REVIEW: When Secrets Strike by Marta Perry
Sarah Bitler’s story evolves in this second novel when she’s troubled by the love she still feels for her childhood friend Aaron King. Can Sarah be satisfied with her quilt shop to fulfill her life, or will widower Aaron and his children encourage her to dream of more? Will an arsonist ruin any chance of happiness for them all?
Even though WHEN SECRETS STRIKE is the second book in the HOUSE OF SECRETS series, it can be easily read as a standalone. Of course, it’s more fun to sink into a world you already know and visit with familiar characters from book one, so if you love series books, make sure you read WHERE SECRETS SLEEP first. Author Marta Perry is especially good at explaining all the characters and their relationship so even if it has been a while since you read book one, you’ll easily slip back into this world.
We met Amish spinster Sarah Bitler in WHERE SECRETS SLEEP as the co-owner of the quilt shop in Blackburn House. Near thirty, Sarah has resigned herself to being deemed a “maidal” and focuses on her business instead of worrying about never having a family of her own. Having been once in love with her childhood friend Aaron King, who married someone else, Sarah is grateful for the business she shares with Allison Standish. An Amish woman without a man or a family to care for in her community can face difficulty. It’s harder to provide for yourself when being Amish relies on the family unity.
When Sarah witnesses a fire at an elderly neighbor’s property that is suspected to have been started by an arsonist, her safe world is no longer the sheltered community she loves. Additional fires incriminate friends who couldn’t possibly be responsible. Will Sarah survive repeatedly crossing the arsonist’s path to save her community?
Widower Aaron King has moved home to his parent’s farm so he has help raising his two daughters. He hopes to buy a neighboring property but finds out it has been sold off to a corporation. Aaron is a volunteer firefighter, along with his father and brother. He is concerned with Sarah’s involvement as a witness. When more unexplained events threaten Sarah and their community, will Aaron discover he’s smitten with the strong woman Sarah has become, or fear suspicions against him will harm her reputation?
I have such a good time reading Marta Perry’s Amish stories. She brings these communities to life and I learn something new about the Amish each time I read one of her books. I really enjoy how the Englisch and the Amish work together respectfully, both professionally and personally. Their differences can cause obstacles so I enjoy reading how the Amish keep their faith strong within constant temptation.
Aaron and Sarah are a sweet couple, having been friends as children, and rediscover each other as adults after the death of Aaron’s first wife. Their families see the perfection of their union before Sarah or Aaron figure out their feelings for one another, so it’s fun to witness the matchmaking maneuvers the grandmothers and friends put to task.
There are several suspense plotlines running through the book that keep the community frantically trying to resolve them. Allison and Sarah become amateur sleuths to help an elderly neighbor. They also plan a quilt show and the quilt history contained within this plot should be fun for any quilter. I just happened to go to a quilt show the weekend I was reading this book so I found this part of the story especially appealing and authentic.
Marta Perry creates sweet love stories within the realism of the world we live in, while incorporating a simpler way of life. It’s a great combination where faith is in the background but doesn’t overwhelm the story. Common sense and kindness prevails when the characters are faced with adversity, but it is never so sweet that it becomes unrealistic. If you’ve read Amish stories before and have been disappointed, I think you’ll find this author’s style refreshing.
Marta Perry writes a more modern story that’s not focused on religion as much as it is motivated by the lifestyle of all who live a country life. Ms. Perry’s talent creates a more relatable story for those who might not be familiar with the Amish way of life. I enjoy the situations that demand that the Amish walk a fine line between their beliefs and what the Englisch expect them to do to stay within the law, or to operate their business. It’s a cultural shock that many of us might not understand prior to reading a well-written novel by Marta Perry that focuses on these sensibilities. Ms. Perry has a unique talent for keeping it real while being respectful of the people she writes about. These feel-good stories with a bit of suspense are perfect escapism that’s wholesome and intriguing at the same time.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies and The Zest Quest. Digital ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
When Secrets Strike by Marta Perry
Series: House of Secrets, Book 2
Category: Contemporary Amish Suspense
Publisher: HQN Books (October 27, 2015)
Rating 4 out of 5
What books are you reading this week?