Avon Inspire, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-246919-9
Contemporary Romance, 2018
There are basically two kinds of stories featuring Amish characters. They are either inspirational stories for mostly non-Amish readers to sigh over a romanticized version of those folks, or they are erotica focused on ankle and foot fetish, with the more daring ones also featuring spanking of the wife as some kind of foreplay. His Promise is the former; I wouldn’t have bought it if Avon hadn’t lumped this one with other new releases and led me to assume that this was a more conventional small town romance.
It’s also the last entry in the Amish of Hart County series, and maybe I’m missing something as I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, but I scratch my head when this one has Amish homes with telephones and televisions. Maybe things have changed over time, and these folks have begun to accept technology, I guess, but at the end of the day, folks who want an immersion into a more traditional kind of Amish culture may be disappointed with this one. Aside from some lip service to Amish courting rituals, this one could have easily been any other small town romance, only with God squatting over everyone’s head a little more prominently than usual because this is that kind of story.
Because we can’t have horny people in this story – or Jesus will weep – instead the author has made the heroine Grace King resemble more like a girl-child than anything else. Grace is a pet-sitter, maybe because she is an Amish and hence, as a blessed one, God showers her with money every morning when she wakes up so that she can spend the rest of her life being all precious and starry-eyed instead of becoming jaded from having to work ten hours a day like everyone else. When the story opens, she pouts because she is bored – she has to babysit a dachshund who doesn’t immediately adore her (clearly that thing is a heathen) and no one is available to join her for conversations during the long evenings. And then she loses the dog and bursts into tears as she wanders in the woods looking for that thing.
Fortunately, she is saved from being raped by demon-possessed trees when she stumbles upon John Michael Miller, a fireman who also has a telephone and television at his home. She bursts into tears again in relief. He once courted her sister Beth, but they broke it off as the chemistry wasn’t there. John Michael now realizes that it is always about the then-sixteen year old Grace – she is the one who turns the pages of his bible and make him yearn to part the Red Sea. But for some reason these two take forever to hesitate, dither, and sigh before they decide to get married – maybe because Grace is too busy talking aloud everything that crosses her mind to dogs and other precious things, John Michael is too busy acting like a broody fireman minus the rampant randiness, and the author really needs to pad the pages to a certain number before submitting the whole thing to her editor.
His Promise is actually a pretty nice read around this time of the year, when the post-holiday blues are setting in. The whole thing is generally conflict-free, tension-free, and drama-free, and the two main characters will not do anything to raise the heart beat even a little. It’s perfect thing for both the eleven-year old kid and the old coot in the hospital recuperating from her second heart attack. Everything ends on a high note, in a place where the buggies could have been pulled by crucifix-branded My Little Ponies. However, the child-like demeanor of the heroine and the circular “We’re too virtuous to have naughty thoughts!” antics of her and John Michael soon make me yearn for something more interesting to liven things up a little.