Posted in Reviews

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer

I didn’t get last week’s book review posted, for obvious reasons, so this week you get two!

The Captive Heart by author Dale Cramer is book two in his “The Daughters of Caleb Bender” series. I have not read book one, Paradise Valley, but I was curious to read Amish fiction by a male author, so I went ahead and agreed to review book two.

It was obvious as I read that there was much I missed in book one. But, The Captive Heart still carries itself even without the information that would have been gleaned from Paradise Valley.

When Ohio laws changed in 1921, the Amish feared Image(6)that government interference would prevent them from living out their faith freely. Determined to raise his family according to his faith, Caleb Bender packed up his family and moved to Mexico. There the Benders and two other families had freedom to follow their faith, but they lacked protection from the wild bandits who roamed the countryside.

Now more Amish families are on their way to join the Benders’ small community. But, as pacifists, they refuse to take up arms against the marauding bandits. Disaster strikes the community in the form of unexpected illness and the kidnapping of Caleb’s beautiful daughter Rachel by bandits. In both cases, God’s solution for helping the Amish seems to lie in the hands of outsiders who do not adhere to the Amish faith. Meanwhile, Caleb’s daughter Miriam wages a war within her own heart as she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Domingo, the young Nahua who has given his all to help the Benders. But loving Domingo means turning her back on her faith and the family and community who have already experienced so much hurt and loss.

Based on historic events, The Captive Heart offers a fresh face for Amish fiction by presenting a picture of what life might have been like for historical Amish who migrated to Mexico to escape religious persecution. It definitely is the sort of series you don’t want to start unless you intend to read them all. There is no closure in The Captive Heart, as I assume there was not in Paradise Valley. But, based on book two, it is a series I would recommend to lovers of Amish fiction.

This book was sent to me by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.


I am a homeschooling preacher's wife and managing editor for the Well Planned Gal. But, I also love to write just for the fun of it. I also process best through writing, and my thoughts tend to flow from things I learn through the Bible, interacting with my family, and moving through life in general. Thanks for joining me in my not quite ordinary journey.

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