Bandit troubles intensify as Caleb Bender's family tries to settle into their new life in 1920s Paradise Valley. When El Pantera kidnaps Rachel and leaves her brother, Aaron, for dead, Jake Weaver and the Mexican native Domingo pursue the bandit leader to his mountain stronghold in a hopeless rescue attempt. Jake and Domingo manage to escape with Rachel, with the bandits hot on their trail. In a desperate attempt to avoid recapture, Domingo puts himself squarely in harm's way, giving Jake and Rachel time to get away. This is not the quiet life Caleb Bender envisioned when he led his family out of Ohio. What is a father to make of his daughter's obvious affection for a man outside the fold? And how will a pacifist Amishman like Caleb respond to the events that threaten his family and their way of life?
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The second year in Mexico isn't going so good for the Bender family or the other Amish that have moved to Paradise Valley. El Pantera and his bandits are more of a threat since Pancho Villa is no longer alive. Even with the newest Amish arriving there is still no Bishop, no leader for them to make necessary decisions.
Miriam is getting older and finds herself falling in love with Domingo, which gives her no future since he is Mexican not Amish. Because of her age she agrees to marry Micah Shrock. When diptheria hits their community, Aaron Bender takes his sisters to the nearest doctor seeking treatment. Another doctor is sent for to treat the community to save as many lives as possible. On their way home they are attacked by El Pantera and his bandits. Two of them get away, one is kidnapped and one is killed.
This is a pretty fast paced storyline for an Amish story and keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you find your family and friends dying from disease and being kidnapped and killed do you think you would stay or return to your home country? You'll have to read the book to see what the Benders and other Amish decide to do. Myself, I don't think I would want to stay there.
I found this book better than the first and am looking forward to the third one, which I'm already over half done with. So don't cheat and wait for my review to see what they decide to do, read these first two books before you read that last review, PLEASE!
Almost two years ago I read Paradise Valley, the first book in Dale Cramer's The Daughters of Caleb Bender series. In the past couple of weeks I've had the pleasure of completing that journey with books 2 and 3, The Captive Heart and Though Mountains Fall.
These books form a fictional series, based on actual events, of a handful of Amish families who in the 1920s fled from Ohio to the mountains of Mexico after being punished for refusing to send their children to public schools. The first book set the stage for the move and told about the Bender family's first year of living in a strange land. Books 2 and 3 continue their story over the next few years. Dale Cramer is the great-grandson of one of the leaders of a group of Amish who made a similar trek from Ohio to Mexico.
These stories are not your typical Amish fiction. They are not light, easy reads, as some Amish novels are. They do not show all the loose ends tied up with everyone living "happily ever after."
Cramer tells of a group of American Amish people, strong in their faith, who make very difficult choices in extremely trying situations. Their beliefs, livelihoods, and lives are tested in a strange, new world, where many of the rules they have known before simply do not apply. With no church leaders present for most of those years, they find themselves faced with making decisions on their own and are sometimes forced to make choices between traditional beliefs and survival. Love, loss, forgiveness, and family are put to the test over and over in the hearts of individual characters, as well as the whole community. There are many joys and high points along the way in the midst of the gritty struggles these families endure.
I would highly recommend this entire series to fellow Amish fiction fans, as well as to anyone interested in reading about different cultures in various historical settings. (This is definitely a series to be read in order.) Five stars to Dale Cramer's The Daughters of Caleb Bender.
"The Captive Heart" is book #2 in 'The Daughters of Caleb Bender' series. The first book was "Paradise Valley". Dale Cramer is a great writer in my opinion. This book series drew me in from the beginning. It is based from a true story, which draws my curiosity automatically. The story is very detailed, from the bandits and wars to the love stories that seem to blossom all around. The hardships and sacrifices in this story are amazing. I cannot begin to think of myself in many of the situations that these Amish families face in "The Captive Heart". I would recommend this series and this author to anyone, but especially those who love Amish fiction. These books are even suited to a teen and in my opinion would be enjoyable to them as well.
Bestselling author of Paradise Valley, Dale Cramer, has done it again! I have had the priviledge of reading and reviewing another one of his enjoyable works! If you haven’t read Paradise Valley, I encourage you to do so before reading Cramer’s The Captive Heart, because this 2nd book picks up right where Book 1 leaves off.
