Amy King-young, engaged, and Amish-faces difficult challenges in her life when she suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. Her fianci, John Detweiler, persuades her and her sister Nora to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who can help the women in their time of need.
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This first book of the New Beginnings series takes Amy King and her sister Nora from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to a more conservative Amish settlement in Maine, along with Amy intended, John Detweiler. They surprise John’s brother and family, with whom they stay. Thomas and Sally Detweiler somewhat grudgingly accept the outsiders, but the King girls struggle to fit in and miss their departed parents and the home they left behind. Nora suffers from headaches and often shirks work.
Amy and John had planned to marry soon, but their new district insists upon a longer wait. Thomas is a minister there, and responsibilities lie heavy on his shoulders. Sally does not feel accepted or supported by the rest of the women in her role as the minister’s wife. Can Amy help her with this dilemma?
Adding to their difficulties is the Kings’ wayward aunt, with whom Amy reconnects. Aunt Prudence had been shunned, and they aren’t to have anything to do with her. Then there’s the youngest Detweiler, Elam, who refuses to live by Amish standards yet attracts Nora. What will come from this dangerous relationship?
With all the trials coloring this story, can it live up to the double-meaning of the novel’s title? Their town may be called Harmony, but can they possibly achieve such status as Living in Harmony? Mary Ellis offers an interesting read set in real-life Amish location.
LIVING IN HARMONY by Mary Ellis is a wonderful Amish inspirational romance set in Harmony, Maine. Book 1 in a new series "The New Beginnings" and what a beginning. Follow Amy King and John Detweiler on a journey to find truth,secrets,love and peace. With lost,grief,faith,discovery,Amy and John does not discovery a picture perfect life or place,but learn so much more than they expected. A story of love,being shunned,tragedy, and second chances. Ms. Ellis is not only a talented author,she draws the reader into her stories and her character's lives. I enjoy Amish stories and this author's stories,this title was no exception. With lovable,believable,and engaging characters and an interesting plot you will not regret picking up the first in "The New Beginnings" series, "Living In Harmony".A must for anyone who enjoys Amish fiction,inspirational,while not "preachy",romance and just a plain good read. Received from an honest review from the publisher and Wynn-Wynn Media. Details can be found at the author's website, Harvest House Publishers and My Book Addiction and More.
HEAT RATING: SWEET
REVIEWED BY: AprilR,My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews
I love my Amish Fiction and have read a lot of it. This book was a bit dry for my tastes. I was surprised as I have read this author before. There was so much time devoted to the struggles they were having that after a while I just wanted to get the book read and be done with it. It was very different and I'm not sure I'll pursue this series after this first book. Kind of disappointed.
Harmony, Maine. As wonderful as the name sounds, it hasn't been the ideal picture of a perfect life since moving here from Lancaster, Pennsylvania for Amy and Nora King. Since a tragic fire that claimed the lives of their parents, Amy and Nora have decided to head north with John Detweiler, Amy's fiance in search of a new opportunities and a future with another Amish community just being established.
However when they arrive, Amy and John soon learn that their plans to marry may have to wait until their Bishop in Maine declares that they have met all the requirements of this new more strict Amish Order. Since they have both been baptized since moving to Maine it makes it a little easier, but not much. In addition, Amy was hoping to get a job to help them save enough money to purchase land and a home but soon finds out that is forbidden. So they will need to stay with John's brother, Thomas and his wife, Sally a little bit longer. They also learn that there is no opportunities for singings, social outings or rides in a courting buggy because that, too is forbidden.
The hardest challenge is for Nora, who is twenty and was in the midst of her rumspringa in Lancaster, soon finds out there rumspringa is forbidden in the new community of Harmony. Not only that but she has to make all new clothes to wear because the bright colors of her dresses are forbidden. So she must now wear black, brown or a dark navy blue instead. She also learns that since there isn't any social gatherings her prospects of finding a husband in this new community are going to be pretty limited. She wonders if perhaps she shouldn't reconsider about moving back home to Lancaster to stay with her grandparents like her other two sisters. Is there a way to find true harmony in Harmony?
I received Living in Harmony be Mary Ellis compliments of Harvest House Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and found this to be a surprising twist to most Amish stories. Normally it's difficult for an English reader to understand the harsh restrictions placed on Amish people based on their religious beliefs but in this novel, it is the Amish from one community that soon realize how difficult it is sometimes to make changes and live by more strict requirements. I found this novel refreshing in that it offered that unique perspective and as the character of Amy King grows in her awareness of just what this move has meant to not only her sister, but to her as well, will she realize that perhaps John may not be the man she believed he was before leaving Lancaster. I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars. For those of you that love Amish romantic fiction, you'll want to pick this one up. This is the first book in the New Beginnings Series and I can't wait for more!
