Sunday, February 17, 2013


Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Date published:  May 1, 2012
ISBN:  978-0-425-24694-8
Inspirational Fiction
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher.


Hannah Conroy has lost her husband, Travis, a soldier, leaving her widowed with a small son, Jamie.  With an uncertain future, she returns home, to her mother’s roots, to live with her aunt, Paula Schatz, in Pleasant Valley, an Amish and Mennonite community in rural Pennsylvania.

Paula welcomes Hannah with open arms, and helps her get back on her feet, putting her to work at her bakery.  But Hannah is torn between her Mennonite roots in Pennsylvania and the life she left behind, as a military wife, an Englischer.  Not sure whether to remain in Pleasant Valley or return to the world she has been raised in, she soon finds herself growing comfortable with her new home, knowing she is loved and accepted there.

Hannah has an education in speech therapy and wishes to utilize it, not wanting her Englischer education wasted.  So when she meets shy, caring William Brand, an Amish furniture maker, she offers to help him overcome his stuttering, which makes him feel somewhat outside the Amish community.

William accepts Hannah’s offer and, soon, the two find themselves with feelings toward one another that puts their relationship in jeopardy, especially when Hannah’s military father-in-law arrives to complicate things.  Afraid for her future, Hannah must now decide to remain in Pleasant Valley, where she has been loved and supported by family and friends, or return to a world she isn’t sure she wants to be a part of any longer.

HANNAH’S JOY, the sixth book in the Pleasant Valley series by Marta Perry, is a delightful story that will quickly draw the reader in.  It is a heartwarming love story and one that readers of inspirational romance will greatly enjoy.  Although this was the first book I have read in this series, I loved it.  It can easily stand alone.

Hannah Conroy, our heroine, is easy to relate to, especially in this century when so many of our military are being deployed overseas.  Understanding Hannah’s heartbreak and worry over the future, for both her and her son, Jamie, is something many readers can empathize with, in one way or another.  The reader will easily relate to Hannah’s confusion and fears.

Hannah is a pretty, sweet woman and a good mother, and it is wonderful when the Pennsylvania Dutch community accept her into their fold, looking out for her and Jamie, despite their somewhat conflicting beliefs.  That is, because of Travis having been a soldier.  This is a wonderful part of HANNAH’S JOY, and it is easy to see how Hannah can be torn over wanting to stay or return to the world she has known for much of her life. 

William Brand is a charmer, a strong, steady rock of a man who, despite his stuttering, is a good, moral man.  He is the sort of hero that many women would like in their lives.  The strong, silent type, a good listener, and someone who supports those he loves.  It doesn’t take long to really care about this character and his relationship with Hannah. 

Had William not come into Hannah’s life, it might have made Hannah’s decision to leave Pleasant Valley that much easier for her.  But William brings in the steady support and care that she needs, and it is a pleasure to see how well he treats Jamie.

The minor characters in HANNAH’S JOY add a lot to this story, especially conflict, which makes things all the more difficult for Hannah.  Her father-in-law is an interesting character, and right away you want to dislike him, because of his closed mind and domineering ways.

Hannah’s best friend from her past, Megan Townsend, adds a bit of strife one would not have expected, yet it is so realistic the way Megan sticks her nose where it is not desired.  Her involvement with Hannah’s father-in-law causes Hannah so many problems that the reader will start to get angry and really dislike Megan.  Yet she is a good friend to Hannah, based on their past together, so the reader will soon come to forgive her her faults in this situation.

Aunt Paula is a sweetheart of a character, who lovingly supports Hannah and truly cares for Jamie.  She is an important part of HANNAH’S JOY, and at one point I even thought that perhaps she might get involved with Hannah’s father-in-law, since they were both alone.  Of course, since they are both at opposite ends of the spectrum, so to speak, that could probably never be anyways.

I loved the barn raising scene, where Hannah begins to see more of William’s character.  He is such a special man, it is very easy for the reader to care for him and secretly hope he will get together with Hannah sooner rather than later.

HANNAH’S JOY is a joy to read.  I loved it from beginning to end.  Fairly fast-paced, with a good plot that kept me turning pages, it has an overall wholesomeness to it, and is sure to please every romantic.  It is one of those stories where you wish the characters and the town were real, so that you could go there and visit in person.  To me, that is the sign of a truly talented writer, when the reader wishes for fiction to be reality.

Perry is a wonderfully skilled writer, as evidenced by her track record of over thirty-five inspirational romance novels.  I look forward to reading more in this series, and even the first five which I have missed.  Perry has a style that I enjoy reading, so I know that others will be as delighted to read her work as I have been. 

If one wants a story that will entertain for a few hours, especially on a rainy or snowy day, then HANNAH’S JOY is sure to please.  So grab a copy and kick back awhile.  Hot chocolate and a cruller, anyone?

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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