Rachel will grow into a strong young woman with powerful gifts—but in a faraway country, without her Jake. In 1921, Ohio's new law forces Caleb Bender's family to seek sanctuary in the wilds of Mexico where the government will not interfere with their Amish way of life, or take their children from them. Nor will it protect them from the bandits terrorizing the countryside.
In an unfamiliar land where no one speaks their language or knows their ways, the Benders establish a homestead in exile. Sisters Emma, Rachel, and Miriam find strengths unimagined, gifts unexpected, and yearning beyond their deepest dreams. Even steadfast Caleb is compelled to wrestle with the demands of faith, only to discover that love has its own demands.
Each of Dale Cramer's previous novels have enthralled me. Sutter's Cross, Summer of Light, Bad Ground and Levi's Will all sit proudly on my shelves and are testament to Dale's talent as a wordsmith and storyteller. As Amish fiction is rarely on my reading radar, it was Dale's name alone that had me highly anticipating the first book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series, Paradise Valley, and he did not disappoint. Beautifully rendered and historically detailed, Caleb Bender's journey to Mexico in search of religious freedom for his family is an emotive, adventurous and engrossing read. Dale creates believable and heartfelt characters, brimming with life and emotional nuances that raise the bar in this genre. Caleb, Rachel and Miriam's unique personalities unfold as the pages turn and I can't wait to see where Dale takes them in the following stories. Domingo is another character that enthralled me and the opportunity for conflict and immeasurable grace in his journey are tantalising. Others may argue with me but in my mind Dale Cramer is the premier writer of Amish fiction today as his appeal extends beyond genre boundaries and his books should be read by anyone who is captivated by brilliant and engaging storytelling.
With thanks to Bethany House for my review copy