Amish Sweethearts (Leslie Gould) – Review

3 stars


“Don’t you get tired of always doing the right thing?”
“No,” Lila answered.  “I don’t.”  She snapped the dish towel toward him and then hung it over the back of a chair to dry.  Turning toward the lamp, she said, “Good night.”
“I know you still love him,” Simon said.
She froze, her hand in midair.
“Jah.”  His voice rose again.  “You’re courting Reuben, but you love Zane.  How do you live with yourself?”
She spun around and flicked off the lamp.  He was drunk.  He didn’t know what he was talking about.
“I know you,” Simon said as she started toward the hall.  “You’ve always loved him.”
“Stop it,” she hissed, turning back toward him even though she couldn’t see him in the dark.
“You want to know if he loved you back, don’t you?”  Simon’s breath reeked.
“No.”  She stepped away.  “I don’t.”
“Sure you do.”  She guessed he smiled but couldn’t tell.  “But I wouldn’t tell you, even if you asked.”  Something lit up the room – a flashlight?  Too flat.  She realized it was a phone.  Like Mandy’s.
“He has a girlfriend,” Lila said, nodding toward the phone but turning her head from his rancid breath.  “Mandy showed me the photos on Facebook.”  The stab of pain in her chest, again, surprised her.
“I doubt it’s true,” Simon said, stepping toward her.  “He didn’t say anything about her when he was home.  You can’t use that as an excuse not to live your own life.”
He started for the hall, bumping into her as he passed, the light of the phone bobbing along.  “Zane’s been much more faithful than you have.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said.
If he heard, he ignored her.  He turned down the hall, bumped against the wall, and then made his way to the bathroom.  Lila stayed in the dark kitchen, hoping he wouldn’t come back.  He didn’t.  He bumped against the hall wall again and then finally fumbled his way into his bedroom and shut the door.
She was doing the right thing in agreeing to marry Reuben, wasn’t she?  She didn’t really love Zane.  She’d had a crush on him when they were young, that was all.  Monika had once said that was often what first love was.  An infatuation.  That’s what it was with Zane.  Lila was sure of it.  Simon didn’t know what he was talking about.

Publisher’s Overview
They’ve been best friends for years, but as high school ends, Zane Beck can’t help but look at his Amish neighbor, Lila Lehman, with different eyes. Her controlling father sees only one future for Lila, though, and arranges for her to be courted by an upstanding young Amish man. When Zane sees the two together, his plans for the future crumble, and he impulsively enlists in the Army, following in his father’s footsteps.

However, the passing of years and the distance between them isn’t enough to halt their now hidden feelings for each other. If being together used to be difficult, it’s now impossible, especially with the Amish opposed to war. Zane’s service takes a dramatic turn when he’s sent to Afghanistan. Being on the front line and the reality of taking a life has him questioning whether he can continue to serve or not. But all choices have consequences–both his and hers. With Lila preparing to marry another, will these one-time sweethearts ever find the life together that they both still long for?


My review
There were two main reasons I wanted to read this book. The first is that I read ‘Amish Promises’, saw the early signs of Zane and Lila’s attachment to one another and wanted to see its progression. The second was that I was interested to see how the differences in Zane’s and Lila’s positions were overcome. Despite my hopes, I ended up feeling a little disappointed by this novel.

To begin with, we are shown very little evidence of Zane and Lila’s attachment to one another. We are often told of their attachment through their thoughts, but they do not spend very much time together on the page, and what time they do spend together is strained for the majority of the book. There was even less romantic interaction – in fact, barely any at all. The result is that we’ve been told the way they feel but then shown nothing to back that up, which made the book a little flat for me.

There was also quite a change in Lila’s father’s attitude as the story progressed, attributed to another character’s influence on him.  This transformation will be more obvious to those who have read the first novel in the series, but I found it a little difficult to believe since we didn’t actually see how it happened.  We were simply supposed to accept that spending time with another person has brought it about.

The other thing that affected my reading experience was the feeling that the writing didn’t always flow smoothly. Sometimes it was because there were explanations or extra details interrupting the flow of the scene, sometimes I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Whatever the reason, I just didn’t feel as though the writing brought this story to life. For me, it remained a story on a page.

I have read other books by Leslie Gould that I enjoyed more than this one, so I would probably try another one in the future, but this one didn’t live up to my expectations.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Buy from: 

Release date:  2 February 2016
Pages:  384
Publisher:  Bethany House
Author’s Website:

Previous books in series:


About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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