The Butterfly Garden by Annette Blair
Sara Lapp, known in the Amish community as Spinster Sara and shunned because she studied to be a midwife, thinks she has been summoned to assist her best friend Abby during birth. But when Sara arrives, Abby is dead. Abby’s husband, “mad” Adam Zuckerman, tells Sara she must take the children and leave but she refuses. Obviously, the death of his wife has not changed his usual manner; ill-tempered, cold and totally indifferent to everyone’s feelings including those of his children. Sara can’t help but question why he wants to send his small daughters away, and questions even more the look in Adam’s eyes when he speaks of his children’s safety. Can they truly be in danger from him as he suggests? Sara agrees to temporarily take the girls but when Adam is injured, Sara and the children must move in with him to care for him. But the Amish community will not allow such a situation and demands that they either marry or be shunned. Neither wishes to abandon their faith. Although Sara never thought she’d marry, she is willing to try to make a home for Abby’s girls with a man that she’s come to care for. Adam thinks too that Sara would make a good mother for his children and more and more finds himself thinking of her in a wifely way. Sara wants desperately to make this new life they’ve chosen happy for all of them, but can Adam forget the demons of his past? In the beginning he was willing to try. But now two prominent figures from long ago have come back into his life to threaten a fragile bud of hope. The Butterfly Garden is a character driven story set in 1883 in an Ohio Amish community, the author doing a good job to provide important cultural detail. The hero and heroine are both strong, determined characters with personal issues to resolve and this makes for both an interesting and exciting match. Secondary characters put on the finishing touches, especially the children who will touch your heart with their uncomplicated, innocent ways. Although the story is set in an Amish community and told at a somewhat relaxed pace, there is plenty of drama to keep reader interest and just the right touch of romance.