Unbelievably good historical Amish novel: The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer

A fantastic second book in the series, one based on actual events - this one is worth the read! See my review of this historical Amish novel, below:

Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: January 2012

Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher:

Ravaged by disease, preyed upon by ruthless bandits, the Bender family's second year in Mexico has taken a grievous turn. Faced with impossible choices, the expatriate Amish discover, more than ever before, what it means to live by faith and not by sight. But it's Miriam who must make the hardest choice as her heart takes her on a new and dangerous course. Domingo. "He is gentle," his sister said, "until someone he loves is threatened." Is Miriam that someone?

"Cualnezqui," he often calls her--the Nahuatl word for Beautiful one. The chiseled native has proven himself a man of principle, grace and power, yet is he the pearl of great price for whom Miriam would sacrifice everything, or is he merely a friend? Tormented by conflicting emotions, she's haunted by vivid dreams: Dressed in the coarse cotton pants and shirt of a peasant, she stands on the precipice of a sun-washed ridge searching desperately for Domingo. Domingo the fierce. Domingo the protector.

Domingo the forbidden.


Dale Cramer has done it again. The Captive Heart is a worthy follow up to Paradise Valley, and if possible even surpasses the first novel in the series. I felt like a single parent when my wife snatched this book up to read it, because I scarcely saw her for an entire day while she devoured it. If that isn't a recommendation, I don't know what is! When I got a chance to get my own hands on it, I immediately understood why. The story is sweeping in scope, skillfully written, and immerses you once again in the lives of the Bender family and the other Amish families eking out their existence in the beautiful but dangerous Paradise Valley in Mexico. The lives and complex inner workings of the characters again held me spellbound, especially the father, Caleb, and the difficult choices he must make as he cares for his family. The suspenseful turn that hits halfway through the book had me racing through the pages to the very satisfying, though heartbreaking, conclusion.

Coming from a Mennonite heritage myself and therefore a legacy of non-violence, I found myself contemplating how I would respond as a husband and a father with the threats from the bandits, the risk of my daughters being raped, of our livelihood being stolen away. Reading this story has led me back to the Bible to read up once again on Jesus' examples of turning the other cheek, of  what role self-defense may play. I could write an entire book on this subject, but suffice it say the story will make you think deeply on such matters. Ultimately, the story reminded me again of God's mercy and grace, of his gift of peace, and left me longing for the world to come where war and violence will be no more.

I highly recommend this book for it's strong and lovable characters, it's heartbreaking plot, the strong overtures of faith and the gift of family and of God's love. This book will entertain you with a suspenseful plot set in an amazing historical setting, and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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