Ravaged by disease, preyed upon by ruthless bandits, the Bender family’s second year in Mexico has taken a grievous turn. Faced with impossible choices, the expatriate Amish discover, more than ever before, what it means to live by faith and not by sight. But it’s Miriam who must make the hardest choice as her heart takes her on a new and dangerous course. Domingo. “He is gentle,” his sister said, “untili someone he loves is threatened.” Is Miriam that someone? “Cualnezqui,” he often calls her – The Nahuatl word for Beautiful one. The chiseled native has proven himself a man of principle, grace, and power. Yet is he the pearl of great price for whom Miriam would sacrifice everything, or is he merely a friend? Tormented by conflicting emotions, she’s haunted by vivid dreams: Dressed in the coarse cotton pants and shirt of a peasant, she stands on the precipice of a sun-washed ridge searching desperately for Domingo. Domingo the fierce. Domingo the protector. Domingo the forbidden.
This book definitely kept me reading, even more so than Book 1 in the Daughters of Caleb Bender series. Many suspenseful events occur that keep the story moving and the reader intrigued – illness, a kidnapping, and a rescue in the shadow of a loss of loved ones. Even though the main story line focuses on the events that involve Miriam and Domingo, Cramer does not forget the perils also faced by Caleb and the rest of the growing Amish community. This book is another good example of how Faith, Love and Forgiveness can change the lives of others. There is also the question of whether or not it would be wise to give up the Amish way to follow another way. If you read this book, let me know how you like it. I know I am now anxiously waiting to read Book 3!!
Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 2551
The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer is the 2nd installment of his series “The Daughter of Caleb Bender.” This story continues in Mexico close to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, in an area knows as Paradise Valley. There Caleb Bender an Amish man brought his large family to establish a new colony where they would not face religious hardships or so he thought, they did face trials and setbacks. His family consisted of his wife Martha; his daughter Ada; his daughter Mary and husband Ezra with their 4 children; his daughter Lizzie and husband Andy and 4 children; a son Aaron; Amos was Aaron’s twin but he is deceased; a daughter Emma and husband Levi and child; a daughter Miriam; a son Harvey; and three daughters, Rachel, Leah and Barbara. The Amish people had to be very careful watching for Mexican bandits, El Pantera who was well known and his renegade was the worse. Domingo, a hired hand of Caleb’s who was very attracted to Miriam knew how to handle the bandits. El Pantera was one of Pancho Villa’s men and the Amish were safe as long as Pancho was alive, even though they had been threatened my him and his mob. Unfortunately Pancho Villa was murdered and utter chaos set in. While Aaron, Ada, Little Amos, Rachel and Jake were headed back to Paradise Valley they crossed paths with El Pantera and his outlaws. You will want to read the book to find out what happens to the Bender family. Will they ever escape El Pantera’s grasp? Will Meriam and Domingo ever work out their differences? Will life in Paradise Valley ever be peaceful? Grab a copy of this book to read you will not be disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It totally kept my interest and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. I received this book free from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
In the 1920's the Amish in Ohio were facing religious persecution. So Caleb Bender felt he had no choice but to move his family to Mexico. This is the second book in the series of Caleb Bender's daughters. It is inspired by actual events. I like to read books like this~ not only Amish but Historical too. I read the first book~ Paradise Vally and could not wait to get my hands on this book. I was not disappointed. I loved this book.
The Bender family faced many horrific episodes when they tried to set up an Amish settlement in the middle of the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution~ bandits, violence and the fact that Amish are pacifist in the middle of violence at every corner.
This story is about Miriam. She has a hard decision to make~ as a baptized member of the Amish church~ when she finds herself in love with Domingo~ a gentle Mexican who becomes the protector and hero of the Amish settlement. The love story between Miriam and Domingo is amazing all the while you learn the harshness that the Amish face in a very unfamiliar land.
Building an Amish settlement in Mexico was not easy for Caleb Bender and his family. The ending of this book has left me anxiously awaiting the third novel.
My husband reads to me because I can't see that well. It kept us so intrigued that we finished the book in one day, keeping us up to 3:00 in the morning. You just wait to see what is going to happen next.
Caleb Bender and his family left Ohio to start an Amish colony in Mexico. They settled in Paradise Valley, where the land was good for farming. Other families from Ohio followed later. The Mexican government was unable to control the bandits that were harming people and their property. The Bender's were no exception. Several times, they encountered bandit El Pantera, an evil man that was determined to get what he wanted. Being Pacifists, Caleb and the rest of the colony do not fight back when the bandits began showing up. Domingo, a local Mexican, had no problem fighting and helped protect them.
