Brooke Benton was a successful attorney until she moved to an Amish community after being stalked while raising her niece, but crimes occur in her new home as well. Brooke Benton has had a very difficult year and burying her sister, while obtaining custody of her young niece and avoiding her stalker was a particularly challenging route to take. Therefore, when she had the opportunity to move to a primarily Amish community in Ohio and start over, it seemed like an ideal opportunity.
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She quickly settles into the quiet town of Maplecreek and does her best to respect the customs of her friends and neighbors. She rents property from someone who has left the area and also works in a store selling Amish crafts, including beautifully designed blankets. Minor choices like covering up the television when it is not in use, allows the Amish to welcome her into the community.
She has previously made friends with some of the teenagers and one night, the two courting couples come by for the delicious, store-bought ice cream treats she has previously offered. After enjoying their time together, she meets a new neighbor, Daniel Brand. He is unusual in the Amish group, because he left at age 18 before being baptized and has returned ten years later, anxious to rejoin his family. In order to do so, he bought a home and has already began to remove the modern conveniences that mark it as a non-Amish home.
Daniel Brand is not very pleased to discover the teenagers in an "English" home and encourages them to go home in time for their curfew. Soon, the laughing couples bundle into their Amish buggy and on the way home, their vehicle is the victim of a hit-and-run. Three of them die on-site and one, a daughter of Brooke's new friend, dies soon after in the hospital. Despite Brooke's fear of being seen on television or in the newspapers, which would obviously compromise her safety, she begins her own investigation into the problem.
As the book progresses, we see Sheriff Barnes, who is proud of his lack of education and shares his contempt for members of the Ohio law enforcement. His judgement may be flawed due to that lack of education and his contempt for the practices of the Amish, who form the bulk of the community that he serves. We also meet Brooke's long-time friend who would like their relationship to progress to a romantic one, Jake. We also meet a newly wealthy woman named Kiki, who is in the area temporarily and enjoys the Amish crafts. She has two brothers, Matt and Clay, who enjoy alcohol and have flawed judgement.
Sparks fly between Brooke and Daniel, whether they are arguing, agreeing with one another or looking into the hit-and-run. Despite Brooke's belief that her stalker was actually the result of a criminal case she won, where the accused was found not-guilty and immediately committed a heinous crime, we discover that Kiki's brothers were the drivers. In addition, Jennifer is kidnapped by Matt and Clay, who hope to prevent Brooke from determining the case. She involves Kiki, and with Daniel's assistance, finds and save her just in time.
We discover that her stalker is actually her former friend and confidante, Jake, who has become obsessed with her. He breaks into her home, reveals his identity and attempts to kill her. She is forced to kill him to defend herself and Jennifer. Finally, the feelings that have been subtly emerging throughout the novel between Brooke and Daniel result in an honest discussion, brief engagement and quick marriage. Despite his love for his family and their traditions, he is willing to leave them to start a life with Brooke and Daniel.
Best part of story, including ending:
So many people assume that small towns, Amish communities and other areas where everyone knows their neighbors could not possibly have big crimes. The contrast of the Amish community, with their desire to avoid justice and seeing everything as God's will, in comparison with Brooke's experience in a big city and her previous job, is both fascinating and illuminating.
Best scene in story:
Soon after the novel begins, we see Brooke and her niece saying their nightly prayers. It was so sweet that the little girl, Jennifer, was asking God to remind her mother how much she was still loved and that it was necessary to do so because of her mother's cancer. In the final months of her life, her mother's memory was impaired and therefore, she reminds God to look out for her mother. Regardless of a persons' religious beliefs, it would be almost impossible to not be touched by a child's love for her deceased mother.
Opinion about the main character:
I love that Brooke Benton is raising her niece after her sister's death, even though her niece's father is alive. It reminds the reader that she chose to take on this responsibility, even though she was not legally required to and made many difficult decisions because of it.