Amish, Book Review, Christian, Enemies to Lovers, Harlequin Books, NetGalley, Romance, Series

A Wish for Home (Secrets of Bliss Valley #1) by Jo Ann Brown


Caught between who she is…and who she was.

Lauren Nolt hasn’t forgiven the Amish community of Lancaster County for shunning her parents. But returning as a successful Englischer working for large developers is just what she needs to get a promotion and give her parents the life they deserve. Coming face-to-face with her childhood bully, Amish widower Adam Hershberger, is the last thing she wants. Yet when her world’s shaken by a shocking discovery, Adam’s the only one she can confide in…

Adam’s never forgiven himself for the part he played in Lauren’s past, nor what drove him to do it. But as developers threaten his great-grossdawdi’s farm, she’s the only one who can help. And with his little girl determined to bring him and Lauren together at every turn, keeping his distance is impossible. Now they must learn to trust each other—even as their secret feelings grow stronger. But is love enough to bridge the gap between their very different worlds?


It’s been ages since I’ve read a Christian romance and when the publisher sent me a request, I jumped at the chance. Ms. Brown gives the reader a glimpse of Amish ways and traditions while creating strong and engaging characters and a bit of intrigue.

Laurene “Lauren” Nolt has come back to a childhood home that holds good and bad memories. After her parents were shunned from the Amish community she worked through the difficult changes to become a part of the Englisch world. Now she is working for developers to build a casino in the community that will get her a promotion she needs to take care of her parents. But things go from bad to worse. The weather turns bad, she receives a shocking revelation from her mother, she damages her car, and she runs into the man who bullied her as a kid. 

Amish widower Adam Hershberger is trying to take care of his family the best way he can and then Laurene comes back to town to work with the people determined to buy his great grandfather’s farm.  Not if he can help it. She brings back several unwanted memories of his cruelty towards her when all she wanted to do was tutor him. She’s still that kind person, but she has grit now and something else. A sadness. Loneliness. Something he needs to ignore…easier said than done.

I love the instant unwanted attraction Lauren and Adam have. Lauren has so much happening to her all at once and she surprisingly decides to open up to Adam about it. His unexpected calm presence and wise answers give her the support she needs to tackle a distressing change in her life. Adam has a lot of responsibility as a father, caretaker, deacon of the community, and a new firefighter. He is shamed by his secret and the treatment of Lauren when they were children. Watching him make up for his past mistakes by helping her confront her current circumstances is heartwarming and hopeful. 

In addition to romance, there is a mysterious and compelling back story of several random fires popping up in Bliss Valley which leads to a very tense and deadly situation.

The supporting characters are necessary to the dynamics of the story. Adam’s four-year-old daughter is precious and definitely a great catalyst to bring Adam and Lauren closer. Lauren’s Aunt Sylvia and Adam’s great-grandfather Ephraim are also a treat as they try a little matchmaking themselves. 

I recommend this lovely and endearing romance filled with inspiring characters and the importance of home and family.  A wonderful beginning to a promising series.

Thank you to Ms. Brown, Harlequin, and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.


A Wish for Home

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Jo Ann Brown has been creating characters and stories for as long as she can remember. Her first stories were populated with her friends and sisters. She wrote her first novel in high school, and it happily resides in the forgotten depths of her file cabinet. Fast forward through college, serving in the US Army as a quartermaster officer, getting married, and increasing her blessings with three children…and Jo Ann sold her first book in 1987. Since it was published in 1988, she has sold over 100 titles and has become a best-selling and award-winning author. Romantic Times called her “a truly talented author.” She writes romance, mystery, and YA under a variety of pen names. Now she is writing Amish romances for Love Inspired and Annie’s Fiction as Jo Ann Brown.

Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages and are sold on every continent except Antarctica. A sought-after speaker, she has been teaching creative writing for over 20 years, and she established several popular fiction courses at Brown University. She resides in Florida with her husband and about a zillion little lizards in her yard.

Follow Jo Ann on her website.