Book Review: Ties That Bind

16 Sep

41zjty430wl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together — or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.
Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café — because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.


816nu3lsh7l-_ux250_Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn’t allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy’s house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them — afraid that if they didn’t, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann’s because her family didn’t own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults’ disapproval and the obstacles in each other’s lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy’s family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities–from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

If you’d like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: or Facebook


My Impressions:

Cindy Woodsmall is one of my book club’s very favorite authors. We actually won her first two books and an author call from Cindy (back before Skype, so you know that was a long time ago!). The hour we spent listening to her talk about her writing and inspiration was wonderful. We have read every full length novel she has written and usually do so as soon as they come out. I’m not sure what happened with Ties That Bind, but I am glad we waited to read it, otherwise, we would have had some very anxious readers awaiting book 2 in this series. Fraying at The Edges, book 2 in the Summer Grove series is out now and will be making an appearance very soon. In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts on Ties That Bind.

Cindy Woodsmall writes Amish fiction, but it is more than sweet romance and simple living. In fact there is nothing simple in the lives of the characters, both Plain and English. Ties That Bind takes its characters on an emotional journey of faith, family and culture. The English and Amish worlds collide despite the attempts of many of the characters to keep things separate and secret. This novel explores the influence of nature and nurture on two young women. As the story unfolds, the reader knows more of what’s going on than the characters and the tension and suspense is palpable, making the pages fly. There is also the contrast of the human free will, God’s grace and the legalism that often dominates our religious practices. You don’t have to be Amish to be legalistic! Ties That Bind really makes you think about that. As with any novel by Cindy, the characters soon find a place in your heart. I really came to care about them and felt their anguish, fears and sense of lost dreams. A glimmer of hope is seen at the end, and I will be really glad when I can begin Fraying at The Edges in just a few days.

Have you read Ties That Bind? What did you think about it? We are meeting tonight and I am looking forward to some wonderful and lively conversation.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

One Response to “Book Review: Ties That Bind”


  1. Top 10 Tuesday — Characters and Cats | By The Book - October 18, 2016

    […] a blue-eyed, platinum blond beauty from Cindy Woodsmall‘s The Amish of Summer Grove series. She is as sweet as she is […]

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