HER HEART’S DESIRE by Shelley Shepard Gray
SERIES: A Season in Pinecraft #1
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary/Amish Romance
RELEASE DATE: January 3, 2023
Mary Margaret Miller needs an escape from her small Amish community. She boards a bus, all alone, for a vacation in Pinecraft, Florida. Meeting Betsy and Lilly on the way, she’s amazed to find two kindred spirits. They become fast friends and determine to have the best two weeks of their lives. For Mary, it starts when she meets Jayson Raber. The handsome and charming carpenter is taken by Mary from the get-go, but he has responsibilities back home in Kentucky–including a girl he’s supposed to marry.
When someone from Mary’s past shows up in Pinecraft, it seems like her perfect vacation is ruined. But that’s nothing compared to what’s coming when she realizes what Jayson has been hiding.
Take a vacation with New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray as she explores what happens when we allow our pasts to define our futures in this story of friendship, romance, and new beginnings.
Other Books In This Series
Shelley Shepard Gray first introduced me to the popular Amish beach-vacation destination of Pinecraft in her Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, and I’ve been fascinated with it ever since. So I was really happy to find out that her newest series, while unrelated, also takes place in Pinecraft!
Three Amish wallflowers each board the same bus for Florida from different communities, and after being thrust together in unexpected circumstances they discover they have much in common. The trio of Mary Margaret, Betsy, and Lilly become fast friends and since they are all staying at the same B&B they are pretty much inseparable during their stay. I enjoyed meeting each of these three young women who so desperately want to be braver and more confident than they are, and I loved that their new friendships give them the boost they’ve been looking for in both of those areas. Sometimes all it really takes is one person to turn things around for someone else, and in this case all three girls provide that catalyst for each other. Gray writes sweetly memorable romances but she also excels at writing friendships that readers can relate to – and Mary, Betsy & Lilly are prime examples. There’s another young woman that will make it a tentative fourth but there are some layers there that make this relationship not as easy for Mary as her quick friendship with Betsy & Lilly. I thought this made the characters even more relatable, since I readily identified with first Mary herself and then her mixed emotions regarding this newcomer to the story.
Jayson is a handsome young Amish man from Kentucky who is also staying at the B&B, and Mary immediately catches his eye. There’s something about her that draws him in and brings out his flirty side, leaving Mary in turns flustered and intrigued. I enjoyed watching them fall in love, conflict and all, and I was rooting for them to find their happily-ever-after even when it looks unlikely. The sweetness and innocence of their romance brought a smile to my face, and the layers of each character kept me invested in the outcome. I wanted to knock Jayson upside the head a couple of times (haha) but I still genuinely liked him.
Another intriguing character to me is Michael, a nineteen-year-old Amish man who lives in Pinecraft year-round. Raised by his cold and unwelcoming aunt and uncle since the death of his parents, Michael has been saving his tips and salary from the restaurant where he works in hopes of living on his own sooner rather than later. He may only be nineteen but life has aged him, and I felt in some ways that he was even more mature than Jayson. You’ll probably be as surprised as I was by who he falls in love with (and steadily pursues) but I can’t imagine it any other way now.
Bottom Line: Shelley Shepard Gray’s stories are always so refreshing, and Her Heart’s Desire is no exception! The warm writing voice, the engaging characters, and two sweet romances will leave readers light of heart and smiling, too. Pinecraft makes the perfect setting for these characters and their stories, and I loved the friendships that will last beyond the all-too-short vacation. Her Heart’s Desire lays the groundwork for what promises to be another delightful series from this author, and I’m already looking forward to Betty’s story!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion
Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 100 books, including Her Heart’s Desire. Two-time winner of the HOLT Medallion and a Carol Award finalist, Gray lives in Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail. Please visit her website to find out her latest news or to sign up for her newsletter.
What about you? What makes you want to read Her Heart’s Desire by Shelley Shepard Gray?