The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer

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.

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