Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

The main character of Cindy Woodsmall’s The Sound of Sleigh Bells, Beth Hertzler, struggles with balancing her grief over a love lost with learning to trust a new love interest. Beth (Elizabeth) lives comfortably in an Amish community, and runs a general dry goods store with her Aunt Lizzy (also Elizabeth). The story begins with lighthearted reading describing the store, and the quiet consistency of living a small town life.

Those close to Beth worry that she has been grieving the death of her fiancé Henry for too long. Beth mourns Henry as if he died the day before, and Lizzy feels she should bring Beth back to the land of the living before Beth’s heart closes itself to the idea of love forever.

Beth’s word is changed forever on a chance road trip to another general store. A wooden carving of an Amish wintery scene catches more than just her eye, and she later meets Jonah, the son of the artist who captured her heart with his expressive woodwork. She surprises herself with the new desire she begins to feel for Jonah, and she finds an awakening in herself, as their relationship blossoms throughtheir correspondence.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells is an easy read, and the themes presented would be acceptable for a junior high, high school or adult reader. Woodsmall follows the tenuous journey of love for Beth and Jonah, but there is a twist. Would Beth survive hearing the truth of betrayal and calculated deception regarding Jonah, or will she shrink back to her world of mourning and mistrust, being forever faithful to Henry’s memory? Readers of this book will definitely be surprised by how the story plays out.

Poppy graduated with a JD from the Michael Moritz College of Law. She worked in several NYC law departments before realizing she’d rather be teaching. After a decade of teaching Business Studies courses, she decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, managing client content from comedy to marketing, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.