As I read this story I kept thinking...they should leave, go back home. But author Mary Ellis made John, Amy and Nora stick it out and in the end everything comes together. The story was well written and I enjoyed it a great deal. If you are a fan of Amish romance, I suggest reading Living in Harmony.
***I received this copy free for the purpose of review. The above is my honest opinion.***
“Living in Harmony” is a well written, gentle novel of faith and what might be termed by some as ‘an Amish romance.’ Living in Harmony” is the first in a planned three book set themed “New Beginnings.”
“Living in Harmony” tells the story of a young, engaged Amish woman, Amy, and her sister, Nora, who lose their parents and home in a tragic fire. She is persuaded to move from her lifelong community in Lancaster County to a new beginning in Harmony, Maine, welcomed by her fiancé’s relatives. Her future brother-in-law is the minister in this ultraconservative district and refuses to marry the couple until he is assured of their assimilation. Amy reaches out to an aunt who is living, shunned, in another community which causes concern for her fiancé John. Nora, the favored child growing up in Pennsylvania is particularly affected by the restrictive community. The family and religious dynamics are realistic and the reader is engaged with their situation as well as the details about the Amish Community in remote, northern Maine.
Mary Ellis, who grew up in Ohio and continues to reside with her husband near one of the largest settlements of Amish, may be unique in the amount of research and advance preparation she completes before she sits down to write. She does not “just google it”, relying on second hand or online information but sends out written inquiries in advance of visiting an area as she did on a recent trip to communities in Kentucky. The combination of a good storyteller able to paint vivid word pictures using solid background detail is golden. Mary Ellis lives and writes by her motto, “Because life runs on faith.” She backs her faith with friendship, hard work, dedication and attention to detail.
GENRE: AMISH PUBLISHER: HARVEST HOUSE PUBLICATION DATE: AUGUST 01, 2012 RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 - NEAR PERFECT
PROS: Explores what happens after the "happily ever after"; original storyline; realistically flawed protagonists; new setting and community; fleshed out secondary characters
When Amy King's parents die in a tragic house fire, she and her fiancé decide to make a fresh start in the new Amish community of Harmony, Maine. John Detweiler's brother and sister-in-law settled there a few years ago, and a smaller, more conservative community appeals to John after experiencing the ways that tourism can interfere with the Amish way of life in Pennsylvania. Amy's younger sister, Nora, decides to join them in Maine, in the hope that she might meet some eligible young men in Harmony. But when they arrive, the King sisters are shocked at how small Harmony truly is, and they're baffled by some of the community's rules. There are limitations on the sizes of bonnets and the colours of dresses, courting buggies don't exist and singings are chaperoned by the rest of the community. Amy is committed to making life work for her and John in Harmony, but Nora isn't so convinced, and her behaviour quickly becomes the cause of disputes between the couple. But Nora isn't the only cause of friction between John and Amy. John wishes to marry as soon as possible, but his minister brother isn't keen to rush into things and believes that the couple needs a period of adjustment considering the recent death of Amy's parents and their move to a new community. As time drags on and Amy, John and Nora continue to live with Thomas and Sally and learn the rules of Harmony, Amy and John's relationship experiences more problems. John is keen for them to prove to the community that they're ready to settle and marry in Harmony, but when Amy reaches out to a shunned family member, John is worried about the repercussions. He sees it as his duty to protect Amy from potentially damaging relationships. But is this the way Amy will perceive his actions? Do both of them have something to learn about love and commitment?
Just when you think nothing new and original can come out of the Amish genre, a book like this comes along and proves that you're completely wrong. While I wasn't exactly sold by the cover of Living in Harmony, the setting of Maine appealed to me, and I had hoped that at least the change of scenery would make this book stand out. Well, it looks like I severely underestimated Mary Ellis. After thoroughly enjoying both Sarah's Christmas Miracle and Abigail's New Hope, I knew that Mary was a great story-teller, and Living in Harmony proves this one again. This is by no means your average Amish romance, and it breaks new ground for Amish fiction by telling the story of a couple who have already fallen in love but still have plenty of obstacles to overcome before they marry. So many romances finish with the declaration of love and fail to mention the trials that are yet to come. The engagement period can be the most difficult in any relationship, as Amy and John soon discover. Don't let the fact that this isn't a standard romance put you off; Amy and John still have plenty of interesting twists and turns to take on the road to marriage, and they certainly make for a compelling read.
