About the book: An Unlikely Blessing is a heartfelt story about a new pastor and life-long city dweller Alex Armstrong, who reluctantly accepts his first assignment, a two-point parish in the wilds of North Dakota. Hilltop Township, a farming community, blooms from the prairie like a wild pink rose—lovely and prickly all at once, much like the people who live there. Unlikely Alex quickly finds that this lovely place is in quiet peril. Farmers are struggling to make ends meet: Jonas Owens, a faithful member of Hilltop parish, is on the brink of losing the farm. Alex believes that part of why God called him to Hilltop was to help turn things around, and steps in with ideas for saving the Owens' land. But can even God's minister help save this rural community? There are a lot of firsts for the new pastor—the annual Hunter's Breakfast, julebukking (also called Christmas fooling), King Oscar's fish balls, and the melody of the musical saw. And the new, single pastor creates remarkable excitement among the unmarried women in the community. If you could die of hot dish overdose, Alex would be a dead man. Whether performing weddings, counseling his flock, or herding cattle by snowmobile, Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he will teach them. Day by day, he falls more in love with the people of Hilltop Church. People may leave Hilltop, but Hilltop never leaves them.
This was such a sweet book! I signed up for it because it made me think of my sister in North Dakota and growing up in a small town in Minnesota. It brought back so many pleasant memories. There is a comment made in the beginning of the book by one of the characters:
"'This place is full of stories.' Jared 's brow furrowed. 'The people we've met-Lauren and Mike, Dixon, that sad looking man Jonas, and now the people who just left-they've all got stories, and we've only had time to experience the first page of each of them.'"
That's how I felt when I finished the book. I missed the characters. I found myself caring about each of them (even recognizing a few), anxious to "hear how they were doing" in between reading sessions. It's a simple book, with many simple but deep stories. Definitely a quick read but very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to the other books in this series.
About Patti: Judy Baer is the author of over seventy-five books for adults and teens. She has won the Romance Writer of America Bronze Medallion and has been a RITA finalist twice. She lives in Elk River, Minnesota with her husband. Follow the Hilltop characters on Judy’s blog and find out more about Judy and her books at http://www.judykbaer.com