BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Beloved, bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter tells a heartrending story from 1880 Pennsylvania.  Elizabeth Canning discovers an awful secret in her deceased mother’s diary. Believing her chances for a happy marriage are spoiled, she leaves her fiancĂ© a letter and flees town thinking all hope of a marriage to David is lost. Praying that distance will heal her broken heart, she takes refuge in her grandparents’ Pennsylvania home.

Anticipating a Christmas Eve wedding with Elizabeth, David Stinner is confused by her letter and desperate to find her. Can David root out the truth about the past and bring back his bride? Or is the truth destined to bring an ultimate end to their romance?

With this book Wanda steps away from the Amish I am custom to reading by her and explores historical romantic fiction instead. She took what she was amazing at, creating characters and settings that while simple are amazingly developed, and went a bit of a different way. I can’t say it was a great leap as the modern conveniences that Amish go without weren’t in great abundance in 1880s anyway. It was little things that captured the difference for me. Yet still a great book that drew me in, held me rapt, and ended entirely too soon.

Elizabeth Canning is in love. Like serious swooning love with David Stinner. She’s planned the perfect wedding at her family cabin on Christmas Eve, which also happens to be her 20th birthday, where she plans to live happily ever after. Until she finds her Aunt’s old journal buried in a drawer in a desk in the old cabin. An Aunt she’s never met, an Aunt no one really knows where she lives, and an Aunt who could help clear the ‘secret’ up. Elizabeth is quick to run, hide, flee what she fears from the journal. It just has to be said, the people in this book that Elizabeth confides in are so gossipy! Here’s what’s what please don’t tell. Without any push ‘opps so I didn’t tell you this but ...’. Really? Every person asked to help protect her from what she fears blabs! Every. Last. One. Of. Them. I mean without them doing so the book would have been ever so much longer...perhaps not such a bad thing after all. David is heartbroken that his love has disappeared. He wraps up the mystery of the Aunt a bit too neatly for my taste but alas, all things must somehow be revealed.

The characters are relatable and somewhat loveable, even for their gossipy-ness. The story line is interesting, unique, and completely fleshed out. It wasn’t a deep draw you in read but it was definitely a great way to spend a lazy evening in bed. Honestly, it was a perfect use of that time!

The Christmas Secret
About Wanda E. Brunstetter
Wanda E. Brunstetter is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Amish and historical fiction. She's also written Amish cookbooks, Amish-themed devotionals, and several children's books with Amish characters.
Wanda E. Brunstetter writes about the Amish because they live a simple life, which she feels we all need in this day and age.
Wanda and her husband Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, have Amish friends in several Amish communities.
Besides writing books, Wanda's a professional ventriloquist. In her spare time she photography, gardening, knitting, looking for shells and agates on the beach, and spending time with her family.

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