Since Living in Harmony begins with the death of Amy's parents and her decision to move to Maine with John, it takes a while to get to know our principal characters and understand their relationship. This was an interesting route for the novel to take, as most Amish novels introduce the reader to the hero and heroine separately, let us get to know them as individuals and then make us fall in love with them as a couple. Living in Harmony is completely the opposite of this, and readers are forced to get to know Amy and John as a couple and figure out their personalities from the way that they relate to each other. Thomas and Sally also have to get to know John and Amy this way, and I imagine that they are just as bemused about aspects of their relationship as the readers are. As a newlywed, it was encouraging to read about a couple who still had doubts about their future and issues they needed to address before they finally made a commitment to each other. Their relationship was not perfect by any means, which sort of makes Living in Harmony an antidote for Amish romance novels with perfect happy endings.
While a large part of this book focuses on John and Amy adjusting to life in Maine and preparing to marry, they're joined by a great cast of secondary characters. Amy's younger sister, Nora, tags along for the journey but fails to adjust to conservative life in Harmony. Nora's rebellious attitude may initially irritate some readers, but it's soon revealed that she's running away from a past mistake in Pennsylvania, and this revelation will make every reader want to comfort Nora and make her realise how much she's truly loved. Nora's past is reminiscent of Sally's, John's sister-in-law, who is struggling to adapt to life as a minister's wife and is often made to feel that she's not good enough by the women of the community. Sally's growth as a character was incredibly encouraging to read about, and I loved how supportive her husband was. Thomas was quite different from the typical Amish male character, so he made for a refreshing change. His brother, Elam, isn't typical either, and Elam's rebellious nature causes him to get along well with Nora, much to Amy and John's disapproval. I never really understood what Elam's motivations were, but I'm sure this is something that's explored in the second novel in the New Beginnings series, Love Comes to Paradise. Often with such a large cast of characters, a few come across as not being fully fleshed out or believable, but this wasn't the case with Living in Harmony. Each character had their own personality and purpose in the novel, which means that there's bound to be at least one character that every reader can relate to.
It's hard to express exactly what I loved so much about Living in Harmony. It's not just the setting, the new community and the realistic secondary characters that made this novel so refreshing and unique. Mary Ellis crafted her hero and heroine as incredibly relatable characters, flawed human beings who prove that even the Amish don't have perfect relationships or marriages. John and Amy made a lot of mistakes over the course of the novel, which endeared them all the more to me. If you need a little bit more realism in your Amish fiction, or just don't want to read a happily-ever-after romance, then Living in Harmony is the book for you.
I just finished this latest story. I loved it. This story takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster and will keep you turning the page. Insights into the differences within the communities of the Amish orders and the impact of shunning on the families are revealed in quite a personal way. What an interesting and exciting easy read! Mary Ellis never disappoints. She is still my number one author to read. But, I have learned one thing when it comes to her books, I never begin one until I have enough time to savor every scene from start to finish. I just cannot stop once I begin the story and always find myself wanting the next story right away.
I really liked having the first chapter of the next book in the New Beginnings Series at the end of Living in Harmony. I'm ready for the next installment.
Amy suddenly loses both parents and must decide how to take care of herself and her sister. Her fiancé, John convinces her to move from their family home to his relatives’ home in Maine. There John’s brother and sister-in-law welcome them. This is where the story really picks up speed. Watching the two main characters relate to each other, learn about themselves and grow up a bit made this story a quick read.
I liked how the brother steps in and begins to counsel Amy and John. I thought their interactions were very well written and believable. The story of these two characters could almost take place in any setting. The authors’ decision to have this set in Amish country does add to the meat of the story though. Anyone who enjoys stories about the Amish will like this story and really any other book written by this author that centers on the Amish.
This story has just enough complications to make it interesting. The characters are well developed; you get an understanding of who they are pretty quickly. The relationship of the sisters is sweet. The relationship to those around them is engaging. I gave this book 5/5 stars because I liked the story itself and fell in love with the characters.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
Moving with John, her fiancé, to a more conservative Amish district, Amy faces unexpected challenges. Because her parents are dead, Amy is pleased to locate an aunt who was shunned by the Amish. Amy travels to visit her aunt against John’s wishes. Her trip and finding that she cannot trust John causes Amy to doubt the wisdom of marrying John. An accomplished writer, Mary Ellis gives the reader strong, distinct characters. Her descriptions of the ways of the Amish bring the reader into the community, the household, and mindset of the characters.
