British author Pam Rhodes has written The Dunbridge Chronicles, a series American readers will find similar in tone and characters to Jan Karon's Mitford series. I recently received IF YOU FOLLOW ME, the third book in the Dunbridge Chronicles, from Kregel Publication for review purposes. I hope I approached this gentle read in a manner, author Pam Rhodes would approve --I brewed a cup of favorite tea and curled up in a cozy afghan by the fire. Within minutes I was transported to Dunbridge where I found that young curate Neil Fischer (assistant pastor) at St. Stephens has had to take over all responsibilities since Rev. Margaret has resigned (I guess that would be the story in book two)
The added obligations have left Neil little time for his new fiancee Claire or her young son. With urging from his mom, Neil and Claire finally decide on an engagement ring and set a date for a small party formally announcing their betrothal. When Wendy Lambert, the leader of the worship group, asks if she can bring a guest to the festivities, Neil never imagines she has contacted Claire's beau from six years ago. Readers will quickly understand Wendy is a schemer who wants the young reverend for herself. When Ben makes the trip from Australia for the party, he has much more on his mind than congratulating Claire on a future marriage. He now wants a relationship with five year old Sam, the son he has never seen or showed interest in. And of course, he wants to renew his interest in Claire.
I liked that the author included a "Who's Who in Dunbridge" page at the beginning of the book This helped me jump right into the action which obviously picked up where book two ended. Other reviewers have mentioned that this book is a mixture of laughter and tears, and I totally agree. The calm tone of the narrative almost hides the powerful lessons found in the struggles of this believable congregation. Young Neil, who many see as inexperienced and naive, has just the right amount of humility and common sense. If you are looking for another gentle read, I recommend this title.
Since Rev. Neil is such a likeable guy, why not start with books one and two? Thank you to Kregel Publications for a chance to review this title.