Thursday, September 4, 2014

eARC Review & Excerpt: A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” You can find out more about Keira and her books at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

Title: A Forbidden Rumspringa
Series: Gay Amish #1
Genre: Contemporary
Author: Keira Andrews
Publisher: Self published
Publication date: September 3, 2014
Word count: 75,000

Formats: Mobi, ePub, PDF

Buy links:

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.
Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.
Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Growing up Amish can be very restrictive but all the church members have a choice to stay or not to stay. When a child turns sixteen years, they are allowed to experience Rumspringa or 'run around' and be with the English and do stuff they only had heard of. Most go back and be baptized, forever foregoing the temptations of the English world and live happy lives. For eighteen year old Isaac Byler, no such choices were given to him. His community, Zebulon, was considered one of the most restrictive among the Amish and Rumspringa was not an option offered because of something that happened in their original community. Their Ordnung was highly involved in the day to day living, and thinking, and feeling, of each church member. From the width of their hats to the girl they date, it was stifling. When Isaac is sent to apprentice with the carpenter, David Luntz, he was hesitant. David's family had a dark past and being the only male left to care and support the women in his family, his was a life that was impossible to get away from. Already in his twenties and not yet baptized, people among the community were beginning to question his lack of decision and lack of interest in dating. When Isaac became his apprentice, he knew his life would be forever changed. Just not as the community had even thought of. David and Isaac's falling in love was not planned but it did explain a whole lot of unvoiced questions. Their love was considered sinful but both felt it was right. They could not escape their attraction with each other. Soon, David showed Isaac what he knew of the English world and they experienced their own version of Rumspringa together. Living in a world where learning is considered the least important and placed way behind farming, animal husbandry or carpentry, these two men's lives was pure torture. What they did, what they felt to each other felt right. Not the wrong they were all made to believe. They had time to get over each other and join the church once and for all but that would mean forgetting and never speaking of their love. The decision they reached was surprising and yet expected. This was a beautiful book to read. David's and Isaac's lives were clearly not meant to be lived within such a highly restrictive community especially when just a few steps away is the real world calling and teasing their curiosity and need to learn. However, they had families they both loved and going against the Ordnung may mean they could never see or hear from them again. It was a tough world and it pulled at them, tearing their love apart. The Amish world of Zebulon is beautifully crafted that it almost felt real and reading about it set the mind to think and cringe and yet understand. Reading this brought the movie Footloose to mind as this plot plays around a similar theme of a ultra-conservative and highly restrictive community. The children may not feel the need, but teenagers long for something they could not quite understand what. Something has got to give.

As for the romance between David and Isaac, it was sweet and yet full of heartache. They were also two young men whom I would consider a bit naive but that is to be expected. I just hope that by the next installment, they would get through this new and modern life happily.


“Ready?” David asked. He nodded to where their hats hung on the wall. “You can get your hat on the way back. No need for it out in the woods with the sun going down. Don’t worry, no one will see us.”

Heart tripping, Isaac nodded and followed outside. Yet David didn’t go toward his buggy, but instead to the fence where a tall bridled horse was tied. When Isaac hesitated, David glanced back.

“There’s a shortcut across the fields and through the woods.” He patted the horse’s neck. “Kaffi likes riders. He’s odd for a draft horse.”

The name must have come from the dark coffee color of the horse’s hair. “You’re sure he can take us both?”

“Absolutely.” David climbed onto the fence and swung his leg over the horse. “Come on, it’s easy. We won’t go too fast.”

“Don’t we need fishing poles?”

“I have a hidey hole in an old log by the lake. I keep them there. Hop on.”

Isaac had ridden occasionally with a saddle before, but not for ages, and never bareback. The fence didn’t waver as he clambered up, but he paused, eyeing the horse’s broad back.

David gave him a smile. “It’s all right. Just grab me and climb on.”

Holding his breath, Isaac grasped David’s shoulder to steady himself as he reached his leg over. Kaffi sidestepped as he settled on, and Isaac dug his fingers into David’s hip with his left hand. He squeezed his thighs around the horse, anticipation zipping through him.

With a click of David’s tongue and prodding of his heels, Kaffi sauntered into the field, following the narrow path between the gardens. Isaac concentrated on breathing steadily and keeping his balance. He should let go of David now that he was getting a feel for it, but Isaac hung on anyway. The pressure on his privates, with only his pants between them and the muscles of the horse’s back, sent faint shivers up his spine.

Isaac could tell when they passed onto the land the Ottos now cultivated, the partly harvested crops growing higher and more plentiful. They didn’t see any workers, but the sun was already beyond the horizon. He breathed in the familiar smell of the fields, earth and grass—and manure, faded now at the harvest, but always there.

David had clearly followed this route through the woods many times, and he didn’t hesitate once they were in the trees. He went steadily east, angling this way and that, Kaffi sure-footed amid the roots and grassy scrub on the ground even as twilight gave way to darkness.

As the moon rose, its ghostly light filtering through the thinning autumn leaves, David brought Kaffi to a stop. The horse bent his head to munch on a low bush, and for a moment the rustling was the only sound. David looked over his shoulder at Isaac with eyes so serious that Isaac held his breath.

“What would you think if we didn’t go fishing tonight?”

“Huh?” Isaac realized he was still hanging on although they weren’t moving. He dropped his hands from David’s waist, making fists to keep from fidgeting.

David watched him steadily. “The truth is, I don’t want to go fishing at all.”

They sat so close that David’s breath tickled Isaac’s face. “What do you want to do?” Isaac whispered.

David’s gaze flicked a few inches down. “I want…”

Heart galloping, Isaac licked his dry lips.

Suddenly David spun back around, vibrating with tension. Kaffi sidestepped, snorting before going back to the shrubs.

Isaac could hardly breathe as he stared at the back of David’s head, wishing he could peek inside. “David?”

He didn’t turn, and his voice was low. “Can I trust you?”

Isaac swallowed hard. “Yes.” He had the crazy urge to reach up and touch the skin of David’s neck, to feel the fine wisps of dark hair there.

“I hardly know you, but I feel like I can. I mean, I’ve known you since you were born, but…not really.”

He wished he could see David’s expression to make some sense of this strange conversation. Tentatively, Isaac flattened his hand on David’s back. Through the broadcloth, he felt rigid muscles beneath his palm. He swallowed hard. “You can trust me.”

“If I take you somewhere, do you promise not to tell? Not anyone?”

“I promise.” Unable to resist, he stroked David’s back the way he would a skittish horse.

With a shudder, David put his heels to Kaffi, urging him on faster than before. Isaac wrapped his arms around David’s waist and squeezed with his thighs, blood rushing in his ears as they cantered into a field under the silver of the moon. His hips pressed right against David’s backside now.

Shivering, Isaac glimpsed what he could of David’s face, wondering what thoughts warred in David’s mind, and where he was leading them with such urgency. He should ask, but instead Isaac simply held on.

~ ~ ~

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