In the bestselling author Mary Ellis’s New Beginnings series Living in Harmony is the first book. Mary Ellis has written another great book. Living in Harmony is about fresh starts and love and how faith in God and His perfect plan for our lives provides us with the peace and joy we desire.
Amy King plans to marry her fiancé, John Detweiler in November, when she is faced with difficult challenges in her life. She suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. John Detweiler has relatives who lives in Harmony, Maine. He persuades Amy and her sister Nora to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony.
John’s brother Thomas and sister-in-law Sally readily open their home to the three newcomers. Thomas, a minister in the district, refuses to marry Amy and John upon their arrival. He is suggesting instead a period of adjustment and counseling. During this time, Amy discovers an aunt who was shunned. She wishes to reconnect with her, but this puts a strain on her relationship with John.
Can John and Amy find a way to live in happily in Harmony before making a lifetime commitment to one another?
I really LOVED the story and I cant wait to read "Love Comes to Paradise" in January 2013. 5 stars out of 5 is the rating for the book. It was an honor to read the book sent to me by Mary Ellis from Harvest House Publishers. Thank you, Harvest House Publishers for the size font used in printing the book.
**I received this book from Harvest House Publishers by request of May Ellis. I am not required to give a positive review, just an honest one. The opinions expressed are mine alone.**
The Amish in Maine are nothing like their brethren in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Amy and her sister Nora are stunned when they arrive with Amy's fiancé John. Amy embraces the ultraconservative lifestyle, and is further pleased to discover a long-lost shunned aunt is nearby. John is anxious to get married and start his own farm. He is harshly critical of his young sister-in-law Sally, who is having a hard time adjusting to her role as minister's wife. He is also judgmental of Amy's aunt, and connives to prevent their reunion. John’s brother Thomas is a joy for his support and encouragement of Sally through all her kitchen disasters, and his compassionate ministering. Pride leads to John’s downfall when Amy learns of his interference regarding her aunt. Surprisingly, Nora, who rebels against the district’s strictness, urges caution when Amy decides to break her engagement. An intriguing look at the Amish beyond the familiar Lancaster group.
"Living in Harmony" the best word to describe this book is FANTASTIC I really think it deserves more than 5 stars. it is a wonderful Christian book. The family goes through a terrible tragedy but they do overcome it with Prayer and a loving family, some of the family members move to Harmony Maine and have to go through a lot of different changes from what they were used to in Lancaster, I really think everyone who loves Amish fiction will really love this book, I can hardly wait for the next book in the series. I have told so many of my friends about this book and they to are going to pick up a copy
I love a new Mary Ellis Book, and I particularly love getting one that is the first of a new series. Mary’s newest Amish novel, Living in Harmony, contains all the elements I value so highly in her previous books. She writes about the Amish community with solid understanding, yet she doesn’t make the members sound perfect. In fact, some of the characters in Harmony, such as Nora and Elam, struggle with being Amish believers at all. They don’t like the restriction of the lifestyle or the lost opportunities to belong to a wider world. I’m sure that happens in real life as well.
As usual, too, Living in Harmony deals with some serious, culture-crossing issues. Can a woman retain her independence within her marriage? Should she do so? What does it mean to truly love your neighbor? How can you be sure when you’ve found the right role for yourself in life, or the right home, or even the right husband? Harmony’s characters wrestle with these and other real and thorny questions.
Living in Harmony reveals the wide disparity of societal and family rules common to the various Amish communities around the US. Many of us Englishers may have thought that there is complete uniformity among such communities. Mary shows us some of the differences and also, how those differences might impact newcomers to one of the communities. When Amy King and her sister Nora come to Harmony, Maine, they are faced with changes in customs that pinch like uncomfortable shoes: clothing colors and styles, restrictions on the freedom of young people, treatment of family members who have displeased the community, and even different holiday observances. Can they learn to live with joy in the face of what seems like unnecessary repression? And what will happen to them if they cannot? How the girls choose their lives amid this new community is at the heart of the book—and it makes for a fascinating novel. If you haven’t read one of Mary’s books before, you’ll find this one a great place to begin. And if you have, you should know that Living in Harmony is just as well-written and interesting as you’ve come to expect from this author’s work.