Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray

Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (161 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When Anna decides it’s time to leave her abusive boyfriend, she doesn’t know where to turn. Rob has completely won over her parents, and the entire community, with his good looks and smooth charm. Only Anna has seen his dark side.

Desperate, she runs to the only place she’s ever felt completely safe—the Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, where Anna met life-long friend Katie Brenneman. The family welcomes her in, and with few questions asked allows her to stay, dressed in Plain clothing, and help around the inn.

Katie’s older brother Henry is the only one who doesn’t take too kindly to the intrusion. He tries to ignore Anna, knowing no good would ever come from caring for an Englisher like her. But as he gets to know Anna, he discovers her good heart and is surprised with her readiness to accept their lifestyle.

The more time Anna spends with the Amish, the more she feels she’s found a true home. But how can she deny the life she left behind? And will her chance for happiness be stolen away by the man from her past?

I remember the 80s movie Witness and after I started reading Hidden I found it easy to make a few parallel observations. The difference is that in this novel the romance bears fruit and there’s an HEA. I enjoyed the simple, profound and gentle romance between two very divergent people.

Henry and Anna are the main protagonists who at first don’t get along well – oil and water. As with all good romance stories, as circumstances affect them, as they get to know each other and see each other as they really are, feelings start to grow, respect is nurtured and understanding develops.

The character with the most to gain, lose, grow and change is Anna. She’s running for safety; she’s felt lost in her own world for a long time and someone does not want her to leave it. Time is running out. There’s a guy hot on her tail and he’s not very nice. Where can she turn? Who will help her? It turns out the least obvious is the best bet, but can she leave all that she knew behind? Surprisingly it’s her faith in religion that slowly guides her to make the choices that lead her to what her heart had been searching for and never found in all that she’s done in her life so far. It takes the calm and focused lifestyle of the Amish to give Anna the time to slow down, to think, to feel, and most importantly, listen to what God was trying to tell her. There’s so much Englisher static from her background it takes a while for Anna to finally hear.

The story is told mostly from Anna’s point of view, then Henry’s. The villain gets his say and he’s a sad specimen of humanity. The author made it very clear as the plot unfolded that something really isn’t right with that guy. He was an effective antagonist.

The one thing that saddened me about this novel was Anna’s mother. Her dad was written quite well and I liked him. The mother was a head case. Where there should have been redemption, she just didn’t get it, not truly, and I was disappointed in her final act on stage. Didn’t she learn anything?

I liked the dramatic conclusion and found it showcased all the main characters’ strengths. I liked the secondary characters and found them helpful as Anna and Henry navigated their growing attraction. The happy ever after was sweet and full of spirituality and love. It was tender and brought a smile to my face.

Hidden is a delightful change of pace from the many frenetic, violent or over the top sexy stories out there. Sometimes, a reader just wants a story of the heart, about two people overcoming seemingly unsurmountable odds to find love, happiness and fulfillment in a deeper way than most can comprehend. There are times where I need to be reminded that love isn’t proved by material things or boisterous gestures, but by trust in another person and the faith, love and respect they have for their God and each other. It can be beautiful and Ms. Gray did a wonderful job of capturing that with her story.

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