Domingo was a hired hand of the Bender's. He was trying to understand the "Amish God". He learned how to read from Miriam, Caleb's second daughter. She taught school for the Amish children and any locals that wanted to attend. Miriam liked Domingo, but she wasn't sure if he truly cared for her. She had a recurring dream about him that haunted her. She knew she couldn't be with him so she started to court Micah Shrock.
Ada, Caleb's oldest daughter, was mentally handicapped. She was faced with a scary situation that she had to figure out alone. I like how Dale made Ada a main character. Not many books touch on mentally handicapped people. He did a good job of showing the world through Ada's eyes and thoughts
Rachel was Caleb's third born daughter. She was thrilled when Jake Weaver arrived with the newest members to the colony. She and Jake liked each other back in Ohio. They start courting after he got to Paradise Valley. Jake would do anything to show Rachel that he loved her and wanted to be married to her.
Aaron, one of Caleb's two sons, played an important role in the book also. His twin brother, Amos, died before they left Ohio. Aaron was devastated. When his sister had a boy, she named him Amos. Helping take care of Little Amos helped bring Aaron back to his old self.
This book is based on a true story. Life for the new colony was not easy with the bandits and fatal illness that seemed to overtake the area. Caleb and the colony suffered . We see how Caleb and his family overcame the odds against them, even though they didn't always win. Several characters in this book made decisions that affected their faith and had consequences that could change their lives forever. The Captive Heart has romance but it's not a sweet, sugary book. There is heartache and loss. Life was hard during this time period and Dale paints a good picture of the struggles. People were dying from Diphtheria. Safety of people and property were a big concern. The Captive Heart is filled with action and adventure, happiness and sadness, love and hate. Paradise Valley and it's surrounding are were described so well I could picture them as I read. I wasn't sure if I would like this book when I first stared reading it. Dale Cramer quickly pulled me into the characters lives and I couldn't wait to read about them. I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see how things turn out.
The Daughters of Caleb Bender Series #1 Paradise Valley #2 The Captive Heart #3 TBA
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest review.
The Captive Heart is the long awaited sequel to Paradise Valley, which I reviewed last April. You can read that post on my blog.
I was very anxious to read this second book, because it continues the story of the Bender family and like Paradise Valley, is based upon a true story. I would suggest starting with Paradise Valley first, so that you get the back story on the religious persecution that drove the Benders from their home in Ohio, to Mexico.
The Captive Heart deals with the conflict of Miriam Bender falling in love with someone outside of her Amish faith, and also continues the story of the challenges and hardships the Benders face in their new territory.
Like Paradise Valley, I found this story to be interesting and relevant and far more contemporary than much of the Amish fiction that is out there. You don’t often find bandits and weapons mixed in with the Amish community! I think part of the reason I am enjoying these books so much, is that they stray from the expected storyline of what I am used to reading in Amish fiction. I loved the twists and turns that Dale added to make the characters and plot exciting and interesting.
Dale Cramer is one of my favorite authors and if you haven’t been introduced to his books yet, I highly suggest you take the time to read them!
This book was great. I love Amish books but I believe this may be one of my very favorite series. In The Captive Heart, which is book 2 of the series, the Bender family have other Amish families move to Mexico to start new lives. However, hardship hits with a breakout of Diphtheria and Bandits...which really put to test the faith of the Amish families. This Amish story just seemed to be more what real life is about. It is more than just being different or being made fun of because of how you dress or how you look. It was about living your convictions and realizing that sometimes those convictions are not always easy to live. I started this book around 8p.m. and finished it at 2:00a.m. I just could not put it down. The only thing that bothers me is that I have to wait for book # 3 to see what happens next. I don't think anyone would be disappointed by this book.
Book Synopsis Life seems to have just settled down for the Amish settlers - their community is growing, turmoil is non existent, and their fields are showing the promise of a bountiful harvest. All seems well, until bandits, diptheria, and confusion strike.
My Thoughts First, I wish to state that just as the first book was an enjoyable read with a decent plot, this book was also a god book in those aspects. However, I was grieved to find that I cringed several times while reading through it.
