Carol Award: Long Contemporary Romance Finalist: Plain Jayne
Title: Plain Jayne
Author: Hillary Manton Lodge
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (Kim Moore, Editor)
Category: Long Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by: Kim Peterson
Reporter Jayne Tate works for a newspaper in Portland, Ore. But the confident, witty writer has slipped into a slump. The recent death of her estranged father affects her more than she wants to admit.
Lodge’s debut novel delivers a fast-paced twist on Amish stories.
Forced by her employer to take a hiatus from work, independent and ultra-modern Jayne zooms into nearby Amish country on her motorcycle determined to research and write a feature article to prove she’s still on her writing game. The gutsy reporter finds a local woodworker, Levi Burkholder, who in turn introduces her to his family.
But the peace Jayne seeks among the Plain people doesn’t comfort her like their handmade quilts. Turmoil exists wherever flawed, complicated humans reside—even in the heart of Amish culture. Although the Burkholders welcome Jayne and make her comfortable, half the family shuns Levi because he chose to leave their faith. His sister dresses plain, but she craves fabric and fashion, and their pull may lure her away.
As Jayne embraces and learns the simple ways—wearing plain clothes, making pies, cooking meals, and cutting quilt squares—she feels the pain that keeps this family apart. Soon her affection for Levi grows into concern for the Burkholders and longing for reconciliation with her remaining family.
Lodge’s debut novel delivers a fast-paced twist on Amish stories. She weaves a romance that provides the appeal of a bonnet book and the wit of spirited women’s fiction. The contrast between Jayne and Levi creates delightful humor and romantic tension as they overcome their differences. The lovable heroine and intriguing hero grapple with the importance of family and the strength of faith. Together, they learn the importance of both when making crucial decisions.
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