CFBA Blog Tour: Spring’s Renewal by Shelley Shepherd

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Spring’s Renewal from Avon Inspire (April 2010) by Shelley Shepherd Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold twenty-six novels to numerous publishers. She has written a seven book contemporary series for Avalon books. She also published The Love Letter, a western for Avalon. Five Star Expressions published Suddenly, You in February of 2007. This novel is a historical western set in the mountains of Colorado.

Shelley has written nine novels for Harlequin American Romance. Cinderella Christmas, her first novel with them, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. Her second book with them, Simple Gifts won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best Harlequin American Romance of 2006. The Mommy Bride, was chosen by Romantic Times Magazine as one of their TOP PICKS for May, 2008.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. HIDDEN and WANTED the first two novels of her ‘Sisters of the Heart’ series, were chosen to be Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/ Literary Guild Book Club. FORGIVEN, book 3, has received glowing reviews. Avon Inspire will release four novels by Shelley in 2010.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church.


Tim Graber arrives in Sugarcreek to help his aunt and uncle with spring planting. At first, Tim doesn’t fit in with his many cousins and their crowded lifestyle. But when he meets Clara Slabaugh, the local school teacher, he understands why the Lord brought him to Sugarcreek.

Clara is shy and quiet. Scarred from a fire when she was small, Clara has resigned herself to living alone and caring for her mother, who tells her that no man will ever see past her scars, and that Clara needs to keep teaching in order to make ends meet.

Her father passed away years ago, and her mother depends on her. But the scars mean nothing to Tim. He appreciates her quiet nature and her wonderful, loving way with children. Yet Tim has a sweetheart back home in Indiana. As these two hearts struggle to determine their path, tragedy strikes, and every other worry seems insignificant in comparison.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Spring’s Renewal, go HERE.

Andrea’s Comments: Though I am a bit frustrated by another publisher who skimped on the editing, that is not the author’s fault. Fans of Amish Romances will love her simple, down-to earth style that suits the subject matter perfectly. Readers who have suffered emotional abuse may find the realistic, but unhealthy notions planted in the protagonist by her mother feeding into their own wounds and may be bothered by the mother’s sudden repentance, since that likely hasn’t happened in their own families. The rest will appreciate it, I’m quite sure.

One question I did have going away. When collecting post cards from all fifty states as a school project, Nevada sends a post card with half-naked show girls on it, which of course was an entirely inappropriate thing to send to Amish school children. Rather than defending their beliefs, the teacher gives a lesson on not judging by appearances. This is a more important lesson from our perspective, and it even makes sense for the character given her scars, but it seemed very odd for the rest of the Amish community to back this. But I’m not an expert on their doctrines, I am only wondering if this was realistic.

Overall, the tenor somehow reminded me of cozying up with a friend over hot chocolate on a rainy spring day.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve enjoyed your reviews and presented you with a book reviewing award at my site, Dark Glass Ponderings.

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