Grace written by Shelley Shepard Gray is the fourth book in the Sisters of the Heart series. I was able to read this book through NetGalley and HarperCollins publishers. I was given a advance copy of the book for this review. This book gives us a look back at the characters in the series and takes place at the Inn. I have read all of the books in the series, but I think this book could be read without ever reading the other books in the series because it is more about the new characters. I will warn you though that lots of information is given away about the other three books, so if you should decide to go ahead and read those you may know more than you want to know.
Grace gives us a look at where the characters from the series are now. I really liked seeing how they were doing. Katie and Jonathan had a 3 month old baby now named Eli. The other "sisters" in the series, Winnie and Anna, are happily married. It was really nice to get to see these characters again but the book was not really about them.
In the novel, the family is excited about Christmas and the fact that all of them will be staying for a week at the Inn to celebrate Christmas as a family. Just as they are getting ready to start the holidays, they get an unexpected piece of mail. That letter had gotten lost in the mail, so they did not get a man's reservation for his stay during the Christmas holiday and he is expected that day. We soon learn that this man is named Levi and he is also Amish. They also get another guest a young Amish woman named Melody who is almost nine months pregnant. Melody's boss gave her a gift certificate to the Inn to get away. During Levi's and Melody's visit to the Inn, they both came there to get away from unhappy events in their past. As they come to terms with those events, a friendship is formed between them that soon turns into a little more than friendship. Katie is so upset that they came and ruined the family's Christmas. She has to learn to accept them being there during the book. We also meet Melody's Englisher friend, Leah. Leah also decides to come to the Inn to be with her friend because she does not want her to be alone for Christmas. Leah takes a long time to get there, as the roads are bad from the winter weather. She meets Zach, a highway patrolman, and they instantly are attracted to each other.
God's Grace was a central theme in this book. I believe that things happen in life for a reason. You see God's hand in a lot of things going on in the book. While meeting a police officer on a road trip who you end up having a relationship with and being the only two guest at an Amish Bed and Breakfast and you find yourself falling for each other seems unlikely, I think that all things are possible with God's help. You see this theme in a lot of the books in this series too. Events seem to happen to bring people together or people just being in the right place at the right time. I really liked this central message in the story. I also like the fact that some of the events mirrored the Bible story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Shelley Shepard Gray got my interest in the book from Chapter one. I like books like that! I could not wait to see what was going to happen next. I also love reading books about Christmas. The story was described in a way that you felt like you were at the end during Christmas in the middle of a winter storm. You could see Christmas themes throughout the story, love, togetherness, and family. I also like that a lot of the recipes in the story were added to the end of the book.
I highly recommend this book. It would be a great read for the holiday season. The book comes out on November 1, 2010.