3 stars

The Beekeeper’s Son by Kelly Irvin

The Beekeeper’s Son (The Amish of Bee County #1) by Kelly Irvin
Pub. Date: January 12, 2015
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Zondervan!!)
Summary: Phineas King knows better than to expect anything but shock and pity wherever he shows his face. Horribly scarred from the tragic accident that claimed his mother s life, he chooses to keep his distance from everyone, focusing his time and energy on the bees his family raises. If no one sees him, no one can judge him. So why does he start finding excuses to seek out Deborah Lantz, the beautiful new arrival in town?

Deborah can t get out of Bee County, Texas, soon enough. Once her mother and younger siblings are settled, she is on the first bus out of this dusty town. She is only waiting on the letter from Aaron, asking her to return to lush Tennessee to be his fraa. But that letter never comes. As she spends time getting to know Phineas hoping to uncover the man beneath the scars she begins to realize that she no longer minds that Aaron hasn t sent for her.

As both Deborah and Phineas try to come to terms with lives that haven t turned out the way they imagined, they discover that perhaps Gott s plans for them are more extraordinary than they could have dreamed. But they need to let go of their own past sorrows and disappointments to find the joy and beauty that lies just ahead for them both.
Genre: Christian Fiction
Recommended for: Readers of Christian/Amish Fiction, readers looking for a light-hearted read, readers interested in beekeeping

Stumbling upon The Beekeeper’s Son was like a win-win for me: not only am I extremely interested in beekeeping (I’m going to be tending to some hives in the coming months!), but I’ve also been curious about Amish Fiction for a while now. It’s possibly the best-selling genre in our store and that alone piques my interest, but I also wanted to discover more due to my childhood. My hometown is a super rural area (we drove tractors to school, guys. No joke.) and there were a few Amish children who attended my elementary school. It’s not at all uncommon to see a buggy or two while driving down the road and my absolute favorite stand at the local farmers market is the one run by an Amish family. So, yes, when I came across The Beekeeper’s Son I didn’t hesitate putting in a request. Plus it’s the start of a new series – everything about this book basically screamed my name.

Deborah Lantz is making the move with her family from their beloved home in Tennessee to Bee County, Texas. Although she still aches over the death of her father, it’s only natural for her mother to make the decision to let go (however hard that may be for her) and get on with her life. For Abigail Lantz getting on with her life means packing up and making the trip down to her brother’s home in Texas where a childhood friend still has feelings for her after all these years and hopes to marry her and bring her family into his home.

Bee County, Texas isn’t much to speak of. The community there is slowly dying, with numerous families already gone and still more planning on moving to other Plain settlements throughout the country. The weather and soil make it difficult to grow crops, so in an perfectly-named town, honey is the big business and no one does is better than Mordecai King. With the death of his wife twelve years ago (in a horrific accident that permanently scarred his youngest son), Mordecai was left to raise his boys on his own and while his life isn’t the happiest, he’s perfectly content.

While Plain folk disregard notions like beauty when it comes to a person’s character, Phineas King knows he’s nothing to look at. The accident that took his mother left him with multiple broken bones and a scarred face. When Deborah first meets him and shrieks, he knows she’s lying when she said it was an armadillo that startled her…right? She couldn’t possibly see past his disfigurement, not when so many other girls in their community couldn’t – or wouldn’t. If he’s completely honest with himself, he would like to settle down one day with a family of his own, but he knows that’s not what God’s plan is and that his growing feelings for Deborah will only lead to heartbreak.

The Beekeeper’s Son doesn’t pull any punches. In fact, from the summary alone you know the entire story already and within the first few chapters all the details are laid out so you can easily tell where everything is headed. Even still, I enjoyed this one! Perhaps not as much as I had hoped and, at times, it can be a little over-dramatic (especially when it comes to scenes where the characters need to be thrown together somehow), but it was still a fun ride that I enjoyed taking.

Interspersed throughout the dialogue are various Deutsch words – Mudder, gut, kaffi, schweschder – that were easily understood through the context and also compiled in a handy glossary. There was also, my to delight, a generous amount of beekeeping knowledge and facts. Obviously these bits were my favorite!

Although there were some pretty outlandish scenes that had my eyes rolling rather than the intended response (fear, concern, etc), I still had a great time with The Beekeeper’s Son. For a relatively hefty novel it read really quick. When the sequel is released I might check it out, though I’m not entirely sure where the story could be headed – at the end of this novel there was an epilogue set in the near-future that essentially spelled out the life these characters would lead. Perhaps the next book will follow one of Deborah’s sisters?

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