Ella Hostetler’s mother has passed away, and now Ella is all alone on a farm she can no longer afford to take care of. She reluctantly holds an auction and sells off everything but the bare necessities, and notes that a neighbor, Loyal Weaver, buys the farm and most of the furniture and farm equipment. Ella is hurt that her memories are going for a song, but she’s determined to move on in life.
Ella rents a duplex next door to her long time librarian friend, Dorothy, who also helps her get a job at the library. Ella loves her new job, but she’s not so happy with Dorothy who is acting more and more possessive, and making disparaging comments about Ella’s other friends.
When Loyal starts coming around to show Ella what he’s done with the farm and the house, they develop a quick friendship. Ella’s always had feelings for Loyal, yet she realizes that friendship is all they’ll ever have...after all, Loyal’s never paid attention to her before. Eventually, Ella is faced with a choice - protect her heart — or come out of her shell and risk everything.
The Protector is book two of Ms. Gray’s Families of Honor series, but it easily stands alone. I did read the first book in the series The Caregiver and both the hero and heroine make appearances in this book, so readers might want to read that book first. Also, there are some continuing stories in this book with some of the secondary characters that are going from book to book.
Readers of Amish fiction will want to read The Protector and any of Ms. Gray’s other Amish books. They are full of characters you’ll love and cheer for. I wanted Ella to find happiness and the family she longed for, and wished she’d see Dorothy for what she was. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book.