In this debut novel, an unconventional romance ignites in Pennsylvania Amish country.
When teenager Rachel Adams, one of the main characters in Patterson’s series opener, moves with her mother from Florida to Paradise, Pennsylvania, in the wake of her father’s death, she’s expecting disappointment and loneliness. Rachel’s mother, Beverly, has purchased a farmhouse in Paradise, and because it requires the extensive attention of an expert handyman, she’s referred to young Paul Fischer, an Amish teenager who comes highly recommended. Rachel is determined to step outside her own resentment of the move. “If there was any hope of contentment, it was up to her to make that happen,” she muses, nevertheless bitterly telling herself that “regardless of the name, this would never be paradise.” For his part, Paul looks on the offer to do work unconnected to his well-meaning family and domineering uncle as an answered prayer, even though his upbringing has warned him constantly about the dangers of associating too closely with outsiders. In the standard manner of such love stories, circumstances conspire to bring the two young people together, and romantic chemistry almost immediately develops. In gentle stages, Rachel warms to Paul. “He was amazingly easy to talk to, this Amish man who’d entered her life,” she thinks at one point. “Every encounter she had with Paul made the scales tip in favor of staying in this small town—of even being happy about it.” Patterson captures this slow process with a careful ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for the texture of small-town life. The book indulges in very little of the saccharine idealization that often mars Amish fiction. Instead, the difficulties thrown in the path of true love here feel entirely organic and unforced—including the competition Paul faces for Rachel’s attentions from an outsider, Kevin Williams. The author writes a fairly predictable story with a great deal of heart and conviction; readers should be charmed almost from the first chapter.
A well-crafted and heartwarming cross-cultural tale of first love.