While their simple lifestyle is a wonderful oasis in the desert of our selfish, harried culture, there are various doctrinal differences which I disagree strongly with. For instance, this book ends with the characters facing the dilima of manslaughter and killing in self-defense, half convinced that a person who is 'guilty' of these "sins" is going to hell. Although killing a man is a serious thing, Christians are not called to be pacifists. I'll not debate the whole matter here, since many wiser than me have already done so, but it is for these reasons that I have mainly avoided "Amish" fiction for years, and will likely continue to mostly do.
That being said, this book does have many redemptive qualities to it, though it must be read in light of Scripture.
Like the first book, I do not recommend this for children or young readers.
Rating 6 out of 10 stars
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.
The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer is a book set in the time of the Amish settling of Mexico in the 1920s. It tells of the hardships of diseases ravaging the colony without help of nearby doctors. It tells of the deaths of those who were not strong enough to withstand the harsh life or diseases. It tells of death from the bandits' raids on their settlement as well as when they would need to travel the unsafe roads. This book tells of being a people of God who would not resort to violence in a violent world. The story tells of young love that is strong though met with difficulties at every turn.
I found this story exciting and interesting to a lover of historical romance. The story holds the interest of the reader. I in fact read this 344 page book in 2 days and I would have loved to have read it in one setting but my life insisted in going on while I just wanted to read this book. I am leery of reading love stories written by men but Dale Cramer has been able to reveal the heart of a woman in a way most men cannot. In the acknowledgements he states that his wife helps him edit it. They really have it down to a science because I never once thought during the reading, "a woman wouldn't do or say that". This is a great read and I am glad that I was privileged to have read it.
This book was provided by Bethany House for this review.
The Captive Heart is book two in the Daughters of Caleb Bender series by Dale Cramer. It’s an ongoing saga of a family, the Benders, who have fled their home in Ohio for religious freedom. They move to Mexico to a land called Paradise Valley. In this second book, the Bender family is joined by other families and more trouble from bandits. The Benders deal with much heart ache and pain in The Captive Heart and ultimately, Miriam is has to make a decision that can rip her heart in two.
I had a hard time getting into this book. The first four or five chapters seemed to go slow for me. However, once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. There were several parts that really caught my attention spiritually and even struck up discussion in my home. It was a blessing to me! I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I just can’t wait to find out how it all pans out.
The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer is the second book in the “Daughters of Caleb Bender” series. If you’re interested in this book, then take my advice and read “Paradise Valley” first; taken as a whole you’ll enjoy it so much more. If you already have read the first one, then you are familiar with the storyline; an Amish family moves from the US to Mexico to start over free from government encroachment on its way of life, and pioneers a farming community that others Amish families plan to join. Dale Cramer does an excellent job of bringing the reader in; the characters and their experiences are believable and engaging. For the reader there is a tangible sense of tension and frustration at the predicaments that Caleb Bender’s family members find themselves in as they face wandering bands of outlaws who threaten their property and lives- while refusing to defend themselves or fight back. We’re used to heroes that stand up and fight, as opposed to those that yield, and I enjoyed mulling on the scenarios that caused me to question if-or when- engaging in physical violence is ever an appropriate response for a Christian. Cramer does ultimately give the reader a hero such as we would expect, but he’s not Amish. Domingo, a native man introduced in the first novel becomes a central figure in this second book, as he attempts to defend, rescue, and to some extent try to understand the Amish family he works for, and as a seemingly hopeless romance begins to blossom between him and Miriam, one of the Bender daughters. I loved Paradise Valley, and eagerly awaited this second book, “The Captive Heart,” and when I got my hands on this book I read it in one sitting- and now I’m waiting impatiently for book three! It’s not that I’m a huge fan of Amish fiction; in fact, I think this might be the first Amish-themed fiction I’ve ever read. But I am a fan of the underdog- and I am inspired by faith so strong it trusts the sovereignty of God in even the worst situations. And I have to admit, I really enjoy learning about the Amish way of life, the values, the mindset, and the culture; there’s something to be gained from reading about a people who are fundamentally counter-cultural, and even though I am not Amish and never will be, as a Christian I am called to live ‘set apart.’ Quite apart from personal edification, this series is also simply enjoyable. The characters are well-developed, believable, and engaging- particularly considering the number of central characters. Dale Cramer is skilled in his ability to switch point of view fluidly, which keeps things interesting and keeps the storyline moving. If you’ve got a quiet afternoon on your hands, I can’t think of a better way to pass it than by reading this series – hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
When I found out that I was going to be reviewing The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer, I realized it is the second book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series. So while I was waiting for my copy to arrive, I went to the library and checked out the first book in the series, Paradise Valley. I was hooked!! I flew through that book and couldn't wait for The Captive Heart to arrive! When it did, I devoured it as well.
