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Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Wheat by Barbara Wohlschlegel

Winter Wheat by Barbara Wohlschlegel
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full (210 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Elderberry

The youngest of four daughters, April Sennett wasn’t the son her farmer parents wanted and needed. Her father’s crippling accident compels her to return home and shoulder the arduous farm work under his vitriolic supervision. Her mother’s belated affection helps sustain her, but neighboring farmer Dan Clayton must often be called to April’s aid. She doesn’t know why he’s so willing to help her irreligious family—April’s father has spent years ridiculing the “Holy Claytons” for their deep-seated Christianity.

Dan’s gentle ways capture April’s heart, but it’s only after she falls in love with him that she discovers his engagement to a vivacious Christian girl. Reading the Bible only confirms April’s unworthiness for Dan. Can God take an impossible situation and give April her heart’s desire, or is she destined to a lonely life of working herself to exhaustion to save her father’s farm?

After her father's near-fatal accident forces April Sennett to return to her parents' farm, the first person she sees is her handsome, but holy next-door neighbor, Dan Clayton. She ends up crying in his arms. Surprised by how much his kindness comforts her, she begins to see Dan in a new light.

April, the youngest of four daughters, wasn't the son her parents’ wanted and needed to take over the family farm—a beginning that shadowed her childhood and still makes her feel as if she must earn love. Compelled by her father’s crippling accident to shoulder the physically and emotionally exhaustive work required to run the farm, April faces the additional burden of laboring under her father’s venomous oversight.

Her mother’s belated understanding and affection makes her father’s bitterness easier to bear. But Dan, whose gentle ways capture April’s heart, is the one who adds the sweetness to her homecoming.

Only after she falls in love with Dan does April discover his engagement to a beautiful Christian girl, who appears to be a much better choice for Dan than April. Reading the Bible only confirms her feeling of unworthiness, but April cannot stop her heart from wanting Dan. Can God bring April to a place of love and contentment, or is she destined for a lonely life of working herself to exhaustion to save her father’s farm?

Wohlschlegel’s sweet love story reminds us that God can answer our prayers even after we've lost hope. Beneath the love story is a gentle lesson of acceptance and redemption. She reminds us that we cannot earn love, only accept it for the gift it is.

I do wish, however, that Wohlschlegel had invited us closer to her characters by writing in a deeper point-of-view. Her tendency to summarize events and tell us how April and Dan feel keeps us at arm’s length, lessening the impact of the emotional punch this story carries.

Still, Winter Wheat is a heartfelt reminder of the healing power of divine
and human love.