Review: A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews

forbidden rumspringaReviewed by Janell

Forbidden romance is a favorite of mine. I love the longing glances, the stolen moments, the angst. So what’s more forbidden than a gay Amish romance, right? I’ve never read an Amish romance before because I’m under the impression that they’re lacking in sexytimes, and they are written for people who don’t want to read sexytimes. But the description of this book says that it is not an inspirational/ Christian romance, and that it contains explicit sexual situations. Sold!

First, let me tell you a few things I learned about the Amish. Every community has its own rules; there is no single Amish doctrine to rule them all. Some groups are more modern than others. In this book, the settlement of Zebulon was created when members of another settlement wanted something even more restrictive. Zebulon doesn’t allow Rumspringa, doesn’t let them go into town to sell to the English, doesn’t even let them put bright orange triangles on the backs of their buggies to give them more visibility to cars. They can ride in cars in emergencies, but seat belts aren’t necessary, they place all faith in God’s protection.

As for their lifestyle… Amish men don’t have mustaches because it’s too militaristic, but married men grow beards. No elastic or rubber is permitted, no mirrors, either, and the Order dictates the precise width of their hat brims. They have church every other week, and when a man gets his own buggy, it’s time to find a wife.

Isaac is the eldest son in a large family. At eighteen, he’s given the opportunity to apprentice with David, a carpenter. David is twenty and under serious pressure to officially join the church. Isaac and David worked on a barn roof together once, and they stared at each other a little too long. When the story opens, Isaac is nervous about working with David, because Isaac has unnatural feelings.

Isaac and David become friends while spending every day together in a barn assembling furniture. Isaac’s family has hinted that he should court David’s sister, and Isaac awkwardly fumbles for words around her when they cross paths, always searching for a quick escape. He rejects his father’s offer of a new buggy, claiming that they can’t afford one yet, when really he doesn’t want to drive a girl home from singing. No buggy equals no alone time with girls.

I loved watching the romance unfold. The story is told only from Isaac’s perspective. He has thoughts about David, but he always shuts them down quickly. He grasps any small crumb of attention from David, until one night when David reveals his own longing. Once they realize that they’re both into each other, it’s a quick leap into explicit territory. Isaac has only seen farm animals mate, and he wants David to mount him like a stallion. David confesses that he bought a dirty magazine at a gas station once. They have lots of privacy in a barn. And how do Amish men lubricate? With saddle grease. I kind of love the details. Maybe it’s too much information for some people, but it was all part of the Amish experience for me.

Both men feel guilty, of course. They’ve been raised in a certain religion to follow a narrow path, and they have trouble reconciling how they feel with words like fornication, sodomy, and sin. In fact, they both hope that when they join the church, they’ll instantly want to marry a woman. As their relationship continues, though, they give voice to doubt.

“If we go back to when Jesus was born, the world was completely different. It grew and changed in so many ways. But for us, it’s like everything stopped in the eighteen hundreds. Why? What changed that made all the inventions and advancements after that sinful and wrong? Why are we stuck in the past?”

This book doesn’t give them an easy out. There are consequences to leaving the settlement, and bigger consequences if you leave after officially joining the church. Isaac and David don’t hate being Amish, and they don’t want to leave. The author allows the characters to examine their futures regardless of their romance, and it’s illuminating and heartbreaking.

This is the first book in a trilogy, I think. It ends somewhat abruptly, but happily, and I’ll probably read the next books because everything about this one was done so well.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Forbidden Rumspringa
by Keira Andrews
Release Date: September 3, 2014

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