When spinster Sara, the rebel who wants to be a midwife, is summoned to help her friend Abby, she warns Abby's husband, "Mad" Adam Zuckerman, that he will kill Abby with too many pregnancies. Her words are prophetic. She finds Abby dead in childbirth. Adam then insists she take his four little girls away with her.

Later, when Adam breaks his leg in a fall, Sara moves back in, bringing the children with her. The girls seem wary of Adam, and he seems to dislike them. Then the elders insist that Sara and Adam marry because they have been living in sin. Sara, who loves the children, agrees. But Adam, while consenting to be married, refuses to bed Sara.

Slowly, circumstances reveal that Adam equates love with abuse and is afraid to love Sara or the children for fear of becoming an abuser himself. How these two souls come to love and family is a believable, engaging story. Some of the secondary characters are less well rounded, but the primary story is very relevant. The author cleverly sets the story among the reticent Amish, so there's a reason for the lack of communication between the characters. Thank goodness this is a romance, so it can end happily ever after. SWEET (Jun., 306 pp., $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Bunny Callahan