I'll be honest, I had never read anything by Dale Cramer, or read any Amish book by a male author. I just wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it. Mr. Cramer is one of my new favorite Amish fiction writers now! His father was old-order Amish. You can read more about him and his books here.
Captive Hearts is based on actual events, about a group of old-order Amish who flee their homes to relocate in the mountains of Mexico, in order to keep their children from being forced to attend public school. This was a very unsettled time in Mexico, and extremely dangerous for the gentle Amish people. The newcomers have many problems adjusting to their new lives. The book was very well written, flowed wonderfully, and had just the right mix of danger, mystery, and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope Mr. Cramer is planning another book in the series!
The Captive Heart, by Dale Cramer, is a sequel to Paradise Valley, continuing the story of the Amish community’s struggles in 1920's Mexico. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it had many similarities to other Amish fiction that I’ve read, the setting added new twists, addressing issues such as the Amish characters’ commitment to pacifism while trying to survive in a lawless society where bandits freely roamed stealing and kidnapping and law enforcement was of little help. Miriam Bender struggles with her affection for a non-Christian, and certainly non-Amish Mexican and her desire to live a faithful Amish life. Epidemics, attacks by bandits, and kidnappings keep the plot exciting.
I found this story fast paced and hard to put down. I read it in one day!
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. All opinions are my own.
In the spring of 1922, Caleb Bender brought his family to Paradise Valley to start a new Amish Colony. He moved his family because of religious persecution in Ohio. Now in their second year in Mexico they welcome more and more families from Ohio to Paradise Valley. The Colony has tripled.
Life is very hard in Paradise Valley. Bandits are still a threat and when they strike they are ruthless.
During an outbreak of Diphtheria and the loss of lives, at least one of the families of the Colony has decided to leave Paradise Valley and return to Ohio.
Caleb’s family is put to the test. There will be many heart breaking incidences that will cause Caleb sleepless nights. Did he do the right thing by bringing his family to Paradise Valley? Will his family survive all that has happened?
This book was a real page turner for me. I was literally on the edge of my seat while reading this book. I couldn’t stand not knowing what would happen next and picked up this book as often as possible tuning everything and everybody out. When I wasn’t reading this book I was thinking about the characters in the book and worrying what would become of them. What would happen to the Bender family that I grew so fond of? This book will pull at your very heart strings and will take you through a gamut of emotions. I laughed, I cried, I worried, I fretted, I got angry…real angry, I also praised God. I thank the Author Dale Cramer for always showing God’s presence throughout this book. I can’t wait for book three to be published!
I wish to thank Bethany House for sending me The Captive Heart to read and review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer This book has a different twist on Amish fiction and I so enjoyed the different places and people. Amish people in Mexico in the 1920s are not something I had ever thought about. Caleb Bender has moved his family to Mexico to escape religious persecution and yet they will have difficulties, struggles and death of family that he probably had never dreamed of. One daughter, Miriam, falls in love with someone outside their Amish community and faith, but tries to follow the Amish way of courting inside their sect. Another daughter, Rachel, has fallen in love with an Amish boy, but has so many trials ahead of her. Then a bandit, El Pantera, parades into their lives and causes more trouble that the non-violent family has ever seen. This bandit has no morals and is bent on destroying the Bender family or anyone else that crosses his path. For the most part the family clings to their faith in God and his deliverance from this evil man. Then to add to their misery, they face a life threatening disease. Does this strengthen them or do them in? You will have to read this book and see the outcome of all their trials, who lives and who doesn’t, who becomes stronger and who becomes weaker… Amish Fiction is definitely my favorite genre and this book has some old west action added to it. I can’t wait for the 3rd book to come out in December, 2012.
I received a review copy of The Captive Heart from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Even though this is book #2 you can still pick it up and be able to know what is going on! So don't be afraid that you will be lost. This is a true story about an Amish settlement in Mexico in the early 1900's. Mr. Cramer does a wonderful job of keeping the reader turning page after page! I could not imagine what these people went thru and the struggles they faced. You will find you just want to get to the end of the book to find out what happens to everyone but then again you don't want the book to end. Job well done!! I do hope this series does continue for a few more books please. :)