbe
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Great Story

I love BJ's books. Her characters come alive on the pages and I fall in love with all of them. The intertwining the Amish community and the prejudices towards them with the Underground Railroad gives the story an interesting twist. I know she does research because I know exactly where the county that she mentions in this story. Can't wait to start book 2 to learn what happens to the Amish community in Riverhaven.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Once again, a clean fluffy Amish book in which the characters fall in love as the hero is mostly unconscious. This one weaves in a subplot about the underground railroad and possible conversion to the Amish religion, but it is mostly poofy. I will probably read the next book in the series, but after I've read something with a little more bite.
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I did really like it, but also felt like there were many things that were left unfinished. Whatever happens to Asa? That is the biggest part of the story that is left hanging. I was already planning on reading the rest of the series, but I definitely will have too now to find out if some of those loose ends are tied up.
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the story of an Amish girl who suddenly becomes affiliated with an unwelcome "outsider" and what she does to stay true to her religion, but also grow in a relationship with that "outsider." Some parts of the book dragged on a little long, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next book due out in September.
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amish, historical
Even though there is an English twist to this story it is still one of my all time favorite series. The story did not falter from Amish love and loyalty that I come to expect in this genre. This series ended beautifully and everyone found their way. I also discovered what an amazing author B.J. Hoff is to.
Ashley Daviau
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I always find forbidden love appealing and this story was no different. That element mixed with the Amish way of living, and the Underground Railroad made for a wonderfully compelling novel. Although I would have liked to see more about the Underground Railroad! can't wait to dive into the next in the series!
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BJ Hoff’s writing is known for her historical settings, her unforgettable characters, and her lyrical prose. She is the bestselling author of numerous historical fiction series, including the Riverhaven Years, the Mountain Song Legacy, the Song of Erin saga, the American Anthem series, An Emerald Ballad series, and her newest book Harp on the Willow.

Her five-volume Emerald Ballad series was the

Other books in the series

Riverhaven Years (3 books)
  • Where Grace Abides (The Riverhaven Years, #2)
  • River of Mercy (The Riverhaven Years, #3)