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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Audio Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Jacob's Return by Annette Blair

This is a twisted tale of betrayal, sorrow, sin and stolen joy. It is engaging but goes a bit beyond what one might expect in an Amish story. 
Jacob's Return
by Annette Blair
Narrator: Ariana Westfield
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: AudioLark Audio Books
  • Audible.com Release Date: March 27, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007P5NBM2
Genre: Historical Romance, Amish
(Caveat -
I note this as it is unexpected in an Amish story:
there is a passionate scene in an adulterous relationship.)
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0


 Product Description
Jacob Sauder abandons his Amish heritage when the woman he loves, Rachel Zook, agrees to marry his brother, Simon. Though he adapts to the ways of the “English” — even fathering twins — he remains an outsider. When the mother of his twins dies, Jacob knows only one way to raise his children — the Amish way. He brings them home to the community he vowed to leave forever. For his children he can do anything, even be strong when he sees Rachel, his love, married to his brother.

Years ago, Simon lied to ensure a future with Rachel Zook as his wife. Now Rachel is barren, a disappointment to him. Unaware of the lie Simon told to drive Jacob away, Rachel believes Jacob abandoned her when he left the Amish community. Shocked when he returns with two-year-old twins, Rachel knows there can be nothing between them, for marriage is a life-long commitment among the Amish. But the twins need a mother and Rachel loves children. As she cares for Jacob’s children as if they were her own, her feelings for him deepen into a love that cannot be.

Jacob’s Return is the story of a prodigal son, a forbidden love, and a fanatical preacher. As shocking as it is compelling, Jacob’s Return is both uplifting and unforgettable. A wonderful read, this is a universal story about love and faith in impossible circumstances.


Review:
When Jacob learns that he has twins and their mother has died he determines that he must take them home to be raised Amish. He knows it will be hard to see Rachel, his life long sweetheart, who married his brother, Simon, but he believes that the Amish life will be best for his children.

Jacob’s welcome isn’t assured but Rachel immediately welcomes him and the children. She is thrilled to help out with the twins especially since she has no children of her own. Simon is not glad to see his brother whose return interrupts his service of celebration becoming a Deacon. Simon clearly resents the welcome the prodigal son gets from their father, Rachel and others in the community.

Jacob soon learns that Simon has abused Rachel, shoving her around and verbally destroying her self- image.  When Jacob seeks to protect and comfort Rachel the comforting slides into passion.   Although their love is a joy, they know there is no future for them and they determine to try to do right and live as friends.  Jacob agrees to help Rachel purchase an old printing press so she can continue the neighborly newspaper she started as a teacher. Simon vehemently objects and brings Rachel before the elders on accusations of breaking family duties and church regulations.

As the warm bond between Jacob and Rachel deepens, Simon’s hate and bitterness grows. Rachel’s father, who is the church Bishop, finally lectures Simon and admonishes him to change his ways. It appears that perhaps Simon has had a change of heart until a new event triggers the most violent response yet.

If their sins are discovered it is likely either Jacob or Rachel, if not both, will be shunned. If Jacob takes the brunt of the punishment how can he stay near yet never being able to claim Rachel? If Jacob goes away how can Rachel raise the children without his love and support? If they both leave how will their fathers and friends feel about the lose?

The twists in this story raised a lot of thoughts to ponder. The passion in the romance didn’t disturb me, except that it was in an adulterous relationship which I usually choose not to read.  I was very surprised to read these behaviors as they are not generally associated with an Amish story. The natural emotions and sin  did make me think that Amish are human with the same extremes of emotions as any of us.  Although their disciplines may help to keep them from temptations, they too can stray into sin or there may be those who become twisted and evil.

I found the discussions regarding the newspaper, and some other practical issues, very interesting. I was saddened by the expectation of Jacob being forced away from his children and the woman he loves. I have always respected the Amish community but I wasn’t happy with the injustice of shunning one and yet allowing another forgiveness. I would have argued for a limited time of shunning if there is such a thing. Fortunately, Ms, Blair provided a satisfactory solution.

The writing flows nicely. I enjoyed the smooth narration and particularly liked some of the Amish words. The reading moved pretty seamlessly since I was engaged by the story and not the style. The narrator does a lovely job bringing the characters to life.  There were rather long silences between the chapter breaks which I found unusual, but once I knew what that was they didn’t detract from the emotional intensity of the story.

Thank you to AudioLark Audio Books for providing this book to listen to and review. I have enjoyed some other AudioLark productions and look forward to more.  Also thank you for providing an audio download copy for giveaway.
This story is set in Pennsylvania. I will add this to my ARC, New Author and Audio challenge lists.

TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY for AN AUDIO DOWNLOAD copy: 
 1. Visit the AudioLark website and tell me something that interests you there; something about the site or another book that you'd like in audio. This is required for entry.

2.  For an extra entry, become a follower or tell me if you are already a follower.

3. For two more entries, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.

It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.
(Four total entries possible.)

THERE WILL BE ONE WINNER.
* This contest is only open WORLDWIDE to anyone who can download an audio file.
* Limit one win per household.
* This contest will close 10 PM (Central) on April 13, 2012.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries and announced on April 14 with 72 hours to complete the winners' form.
 CymLowell

7 comments:

  1. Christmas in an Elevator sounds intriguing.

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  4. Head over heels sounds interesting.

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